I often ask how many midlife crises one can experience, because I feel like I’ve gone through a bunch of them. After what I’ve learned about acedia, it’s clear that I’ve gone through a lot of midlife crises.
Holy Week and this past Easter week – indeed, the latter weeks of Lent – my body and soul have been tired and paralyzed with inertia. Much of this can certainly stem from pandemic stress and the upending of my nascent spiritual routine. I’ve fallen off the one relatively concrete spiritual habit I’ve been able to develop – the thrice-daily Angelus prayer – and I don’t even bother agonizing over my neglect of the Rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet and morning prayer.
Fortunately, I still pray through the Liturgy of the Word with the tween on Sunday mornings. We still pray at bedtime. There’s that. Otherwise, I have been fairly far from God.
After praying the liturgy this morning, I viewed a great short video from Fr. Mike Schmitz on acedia. This post is my attempt to collect my notes on this video, which I recommend you view.
Fr. Schmitz describes acedia being “a microcosm of a midlife crisis” – that is, a moment when the eagerness and hope of youth is gone, but the rest and fruits that come from work are not yet here, and I want a different life than what I have right now.
That season where you just want to bolt, you just want to flee – that’s acedia.
It’s like procrastination, which Fr. Schmitz reminds us is when I want to do everything but THE ONE THING I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.
The question I need to ask myself, he says, is this: What is it I’m supposed to be doing? Time to pump the brakes and ask yourself, Am I doing all this extra activity in lieu of the one thing I should be doing?
The remedy for acedia is God’s love – the Incarnation. The remedy, Fr. Schmitz says, is looking at Jesus Christ, “who in every step of his life is saying yes to his Father, yes to this moment, yes to dinner with his friends, yes to dinner with sinners, yes to traveling from this place to that place, yes to this trial – yes to the Father’s will, even though he prayed that the cup would pass by him.”
What held Jesus to his cross was his love. What’s helping you stay in place? Ask: How can I love well in this moment, in this place, as Christ would? In the end, Fr. Schmitz says, fight acedia with love.
I’ll be spending the next few days trying to figure out how that happens for me.