Paget on Sloth (from The Spirit of Discipline)

Yes, let us put together in thought the traits which meet in the picture of accidie; let us think of it in its contrast with that brightness of spiritual joy which plays around some lives, and makes the nameless, winning beauty of some souls, aye, and even of some faces; and we may recognize it, perhaps, as a cloud that has sometimes lowered near our own lives; as a storm that we have seen sweeping across the sky and hiding the horizon, even though, it may be, by God’s grace only the edge of it reached to us, only a few drops fell where we were. Heaviness, gloom, coldness, sullenness, distaste and desultory sloth in work and prayer, joylessness and thanklessness, do we not know something of the threatenings, at least, of a mood in which these meet? The mood of days on which it seems as though we cannot genuinely laugh, as though we cannot get rid of a dull or acrid tone in our voice; when it seems impossible frankly to rejoice with them that do rejoice, and equally impossible to go freely out in any true, unselfish sympathy with sorrow; days when, as one has said, everything that everybody does seems inopportune and out of good taste; days when the things that are true and honest, just and pure, lovely and of good report, seem to have lost all loveliness and glow and charm of hue, and look as dismal as a flat country in the drizzling mist of an east wind; days when we might be cynical if we had a little more energy in us; when all enthusiasm and confidence of hope, all sense of a Divine impulse, flags out of our work; when the schemes which we have begun look stale and poor and unattractive as the scenery of an empty stage by daylight; days when there is nothing that we like to do; when, without anything to complain of, nothing stirs so readily in us as complaint. Oh, if we know anything at all of such a mood as this, let us be careful how we think of it, how we deal with it; for perhaps it may not be far from that sorrow of the world which, in those who willingly indulge and welcome and invite its presence, worketh death.

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