Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Ash Wednesday General Audience with Pope Francis 02.14.2024


Pope Francis holds his weekly General AudiencePope Francis holds his weekly General Audience  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope at Audience: Everything is possible with patience of faith

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis cycle on the virtues and vices, focusing on acedia, or laziness, which he says can be overcome with the patience of faith.

By Francesca Merlo

Continuing his cycle of cathesis on virtues and vices, Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis at his Wednesday General Audience to "a sin that is often overlooked": acedia. The Holy Father began by noting that the term is often substituted by another, much more commonly used one: laziness.

"In reality, laziness is an effect more than a cause,"  noted the Pope, explaining that "when a person is idle, indolent, or apathetic, we say they are lazy. But as the wisdom of the ancient desert fathers teaches us, often the root is acedia, which from its Greek origin literally means a 'lack of care'."

Pope Francis went on to note that laziness is a very dangerous temptation, since "all those who feel it begin to regret the passing of time, and the youth that is irretrievably behind them."

"Noonday demon"

Referring to acedia as the "noonday demon," Pope Francis explained that it "grips us in the middle of the day, when fatigue is at its peak and the hours ahead of us seem monotonous, impossible to bear."

He recalled a description of the feeling written by the monk Evagrius, noting that contemporary readers perceive in his descriptions as "something that closely recalls the evil of depression, both from a psychological and a philosophical point of view."

In fact, the Pope continued, those gripped by acedia do feel that their life loses significance. "It is like dying in advance," said the Pope.

Patience of faith

In stressing the dangers of this vice, the Holy Father stressed that the "masters of spirituality" envisage various remedies, one of which, the Pope notes, "seems the most important": the patience of faith.

"Despite the desire to be 'elsewhere', one must have the courage to remain and to welcome God's presence in the here and now,"  said Pope Francis.

He recalled that the monks say that for them, the cell is the best teacher of life because it is the place that concretely and daily speaks to us in our love story with the Lord.

Bringing his catechesis to a close, Pope Francis noted that the battle of acedia is a decisive one and that it "must be won at all costs."

Not even the saints were spared

"It is a battle that did not spare even the saints," noted the Pope, explaining that many of their diaries recounted such moments.

He said they urged those who feel tempted to laziness "to maintain a smaller measure of commitment, to set goals more within reach, but at the same time to endure, to persevere by leaning on Jesus, who never abandons us in temptation."

Finally, the Pope noted that faith, even when tormented by the test of acedia, does not lose its value. "On the contrary," he concluded, "it is the true faith, the very human faith, which despite everything, despite the darkness that blinds it, still humbly believes."

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