How to Beat the Summer Noon-Day Devil of Acedia

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Summer is here, and it feels like it’s here to stay forever.

When the heat index rises and humidity levels seem unbearable, you may have noticed your tendency to grow slack in your prayer life.

Gone are the routines and rituals of Lent and Advent. It seems like Ordinary Time will never end.

If you’ve found yourself wanting to do anything but what you’re supposed to be doing, you may be battling acedia.

Sometimes referred to as the “Noon-Day Devil,” acedia isn’t just laziness, or the desire to do nothing. Rather, it’s a more specific kind of procrastination.

Acedia leaves you feeling apathetic and indifferent. It sucks the joy out of your daily tasks.

“The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, and carelessness of heart,” the Catechism explains.

Is it possible to beat acedia and the summer heat?

Here’s how to combat the acedia that may be creeping into your interior life:

1. Learn a lesson from monastics

If there’s anyone who has battled acedia and come out victorious, it’s the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

When the heat of the day hit them, it was tempting to abandon their life of reflection and hermitage on the desert.

Their secret weapon? Monastic routine.

Learning from their example doesn’t mean you abandon your vocation and run off to join a monastery. Instead, it starts with simply incorporating routine into your prayer life.

You could start by praying the Angelus at noon, or always starting the day with a morning offering. Maybe you spend intentional time meditating on the Rosary.

Regardless of what prayer your choose to focus on, remember that your routine can pull you out of an acedia-induced slump.

2. Get out on your front porch

If acedia is rooted in selfishness, what better way to combat this vice than to come outside of our shell (and our house) this summer?

Grab a lawn chair and sit on your front porch in the (hopefully cool) summer evenings. Say hello to your neighbors and have meaningful conversations with them.

Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice the air conditioning for a while. But connecting with the people who may be close enough to share a wall with you is worth the inconvenience of sweating a little bit.

3. Get familiar with Scripture

When Satan tempted Christ in the desert, the Lord turned to Scripture to combat the lies that the devil was offering.

Turn to passages that emphasize how the Lord said yes to the will of the Father, even when he didn’t desire it. This is particularly on display during Christ’s agony in the garden. Even the Lord prayed for the cup to pass, but he still obeyed God’s call for that moment.

It’s been mentioned already, but the Rosary is a particularly beautiful way to beat acedia when it comes to your interior life. The rote prayers add routine into your prayer, but the mysteries allow for your mind to wander around the life of Christ.

4. Psalmody, psalmody, psalmody

When someone once asked Saint Teresa of Avila how to fight off acedia, she answered with one word: “Psalmody.”

Take her one word of counsel to heart and spend time in the Psalms. Don’t feel like playing Psalm roulette? Start by praying some of the Liturgy of the Hours.

You don’t have to pray Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer every day (unless you’ve taken religious vows, in which case, you do). You can choose one or two times during the day to turn to the Psalms this summer and fight acedia in a practical way!

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