August 10th is the day Americans celebrate ‘National Lazy Day.’ I was going to do research on the history and origin of the holiday, but I didn’t feel like doing that at all. So instead I’m lounging at the computer in my pajamas, drinking an iced latte and wasting the day away. How could I pass up the opportunity to celebrate this kind of holiday?
Just kidding. Okay, you got me, I am drinking an iced latte, but the rest isn’t true.
During college, I was notorious for putting off that paper that I knew I needed to do, but instead working ahead in another class that was easier. That struggle to concentrate on a task at hand unfortunately wasn’t something that I left behind with college graduation. To this day, when I sit down to write a blog post I know needs to be published soon, the laundry in the dryer all of the sudden begs to be folded right now.
In an Ascension Presents video, Father Mike Schmitz explained by saying, “Procrastination doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. It means that I’m doing everything but that one thing I know I’m supposed to be doing.”
I don’t think I’m alone in my struggle with procrastination. Through conversation with people much wiser than myself, I’ve found that, especially as millennials, we all at one point or another grapple with the vice of acedia.
What exactly is acedia? It's a term that I just heard of in the past few months. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and author of the Summa describes acedia as a 'sadness about a spiritual good' and 'disgust with activity.'
And it's not a struggle that's new to just millennials. Instead, it's something that Christians have been wrestling with since the early days of the Church. The Desert Father, Evagrius of Pontus, described how he and his fellow monks struggled with the urges to leave their monastic cell and duties, to become indifferent to the beauty of the faith, and think that their vocation was useless in their world.
What is the answer to acedia? How do we stop avoiding what God is calling us to do and start authentically living out His will in our lives?
In his first Mass as pope, Father Benedict said: “To flee mediocrity and to be faithful to the sublime vocation to which man is called – to become a saint – it is necessary to remain faithful in the little things."
The answer is much simpler than I thought - faithfulness to the tasks that Christ asks of us punches acedia in the face.
If you, like me, have struggled today with keeping on task, and little distractions keep begging for your attention, let’s make the most of the rest of today. And all of tomorrow, and the next day. When our energy levels hit rock bottom and we're tempted to procrastinate from the task that we know we're being called to do, let's remember Father Benedict's call to faithfulness in the little things.
Let's not celebrate national lazy day. Fight against the urge to run away from the one thing God is calling you to do in this moment. Boldly accept the call to intentionally following His will for your life.