The Noonday Devil - Homiletic & Pastoral Review
On a hot and sweltering July 6 th in a small farming town in the fetid area outside of Rome, one hundred and four years ago today, a young maiden of not-yet twelve years old was viciously stabbed fourteen times with an awl by an eigtheen-year old Alessandro Serenelli, enraged by frustrated lust, because she refused to submit to his sexual advances. It is connected with sloth or acedia, a spiritual sadness that seeks solace in sensual pleasure, against which the early Fathers of the Church warned.
Our world has accepted lust as normal, and does not even use the term. Alessandro Serenelli was addicted to pornography, in the form it existed in early 20 th century Italy, with photographs and drawings and his own interior imaginings. Alessandro was thus in close propinquity with the beautiful and virtuous young girl, developing quickly into an attractive woman. His deviant lifestyle is raconteured in rock songs and films, as something both alluring and humorous.
But pornograpy, along with the lust it breeds and fosters, is always deleterious and harmful, a plague upon the soul and upon society. The tenacious illusion of always being better off elsewhere does not abandon the individual.
Anything seems preferable to self-awareness and diffuse pain. So the sense of instability commonly felt today is a typical manifestation of acedia. But whence acedia, this spiritual apathy? The self-indulgent deception that there never was and never will be friendship with God, that there never was and never will be a transcendent calling and dignity of the human person. How, then, can we overcome the sickness of acedia?
Nault, again invoking Aquinas, tells us that the very fact of the Incarnation dispels the monstrous fiction that communion with God is impossible:. In describing the Incarnation as the definitive remedy for acedia, Saint Thomas asserts that from now on the distance between human nature and divine nature is overcome by the Son of God himself. Fully God and fully man, Christ restores to us the hope of being able to participate fully in the divine life; he reopens for us the path to beatitude. The Incarnation is therefore the definitive remedy for acedia: it truly restores to us the joy of being saved.
Hence those burdened by the vice busy themselves in all sorts of activities and distractions. Nault's reflections are most welcome in a world that sees so much darkness at noon-time and wonders why.
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