Wrestling with Acedia, the Noonday Devil

Pat’s comment on yesterday’s blog post reminded me of a dogeared page in my prayer manual, The Divine Hours. Last Saturday night I was struck by the deeply depressed tone of the vespers Psalm:

L13uphillORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble. Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me, for my days drift away like smoke, and my bones are hot as burning coals. My heart is smitten like grass and withered, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the voice of my groaning I am but skin and bones. I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake and groan; I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top. -Psalm 102:1-7

Acedia, an ancient term for suffocating gloom that robs one’s soul of joy in God. The sin of sadness, one of the original 8 deadly sins, a list pared down to seven by Gregory the Great (I wonder if he suffered from depression).

Acedia isn’t the kind of sadness that comes over you when you actually have something to be sad about – a death in the family, illness, the loss of a job, divorce. Acedia is more of an ennui, an apathy. What used to bring you joy and comfort seems meaningless. Love becomes cold and indifferent. Hopelessness reigns. A soul robbed of color and light by the Noonday Devil.

Do you suffer from acedia? Do you know someone who does? Be a friend. Listen. Be a friend to yourself, listen to yourself without judgement. Be still. Be still and know God is here with you.

Today, at noonday prayer, I read:

If the LORD had not come to my help, I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence. As often as I said, “My foot has slipped,” your love, O LORD, upheld me. When many cares fill my mind, your consolations cheer my soul. -Psalm 94:17-19


TODAY’S EXERCISE: 1.5 hrs. Power Vinyasa Yoga


~ by Kimberly Mason on March 12, 2009.

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