The Noonday Devil
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
The noonday devil is the demon of acedia, the vice also known as sloth. The word sloth , however, can be misleading, for acedia is not laziness; in fact it can manifest as busyness or activism. Rather, acedia is a gloomy combination of weariness, sadness, and a lack of purposefulness. It robs a person of his capacity for joy and leaves him feeling empty, or void of meaning
Abbot Nault says that acedia is the most oppressive of demons. Although its name harkens back to antiquity and the Middle Ages, and seems to have been largely forgotten, acedia is experienced by countless modern people who describe their condition as depression, melancholy, burn-out, or even mid-life crisis.
He begins his study of acedia by tracing the wisdom of the Church on the subject from the Desert Fathers to Saint Thomas Aquinas. He shows how acedia afflicts persons in all states of life priests, religious, and married or single laymen. He details not only the symptoms and effects of acedia, but also remedies for it.
"The simple, direct style of this work makes the reader feel involved and challenged to consider anew what is essential in his existence."
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (Rome)
"A must read for anyone who takes the spiritual life seriously. Christ's passion and death on the cross is the most perfect answer to the terrible evil that tells man his very existence is meaningless."
- Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., Author, The Ear of the Heart
This book is very revealing! I have read several books on acedia, a.k.a. the sin of sloth, and this one is perhaps the most precise, thorough, and well-defined. Most of us think of "sloth" as mere laziness, but Abbot Nault explains how sloth as a sin is more like spiritual despair, hopelessness, and carelessness regarding spiritual goods, something that strikes at the basis of the spiritual life.
The tone of this book is not quite as devotional as some, but it makes up for that with theological and spiritual insight aimed at very straightforward applications which any layman can put into practice. I found particularly helpful Abbot Nault's explanation of the spiritual mechanics of acedia and some basic remedies that have to do with our use of space and time in supporting good spiritual habits which defend us against the Noonday Devil's sly assaults.