“ The man is trying hard to pray. He’s desperate to get sorted out, but every time he tries to pray it just seems so hard.
Sometimes he feels desperately tired…sleep seems a more attractive proposition than prayer, and no matter how hard he tries his eyelids heavy and his mind dulls. Even the tried and tested ways to prayer…daily office, lectio…seem to be as dry as dust.
On the rare occasions he does pull himself into an attitude of prayer, the prayer turns into a list of critical and judgemental tirades against the people in this place who have caused his present situation. He feels ashamed and gives up.
Other times he just has too much to do to pray. He wants to be up and out, meeting people, using his time well, full of distraction and action.
He begins to feel that as long as he stays where he is, his relationship with God will suffer and will never be right again. Perhaps he was wrong to settle here in the first place…perhaps he misheard what God said.
One day, he’s reading some of the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and comes across a story of St Anthony that holds out a glimmer of hope.”
To be continued…
Staying in the ‘cell’ and praying is one of the most difficult things to do when acedia strikes. We are faced by the twin enemies of either weariness or over-business, as methods to either forget how we feel or to find some kind of pleasant distraction. A critical spirit, uncertainty about our calling and even a sense of God’s disapproval hangs over us like a cloud.
“ And so the wretched soul, embarrassed by such contrivances of the enemy, is disturbed, until, worn out by the spirit of acedia…it either learns to sink into slumber, or…accustoms itself to seek for consolation under these attacks in visiting some brother, only to be afterwards weakened the more by this remedy which it seeks for the present” John Cassian “Institutes” Chapter 3