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.