The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault, Translated by Michael J. Miller

The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault

I finished reading this non-fiction Catholic book today, which explores Acedia, which, although it became subsumed in the deadly sin of Sloth, is not laziness. And I enjoyed reading this book, and recommend it to those weary of their lives.

The author of this book (which began life as a thesis) has been the Abbot of a monastery in France since 2009. After a Foreward by Bishop Marc Cardinal Ouellet, our author notes in an Introduction that Acedia is rarely spoken of today, which is odd, as it still very much exists. Essentially, the Noonday Devil leaves one feeling that one’s life has no purpose; it can manifest as both paralysis and despair, or in an excess of busywork.

Chapter One discusses Evagrius of Pontus (died 399) and the Desert Fathers; Evagrius very well and concisely described Acedia among the desert monks, and included Acedia as one of the Eight Wicked Thoughts. Our author then turns to John Cassion (died 433), Saint Benedict of Nursia (died 547), and Pope Saint Gregory the Great (died 604), who removed Acedia from his list of vices; Hugh of Saint Victor (died 1141) made the final list of deadly sins, where Acedia became Sloth. Chapter Two covers Saint Thomas Aquinas (died 1274), and his exploration of Acedia, ending with William of Ockham (died 1350), and the disappearance of Acedia. Chapter Three covers The Relevance of Acedia in Christian Life, and Chapter Four explores Acedia in the Different States of Life (Religious, Priestly, Married, and Single). The book ends with a Conclusion about The New Evangelization against Acedia.

This book is a bit dense, but well rewards those who remain with the book.

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