What is your passion? What are you willing to sacrifice and die for?

Ever heard of acedia?

No doubt you have experienced acedia, which at least means being passionless.

Passion has historical meant suffering. Our passion is what we are willing to sacrifice for, even die for as a cause. It takes great courage and generosity of soul to be full of true passion. And we tend towards acedia in our proud and greedy sinful nature.

But there is hope!

Tim Keller explains how real passion and acedia are related:

[HT: Chris Nye]

Sloth: not just a slow animal.

The end of Dorothy Sayers quote, which Keller gives, describes acedia (or sloth) as “a sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

If you are curious, Wikipedia is helpful on the etymology of the Seven Deadly Sins:

The modern concept of the Seven Deadly Sins is linked to the works of the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed eight evil thoughts in Greek as follows:

  • Γαστριμαργία (gastrimargia) gluttony.
  • Πορνεία (porneia) prostitution, fornication.
  • Φιλαργυρία (philargyria) avarice.
  • Ὑπερηφανία (hyperēphania) hubris – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as self-esteem.
  • Λύπη (lypē) sadness – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as envy, sadness at another’s good fortune.
  • Ὀργή (orgē) wrath.
  • Κενοδοξία (kenodoxia) boasting.
  • Ἀκηδία (akēdia) acedia – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as dejection.

They were translated into the Latin of Western Christianity (largely due to the writings of John Cassian), thus becoming part of the Western tradition’s spiritual pietas (or Catholic devotions), as follows:

  • Gula (gluttony)
  • Fornicatio (fornicationlust)
  • Avaritia (avarice/greed)
  • Superbia (hubris, pride)
  • Tristitia (sorrow/despair)
  • Ira (wrath)
  • Vanagloria (vainglory)
  • Acedia (acedia)

These “evil thoughts” can be collected into three groups:

  • lustful appetite (Gluttony, Fornication, and Avarice)
  • irascibility (Wrath)
  • intellect (Vainglory, Sorrow, Pride, and Discouragement)

In AD 590, a little over two centuries after Evagrius wrote his list, Pope Gregory I revised this list to form the more common Seven Deadly Sins, by folding sorrow/despair into acedia,vainglory into pride, and adding envy. In the order used by both Pope Gregory and by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows:

  1. luxuria (lechery/lust)
  2. gula (gluttony)
  3. avaritia (avarice/greed)
  4. acedia (acedia/discouragement/sloth)
  5. ira (wrath)
  6. invidia (envy)
  7. superbia (pride)

What is your passion? Are you apathetic? Do you suffer from acedia?

“If I only had an enemy bigger than my apathy,
I could have won.”
—Mumford & Sons, “I Gave You All”

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