Curated Discussion: Combating Restlessness
Start your meeting by reading from Father Jeremy McKemy’s blog post Acedia: The Two-Faced Demon.
After reading, take 2-3 minutes to write down your initial thoughts about the article.
Then, discuss the following questions as a group, or in smaller groups:
- Fr. Jeremy says that acedia strikes in different ways for everyone — some through activity and others through inactivity. In what situations and when does acedia hit you the hardest?
- How does acedia affect us? It is important to remember God’s saving power in our lives and that none is without hope of remedy. How are we distracting ourselves from this fact? When do you find yourself wasting the most time? How can this time be used restfully?
- If acedia tempts us to restlessness, it can be helpful to recall the words of St. Augustine in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” When you have you found rest in God in the past?
- Fr. Jeremy lists many remedies to acedia. Which of these is the most important for you to pursue right now?
- Fr. Jeremy also recounts Jean-Claude Larchet’s words that all remedies “should always be accompanied by prayer, which establishes them in God and makes of them not just simply human means.” How can we infuse prayer into our daily work?
Life is rhythmic, and we can notice our patterns if we pay attention. This is why the fathers included Psalm 90 in the Sixth Hour, as acedia often strikes hardest at noon. To defeat the demon of noonday, we should equip ourselves with the tools the Church provides to do so.
In the coming week, write in your notes when you’re falling to acedia — whether through hopelessness or through wasting time — and what led up to that moment. At the end of the day, ask Christ to fill your heart with zeal against this passion and remember the great hope we have in Christ, the Source of all remedies and our great Caretaker.
Here are some other tools:
- Find a short prayer to read every time you’re tempted with distraction. It can be as simple as the Jesus Prayer or “Most Holy Theotokos, save us” or something of your own.
- Every morning, write down what you think your day’s challenges will be, and ask Christ to give you hope during them. At the end of the day, write the silver linings that Christ gave you amidst your struggles, and give Him thanks for that.
- Set a timer on social media or other distractions in your life and give the remaining moments that you would’ve spent on distraction to caring for those in your life. Text and check up on your friends, call your parents, or simply repeat the Jesus Prayer.
Before departing, read the following passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions and afterwards chant or read Psalm 90.
Who will grant it to me to find peace in you? Who will grant me this grace, that you should come into my heart and inebriate it, enabling me to forget the evils that beset me and embrace you, my only good? What are you to me? Have mercy on me, so that I may tell. What indeed am I to you, that you should command me to love you, and grow angry with me if I do not, and threaten me with enormous woes? Is not the failure to love you woe enough in itself? Alas for me! Through your own merciful dealings with me, O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul, I am your salvation. Say it so that I can hear it. My heart is listening, Lord; open the ears of my heart and say to my soul, I am your salvation. Let me run towards this voice and seize hold of you. Do not hide your face from me: let me die so that I may see it, for not to see it would be death to me indeed.St. Augustine’s Confessions
He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven.Psalm 90
He shall say unto the Lord: Thou art my helper and my refuge. He is my God, and I will hope in Him.
For He shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters and from every troubling word.
With His shoulders will He overshadow thee, and under His wings shalt thou have hope.
With a shield will His truth encompass thee; thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day,
Nor for the thing that walketh in darkness, nor for the mishap and demon of noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but unto thee shall it not come nigh.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and thou shalt see the reward of sinners.
For Thou, O Lord, art my hope. Thou madest the Most High thy refuge;
No evils shall come nigh thee, and no scourge shall draw nigh unto thy dwelling.
For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
On their hands shall they bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Upon the asp and basilisk shalt thou tread, and thou shalt trample upon the lion and dragon.
For he hath set his hope on Me, and I will deliver him; I will shelter him because he hath known My name.
He shall cry unto Me, and I will hearken unto him. I am with him in affliction, and I will rescue him and glorify him.
With length of days will I satisfy him, and I will show him My salvation.