Acedia, Bane of Solitaries – Articles – House of Solitude – Hermitary

LYNNE SANDERS-BRAITHWAITE

Acedia or accedie has a narrow religious definition but is a far larger and wider psychological and spiritual term relevant to the history of eremiticism and solitude.The narrow sense is that of sloth, indolence, laziness, as in the Western world’s list of seven capital sins. Eastern Christianity is a little more comprehensive in referring to seven “temptations.” Acedia is a psychological rather than moral condition, with implications for modern attitudes toward culture, conformity, and contentment. Acedia was a historical bane to monks, hermits, solitaries, and — by extension — to any one spiritually or intellectually inclined.Acedia and the Desert Fathers and MothersThe concept of acedia begins with the ever-observant desert fathers and mothers who first perceived and diagnosed the condition. Their first impulse was to shoo it away like a pesky insect by keeping occupied, as in the narrative of Anthony beset “by many sinful thoughts” and cured by angelic…

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