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Step 13

ON WEARISOMENESS OR SLUGGISHNESS.

1. Weariness or sluggishness is like detraction, frequently an offshoot from the intemperance of the tongue, and one of the oldest of its children. For this reason I have placed it here, as the most appropriate place in the chain of vices.

2. This wearisomeness is a depression of the soul, a fainting of the spirit, a disgust of spiritual exercises, an aversion to the religious life, which has been solemnly professed. It is the calumniator of God, whom it accuses of being cruel and hard-hearted.

3. Whilst under the influence of this weariness, the soul is languid in chanting the psalms, sluggish at prayer, but indefatigable, and hard as iron in bodily exercises, diligent and laborious in manual labour, and prompt and alert in all the duties of obedience.

4. He who lives submissively under a superior in a religious community, is unacquainted with this passion, because he makes the ministration of the temporal things with which he is occupied, subservient to the regulation of his spiritual duties.

5. The community life of monasteries is opposed to weariness. But anchorites have this enemy for their constant companion in solitude. It never forsakes them until death steps between it and its victims. Hence it never ceases until the last hour of life the warfare which it wages against them. When it sees the cell of any solitary it smiles, creeps nearer and nearer, and establishes its dwelling place in the immediate neighborhood.

6. The physician generally visits his patients in the morning, but this interior languor usually calls upon those who lead a religious life, about mid-day.

7. It prompts those who are under its influence to perform with care the duties of hospitality, and conjures the brethren to labour strenuously with their hands, that they may have much to bestow in alms. Others it encourages very earnestly to visit the sick, by reminding them of the words of Jesus Christ: “I was sick, and you visited me.”1 It induces them to go and see those who are sad or desponding, and it inspires them to console and strengthen the weak, when in reality there is no one more languid, more feeble than themselves.

8. When at divine office and at prayer, it calls to our remembrance something that appears urgent and necessary; and, however unreasonable the thing may be, it endeavours with all its energy to withdraw us under some specious pretext from our holy occupation.

9. This demon of wearisomeness makes us feel, about three hours before bedtime, shivering, headaches, symptoms of fever, and pains in the bowels. About noon it brings on oppression and tiredness, but when the table is spread, and the dinner ready, we feel that we could leap over the moon for joy. When, however, the hour of divine office and prayer has returned, the body again becomes heavy and languid. If we being to pray it brings on drowsiness, and by the yawnings which it untimely excites, it prevents us from pronouncing the concluding words in the verses of the psalms.

10. Each one of the virtues destroys the vice to which it is opposed; but this unhappy wearisomeness is generally the death of all the virtues that adorn a religious life.

11. A generous soul rekindles, reanimates its spirit, when it is cast down, and as it were dead; but this weariness and languor in a sluggish soul scatters and wastes all the treasure of virtue. As this vice is the most dangerous of all the eight capital vices, let us follow the method we have pursued, in our treatment of the other passions. Previously, however, we will subjoin two or three articles to what we have already said.

12. This weariness does not attack us when we are not at the divine office, and our eyes are opened the moment we have finished reciting the psalms.

13. It is during the time of combat that we may know whether we are doing a holy violence to ourselves or not. For there is nothing which wins for a solitary so many crowns as his successful war upon this passion.

14. You will perceive if you make diligent observation that this demon tempts those who are standing, to be seated; and those who are seated, to support themselves against the wall, to look out through the windows of their cells, and to make a noise in beating time with their feet.

15. He who bewails his sins with the sentiments of true repentance, is never afflicted with this malady.

16. Let us, therefore, chain down this tyrant by the remembrance of our sins. Let us strike him manfully with the labour of our hands. Let us drag him forth to justice by the consideration of the good things to come, and oblige him to appear before the tribunal of reason; there let us put to him these questions:

17. “Base coward as thou art, tell me, from whom didst thou receive thy unhappy birth? What is thy family? Who are they that fight against thee? Who is he that slays thee?” Feeling himself under this constraint, he may, perhaps, reply in the following terms: “I find no place of repose amongst religious, who are truly obedient. But by the solitaries of the desert I am kindly received, and with them I make my abode. I derive my origin from many different causes, – at one time from insensibility of soul; at another from the forgetfulness of celestial happiness; and not infrequently from excessive bodily labour. My children are restlessness and instability, which are perpetually roaming from place to place. My companions are contempt for the orders of the spiritual director, forgetfulness of the last judgment, and sometimes the total abandonment of the religious profession. My adversaries that bind me down, as you see, are the chanting of the psalms and manual labour. The opponent that conquers me is the meditation of death. But the enemy that kills me is prayer, joined to a firm hope of eternal happiness. If you wish to know whence prayer derives its birth, you have but to consult, and ask itself.”

He who has succeeded in attaining this thirteenth step, or victory, runs with ardour in the way of virtue.


  1. Matt. xxv. 36.



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