Thoughts for Reflection from Benedictine & Monastic Authors

Day by Day

Life Lessons from the Monastery image


“A wonderful passage in the Institutes of John Cassian (360435), a monastic source for St. Benedict, catches a monk in the middle of the day, experiencing the tedium of his life:
He dreams of monasteries a long way off, and describes such places as more profitable and better suited for salvation; and he paints the life of the community there as beautiful and full of spiritual life. On the other hand, he says that everything around him is rough, and there is nothing edifying in the brothers who live with him. He imagines that he will never be well unless he leaves as quickly as possible. He sighs that none of the community ever come to visit him, and he often goes in and out of his cell, gazing at the sun as if it was too slow in setting. (Book X, chapter 2)
For the Latin term for this malady is acedia, which Cassian defines as “weariness or distress of heart.” It is akin to the capital sin of sloth. A scriptural reference was seen in Psalm 91:6, which mentions “the sickness that lays Waste at midday,” but its flavor was best captured by the monk and desert father Evagrius (346-399) as the “noonday devil.”
Noonday refers to the middle of the day, but it may also mean the middle of life, with the noonday devil as a vivid image for the midlife crisis. There is a weariness that may settle in with the monotony of life day after day. “
Pg 75

From:  Life Lessons from the Monastery
by Jerome Kodell, OSB

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