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The Catechism Explained on Sloth September 22, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

Sloth is one of the seven capital, or deadly, sins, but it is one we don’t often hear about.  The worst kind of sloth is spiritual sloth – a failure to do one’s duty in fulfilling the Precepts of the Church, certainly – but also a failure to grow in Grace and live to the fullest potential all God’s myriad gifts to us.  We all sin in sloth to one degree or another.  The lukewarm Christian are the ones God despises most.  From The Catechism Explained, pp. 507-8:

The Opposite of Zeal: Sloth

Sloth consists in shunning everything that conduces either to our temporal or eternal well-being, provided it be toilsome.

Sloth displays itself either by indolence, dislike of work, and the non-fulfillment even of the duties of one’s calling; or by tepidity in and indifference to what is good and conducive to one’s spiritual welfare.  The slothful man displays distaste for all good works.  We find life and movement and activity in all nature; the celestial hosts laud and magnify the Most High continually…..the tiny ant lays up a store in summer, the busy bees make honey and do not suffer drones to live; and shall man alone be a be an idler, an exception to all creatures whom instinct teaches to abhor idleness?……...The indolent postpone all work to a future day, and only pursue sensual pleasures.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, not today, is their cry.  The lukewarm Christian wills and does not will; he would fain have the wages God gives, but he will not work for Him; as soon as it is a question of putting force upon himself he shrinks back.  Yet the slothful think they do more than others, for while the fervent look at those who do better than themselves, to learn humility, the slothful on the contrary look at the good, not in others, but in themselves. [And if you’re anything like me, you might exaggerate that good quite a bit!  I really think this is a bit of particular wisdom here on the tendency for our fallen natures to try extol ourselves relative to others in terms of how much work we do.  We all think we’re the little red hen] Hence the slothful never attain perfection.  Great sinners have been known to become great saints, but the lukewarm, never.

Idleness leads to all kinds of vice; it brings misery in this life and eternal damnation in the life to come.

Idleness hath taught much evil (Eccl xxxiii:29);  it is in fact the source of every evil habit.  Man is like the earth; if a field be not sown with good seed, a crop of weeds spring up and grow apace; so if man has no useful occupation, his natural activity turns to all manner of mischief……[M]an corrupted by idleness becomes the abode of evil passions, and falls into manifold temptations.  The busy man is assailed by one demon, the unemployed by a hundred.  Idleness ruins the young, for it destroys all that is good in them…..Idleness brings misery in life.  Holy Scripture says of the slothful: “Want shall come upon thee and poverty” (Prov vi:11).  St. John Chrysostom declares idleness to be the parent of poverty and the root of despair.  It also brings a man to eternal damnation.  Idleness is in itself a sin.  A servant may not steal, or dink , or be insolent; but if he has the fault of being lazy, his master will dismiss him from his service.  God acts in the same manner.  “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire” (Matt vii:19)…….The idler cannot indeed hope that Heaven will be his portion, for Our Lord says: “Call the laborers and give them their hire.”  God does not love those who love their own ease.  He expressly states that those who are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, He will vomit out of His mouth (Apoc iii:16), that is, to say, He is disgusted with them.  Our God is a consuming fire, and He delights in the adoration of the Seraphim, who are inflamed with burning love.  An open unbeliever is less abhorrent to Him than a tepid Christian.  [For the unbeliever have not the Light of Faith, while the Catholic Christian should have no such excuse, though in this day and age, this is perhaps a bit less certain. How many Catholics, think you, have ever heard a strong sermon on the sin of sloth, especially in the spiritual sense?  Speaking of comparing ourselves well to others, how many rah-rah, you’re doing fine and maybe just need a slight tweak to be super-awesome sermons have you heard?  I’ve had a lifetime full of those, already.]

Those who are inclined to indolence should think frequently of the reward, both temporal and eternal, of industry, and thus they will overcome their distaste for work.

“Look not, O Christian,” says St. Augustine, “on the labor that it costs thee; look rather to the rest and the joys which God promises thee; see how infinitely they outweigh all thy toil.”  “In doing good, let us not fail; for in due time we shall reap, not failing” (Gal vi:9).

————End Quote————

I haven’t quoted from this 19th century Catechism for some time.  I have a lot of material I’d like to pull from it but these posts take quite a bit of effort.  This catechism is a gem, though.  I have some quibbles with a few points but 99% is rock solid.  I highly encourage its use for personal edification or, perhaps especially, for forming older (teen) children.


1. tg - September 23, 2015

Could this be what the Pope is speaking about -giving work to young people? It keeps them out of trouble. I’m just giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Margaret Costello - September 23, 2015

My response would be…if you don’t have a paying job then go out and volunteer, evangelize, learn something new, help others etc. I don’t think industry in this sense is strictly a paying job, it’s doing your duty, and for a Catholic in this world that means the spiritual and corporal works of mercy too:+) God bless~

Tantumblogo - September 23, 2015

I think the focus on “giving” – as in making, providing, handing over, etc – a pre-made job to a young person is a problematic viewpoint. Even if one doesn’t have a job, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to just lay around all day watching TV, getting high, and bitching about how bad you have it. Yes there is some aspect of opposition to sloth in the Pope’s words, but a subsidiary aspect: the main point was a criticism of Western countries for failing to have ready-made jobs for youth. I explained that it is the very socialist policies that have led to this stagnant situation where it is almost impossible for people under 30 to find a job.

2. Margaret Costello - September 23, 2015

Good stuff! God bless~

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