Book Review: The Noonday Devil

Full title: The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of our Times

Author: Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B., Abbot of Saint-Wandrille

Acedia, sometimes known as sloth, is the lack of desire for good, the avoidance of doing what we should, to which we are especially prone at midday.

The ‘afternoon slump’ most people experience is often due, at least in part, to this spiritual oppression. In the same way, the ‘midlife crisis’ from which many suffer (at the midday of life), in which we sometimes abandon our duties and seek happiness in activities that are ultimately pointless and harmful, is an extreme manifestation of this evil.

Abbot Nault explores how this sin has been understood throughout the history of the Church, and how to our detriment, we often forget about it. In this book we also find  solutions, tried and tested by the saints. At the end of the book, the Abbot gives a sobering explanation of how acedia affects people in various states of life: monastic life, priesthood, married life, and single life.

The part of the book covering St Thomas Aquinas requires more energy to read than the other parts, simply because it is densely packed with theology and abstract concepts. If you’re slow and dim like me, you’ll just have to underline everything, but it’s well worth reading.

This book will change the way you look at your life and your daily activities. Give it a go!

Also pray to St Anthony of the Desert, who was plagued by this devil for a long time.

Credo

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem caeli et terrae,
visibilium omnium et invisibilium,
Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum,
Filium Dei unigenitum,
et ex Patre natum, ante omnia saecula,
Deum de Deo, lumen de Lumine,
Deum verum de Deo vero,
genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri:
per quem omnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto
ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato;
passus et sepultus est,
et resurrexit tertia die, secundem Scripturas,
et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria,
iudicare vivos et mortuos,
cuius regni non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem:
qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.
Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur:
qui locutus est per prophetas.
Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.
Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum.
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

Saint Martha and Saint Lazarus

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42)

 

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord”, Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord”, she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

(John 11:20-27)

 

Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.

(John 11:5)