Sloth and Diligence in the Christian Life

Construction Worker Portrait - Photograph Courtesy of Saad Akhtar

Photograph Courtesy of Saad Akhtar

One of the seven vices is Sloth, a reluctance to work or make an effort. This can apply not only to work but to the Christian faith. Not going to Mass because there is something good on television, or going to a sports event, or because it seems so much better to sit in the garden or on the beach on a warm sunny day. We are all human and who hasn’t at times wanted to lie in bed on a particularly cold or rainy day and not get up for Mass on a Sunday morning or fulfill a holy day of Obligation after a busy day at work or spent looking after children or other relatives.

It can also apply to Catholic devotions such as praying the Rosary, the Lord’s Prayer or other daily prayers which keep us close to our faith. Much can get in the way of prayer, again including work, or everyday life, family emergencies and countless other things which can take the mind away from God.

Smiling Sloth - Screencapture - Photograph Courtesy Andrum99

Photograph Courtesy Andrum99

It can be easy to be distracted and sometimes it can be difficult to find the way back to God and the Christian way of life. The Devil will use as many distractions as he can to turn even the most devout from God

In Romans 12: 9-13, it states “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, love one another with brotherly affection, outdo one another in showing honour. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality”

That passage from the Bible sums up our Catholic faith, let our love for God be true and steadfast, never flag in zeal for God and always be ready to serve him, and through him, those in need.

Be constant in prayer, how many times have I thought, I didn’t have time to pray a Rosary before work or just couldn’t summon up the interest because there was something “better” to do. I could spend time on social media, watch a film or just go shopping or to meet friends. It can take a little forethought not to fall victim to the sin of Sloth.

Hammer Santa Monica Pier - Photograph Courtesy of Reuben Francis Cornel

Photograph Courtesy of Reuben Francis Cornel

Now when I know I have an early shift, I get up half an hour earlier or if time is really pressing, I will pray my Rosary while walking to work. The same with other devotions, I love to pray and it gives me an inner sense of peace to know that my prayer intentions are been heard by God.

It is necessary to offer hospitality to God and his saints in our hearts and minds, that way the Devil cannot use the sin of Sloth against us as we remain steadfast in our beliefs.

Once faith, prayer and the practice of going to Mass starts to fall away then it becomes so much harder to come back to God. Weeks, months or years might pass before a person who has lapsed might think about coming back to the Church, but the effort might seem a little too much and the decision is put off time and time again with the excuse, “Well, I don’t really have time this week, I will try next week or “I was going to pray a Rosary but then something else cropped up and then I was too tired or not in the right frame of mind.

Making time to spend a few minutes in church is good, but how many people walk past their church because they did not want to “waste” even a few seconds of their precious day. God will wait but as he said to St Faustina, while she was at a dance, “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting me off.”

Powerful words from Jesus and it spurred the young Helen Kowalska, into answering the Lord’s request. She would become a faithful servant of God and her mission was to bring the Divine Mercy to a world which was in great need of prayer especially in the years leading up to World War Two and beyond into our own era.

Wood Working Tools from Dong Yang - Photograph Courtesy of Yi Chen

Photograph Courtesy of Yi Chen

The Virtue of Diligence can counteract the effects of the sin of Sloth and brings us all to God; this is the desire to be inspired by the zeal of divine love of our Lord. He is patient, he is kind but he will not interfere with our free will.

In Ecclesiastes 11: 1-6, it states, “Cast your bread upon the waters for you to find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight for you know not what evil may happen on Earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves out on the earth. And if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow; and he who regards the clouds will not reap”

“As you do not know how the spirit comes to the womb, of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything”

‘In the morning sow your seed and in the evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or wherever both alike will be good.”

This passage seems to refer to being diligent in our faith and encouraging others to do the same. If we make the effort to go to Church and be firm in our faith, others may follow our example. Every new convert to the Catholic Church is a blow to the Devil.

If we are like the fallen tree, which just lies where it falls then we are guilty of the sin of Sloth for if there is no action, and then there will be no reaction! Faith and love of God cannot grow in a barren heart and Ecclesiastes 11:6 urge us to sow our seed in the morning and not to withhold our hand in the evening, our Faith must remain strong and God should be a constant in our lives. It is good to make the effort to be a good and committed Christian Catholic and an example to those who have lost their way.

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