One of my Lenten practices this time is to fast on Mondays. The hunger is not the worst part. Rather, I find myself watching the clock and wondering when dinner is. When I realize that I’m not going to eat dinner, it is devastating, not because I want the food, but because I want to get away from what I’m doing and indulge the senses. But the real Lenten practice is interrogating these demons, so I now know who I’m dealing with: Acedia.
Evagrius calls Acedia the “noonday demon” because it strikes in the middle of the day. It is a bored restlessness that makes the sun move slowly across the sky. I did not think that I was vulnerable to it, but I think that is only because I did not know its name. We become so used to our own patterns of escape that we are no longer even conscious of them. It’s like there is nothing at all to be named, like we simply are this way.
As I work on being more attentive to these feeling during this Lenten season, I discover that Evagrius is right that the demons attack more viciously the closer we get to God. Preparing for Sunday is an intensely personal and spiritual activity for me. It cuts to the quick of who I am in all my strength and all my insecurity. I like the wrestling, but I also know I won’t leave unscathed. Right when I’m on the edge of an epiphany, the noonday demon tempts me to just walk away, so I quit. Get a snack, watch TV, play a game, drink some wine, check facebook – anything to avoid finding out who I am.
Evagrius also says that Acedia causes more trouble than all the other demons. When Acedia wins the battle, he props the door open for all the other demons to come back. Sadness, also known as Melancholy or Sloth, and Anger naturally follow Acedia. We know we have abandoned the fight and so we rage at the world or weep at its passing. We become certain that there is a better world out there and we are simply in the wrong place or with the wrong people or not the right person to be in that world. But God promises us that each of us is the right person for the life we have together and the world God desires.
Join us at 11am this Sunday at the Kessler as we discuss how to dismiss the demons that resist the world and find the way of Christ and the wisdom of Sophia, the very presence of God, in our lives.
Grace and Peace,
February 26: Our Demons, Our God, Ourselves
What does Jacob wrestle with?
March 4: Demons of Desire: Gluttony, Lust, and Avarice
How do we draw the world in and push God out?
March 11: Demons of Resistance: Sadness, Anger, and Acedia
How do we push the world away and God with it?
March 18: Demons of Reason: Pride (and Shame)
How do we lie to ourselves?
March 25: Fear
What is the source of the demons’ power?
April 1: Palm Sunday
What happens when we find the voice that God gave us?