Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Pope: Let us overcome the vice of sloth with the patience of faith

Francis Gives 'Catechesis' on Vice of Lust, Fails to Mention Sin or  Anything Supernatural – Novus Ordo Watch

Let Lent be for everyone "an opportunity for conversion and interior renewal in listening to the Word of God, in caring for our brothers and sisters who need it most. And let us never forget the tormented Ukraine, Palestine and Israel which suffer so much. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters who suffer because of the war."

This is the invitation that Pope Francis addressed to the faithful this morning at the end of the general audience held in the Paul VI Hall on Ash Wednesday, the day that opens the journey of preparation towards Easter.

Francis - who recently published his message on this year's Lent, with the invitation to experience it as a "time of freedom" -  will receive the sign of the ashes in the afternoon in a celebration which, as per tradition, is held in the basilica of Santa Sabina, on the Aventine hill.

In this morning's catechesis, however, the pontiff continued the cycle of reflections on vices and virtues, focusing today on the vice of acedia, "which often goes unnoticed, perhaps because of his name which is difficult for many to understand" . There is a tendency to replace it with laziness, which however "is more an effect than a cause".

The Pope observed that sloth is instead “a very dangerous temptation, which should not be joked with. Whoever falls victim to it is as if crushed by a desire for death: he feels disgust for everything; the relationship with God becomes boring to him; and even the most holy acts, those that had warmed his heart in the past, now appear completely useless to him. A person begins to regret the passing of time, and the youth that is irreparably behind us."

It is also defined as the "midday demon" because "it catches us in the middle of the day, when fatigue is at its peak and the hours ahead of us appear monotonous, impossible to live".

The Pope continued "it is very reminiscent of the evil of depression, both from a psychological and philosophical point of view. In fact, for those who are gripped by sloth, life loses meaning, praying becomes boring, every battle appears meaningless. So you let yourself go and distraction, not thinking, appear as the only ways out: you would like to be stunned, to have your mind completely empty... It's a bit like dying early, and it's bad."

How does one respond? With what the Pope defines as “the patience of faith”: “We must have the courage to remain and to welcome the presence of God into my 'here and now', into my situation as it is. How many people, in the throes of Sloth, moved by a faceless restlessness, has foolishly abandoned the path of good it had undertaken”.

This is why "it is a decisive battle, which must be won at all costs". The saints – added the pontiff – “teach us to go through the night in patience, accepting the poverty of faith. They recommended, under the oppression of sloth, to keep a smaller measure of commitment, to set goals that are more within reach, but at the same time to resist and persevere by leaning on Jesus, who never abandons in temptation".

“Faith, tormented by the test of sloth – he concluded – does not lose its value. Indeed, it is the true faith, the very human faith, which despite everything, despite the darkness that blinds it, still humbly believes. It is that faith that remains in the heart, as the embers remain under the ashes."

Finally, greeting the groups of pilgrims present, he paid a special tribute to the 95-year-old Albanian cardinal Ernest Simoni, also today in the Paul VI Hall. “He is a living martyr – he said -. As a priest, as a bishop, he lived 28 years in prison, in the prisons of communist Albania, perhaps the cruelest persecution. And he continues to bear witness. And like him, many" he added, reiterating the thought already expressed several times according to which today in the world there are "even more martyrs than at the beginning" of Christianity.