I would never have thought that the music of Josh Groban would lead me to St. John Cassian but yesterday it did!
There is in the spiritual life something the Fathers of the Desert refer to as accedia or accidie.
It is a type of inner weariness, deep in one’s being, often experienced as what in common parlance is referred to as being “down”.
Most people experience down days, weariness, etc.
However there must be vigilance that the normal down day does not become accidie – the spiritual condition which produces a type of sloth or wanting just to ‘get out and do something’.
There can be any number of triggers for a down day in any life: lack of sleep, stress, grief, several days without sunshine, etc. etc., and these can be the same triggers for accidie.
Of course that dark hyena, the evil one, likes to batter us when we are already down.
As St. Peter urges us: Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. [ 1 Pt. 5:8,9 ]
So yesterday was one of those days.
By late in the day the sense of being down was just too much.
So to distract myself I put a Josh Groban cd on and sat staring out the window at the jets landing at the industrial airport.
Gradually I became aware of something familiar. It was Groban’s version of an ancient song which always stirs my heart: Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring.
Well that snapped me out of my day dreaming and motivated me to search for a translation of the original text.
I prayed the text and that it turn moved me to re-read St. John Cassian who admits his own struggle with accidie and how he too fled by business and chattering away, albeit with Abba Paul.
St. John further recounts that when he sought to justify himself with Abba Moses the Abba sternly admonished him: Learn to triumph over it by endurance and conflict.
The ‘endurance and conflict’ is to be faithful to the duty of the moment, be it prayer, reading, doing the dishes, visiting the sick – or simply to put one’s face to the ground and beg Jesus for mercy.
On his blog http://catholiclovedotcom.blogspot.com/, referencing a song called Run, John Everett notes: Do we realize that He really does want to be with us?...If we experienced His yearning for us to be near with Him for but a moment, we would probably die!
Reminds me of the plea of St. Philip Neri when he experienced divine fire!
The key always is to go to Jesus and thus to know we are beloved of God.
Jesus, joy of our desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright,
Drawn by You, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light!
[ for the full text see: www.hymnsite.com ]