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Friday, 21 June 2013

The Deceitfulness of Sloth-Thomas Aquinas Series

Bruegel's Sloth
Recently, and correctly, His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke stated that the lack of catechesis was one if not the reason for the weakening of the Church. I, as an ex-catechist, agree wholeheartedly. No one is interested in hiring me or taking me on as a volunteer catechist because people simply do not want it.

But, I think the reason behind this lack of catechesis must be addressed and I have tried to do so on this blog. The root problem lies in the anti-intellectualism which crept into the Church most likely after World War II. I use that date as the push for pan-Christianity in the face of pagan Nazism and the dialectic materialism of Communism created a panic even between the wars in the upper echelons of the Church, driving many leader and theologians to desire a false ecumenism.

The movement to accept protestantism into the mainstream liturgy, prayer and thought of the Catholic Church brought with it anti-intellectualism, which is directly related to sola fide and sola Scriptura. A good protestant did not need anything but the Scriptures, his own interpretation and his own relationship with God to be saved, omitting all the Tradition, the great writings of the Church for a millenium and a half before Luther.

This anti-intellectualism is rife in the Catholic Church in England. To find people in the pew who read, much less study the Faith is rare, indeed. The emphasis for most is on experience, as I have pointed out here before and sadly, both private revelations, approved and unapproved, as well as the charismatic focus on consolations from God.

Until the pastors address this anti-intellectualism in the Church here, factions and heresies will grow and continue to fragment the Church, making the Church unable to address the issues of the day.

Catechesis is lacking, but people can find all the information they want online.

Why do they not?


I have too many lay people tell me they do not have time, and then they proceed to tell me what shows they watched this weekend.



Until bishops and priests address anti-intellectualism and the complete waste of time syndrome, which makes people feel that they are entitled to down time, the Church will continue to rot away from within.

Down-time is a new phrase of the past twenty years. I do not know what down-time is and neither do the nuns of Tyburn, who have 45 minutes of recreation a day.

Why do we feel entitled to down-time? The most productive people I know pray and go to Mass and read and still have time for work, family and even fun.

Kicking the ball around outside with the kids is important, but not canned entertainment.

Musical lessons, sports, all these things find the mind.

The more one prays, the less down-time one needs.

I am not sure we can stop the rot of the Church at large until priests from the pulpit challenge their parishioners to grow up and study their faith and, of course, pray.

 Thomas Aquinas writes on sloth-not the entire discussion which is found here.

Sloth, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 14) is an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs uponman's mind, that he wants to do nothing; thus acid things are also cold. Hence sloth implies a certain weariness of work, as appears from a gloss on Psalm 106:18, "Their soul abhorred all manner of meat," and from the definition of some who say that sloth is a "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good."

Now this sorrow is always evil, sometimes in itself, sometimes in its effect. For sorrow is evil in itself when it is about that which is apparently evil but good in reality, even as, on the other hand, pleasure is evil if it is about that which seems to be good but is, in truthevil. Since, then, spiritual good is a good in very truth, sorrow about spiritual good is evil in itself. And yet that sorrow also which is about a real evil, is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away entirely from good deeds. Hence the Apostle (2 Corinthians 2:7) did not wish those who repented to be "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow."

Accordingly, since sloth, as we understand it here, denotes sorrow for spiritual good, it is evil on two counts, both in itself and in point of its effect. Consequently it is a sin, for by sin we mean an evil movement of the appetite, as appears from what has been said above (10, 2; I-II, 74, 4).


Since sloth is sorrow for spiritual good, if we take spiritual good in a general way, sloth will not be a special vice, because, as stated above (I-II, 71, 1), every vice shuns the spiritual good of its opposite virtue. Again it cannot be said thatsloth is a special vice, in so far as it shuns spiritual good, as toilsome, or troublesome to the body, or as a hindrance to the body's pleasure, for this again would not sever sloth from carnal vices, whereby a man seeks bodily comfort and pleasure.

Wherefore we must say that a certain order exists among spiritual goods, since all the spiritual goods that are in the acts of each virtue are directed to one spiritual good, which is the Divine good, about which there is a special virtue, viz. charity. Hence it is proper to each virtue to rejoice in its own spiritual good, which consists in its own act, while it belongs specially to charityto have that spiritual joy whereby one rejoices in the Divine good. On like manner the sorrow whereby one is displeased at the spiritual good which is in each act of virtue, belongs, not to any special vice, but to every vice, but sorrow in the Divine good about which charity rejoices, belongs to a special vice, which is called sloth. This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.

To be continued...