, , , , ,


Previously, we have addressed the Deadly Sins of pride, avarice, envy, and anger. This week, we will look at the antidote to the Deadly Sin of sloth. We are not talking about the slow-moving mammals which spend their days hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rain forests of South and Central America. Sloth is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as “‘sorrow about spiritual good’, or joylessness when faced with God as our supreme joy.”[1]

Sloth is a sin against charity, one of the three theological virtues, which directs our hearts toward God. “Faith, hope, and charity are our spiritual glue,” says Peter Kreeft. “Whatever dissolves this glue is mortally sinful; whatever can remove faith, hope, and charity can kill God’s life in our soul. And sloth does just that.”[2] Sloth robs us of our thirst for God, our desire for Him as our ultimate good. A slothful person stops seeking God, complacent in the matters of the faith. In response to God’s offer of eternal salvation and friendship with Him, sloth says, “I’m good. Thanks, but no thanks.”

Kreeft says “sloth is the most depressing thing in the world. It is hell on earth. It finds our very highest joy – God himself – joyless.”[3] Sloth is not for God or against God, but mainly “sits on the sidelines bored while life and death are at stake.”[4] If you find this statement severe, consider the words of Sacred Scripture…

“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

We live in a despondent and hopeless culture. “There is a deep spiritual sorrow at the heart of modern civilization,” says Kreeft, “because it is the first civilization in all of history that does not know who it is or why it is, that cannot answer the three great questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going?”[5] In our culture, life has no meaning.

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. St. Augustine of Hippo, in his autobiography Confessions, 397-400 AD

The antidote to the sin of sloth is faith, an unquenchable desire for God and His righteousness, joy, love, and mercy. As the Beatitude says, we must “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt 5:6). Christ calls those who do so “blessed” and “satisfied.” Jesus also hungers and thirsts. He hungers and thirsts for you and all of humanity. He came to save us from sin and death. He died an excruciating death on the Cross to free us from the powers of hell. Jesus’ words on the cross, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28), were not about slaking a physical thirst, but a thirst for souls.

The word “righteousness” (dikaiosune) means equity, justice, integrity. Righteousness means to give to each man his due based upon his conformity to the divine standard of perfect holiness. God as our Creator, is due our worship and praise. To be righteous is to be in right living with God.

My eyes long to see your salvation and the promise of your righteousness. Psalm 119:123

The Psalmist thirsted for the living God. This should be our attitude towards God. Our aim should be on receiving the crown of life, our eternal reward with God in Heaven. Your job as a husband or wife is to get your spouse to Heaven. Together as husband and wife, your job is to get any children you may be blessed with to Heaven. Your job as a family is get others to Heaven.

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3

May your righteousness shine for all to see. May God bless you with the desires of your heart and may your home be blessed, for the glory of God, now and forever.

This is the eighth installment in our Lenten series on virtue. The previous reflections can be found at the links below:

Living Virtue Well in Our Marriages and Families

The Cardinal Virtues

The Beatitudes Confront the Seven Deadly Sins

Confronting Pride

Confronting Avarice

Confronting Envy

Confronting Anger

[1] Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 153.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 154.

[4] Ibid., 155.

[5] Ibid., 156.