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Pope preaches against 'spiritual sloth,' shutting out God's grace

Catholic World News - April 01, 2014

Pope Francis spoke about spiritual sloth and “anesthetized” Christians in his homily at Mass on April 1.

Commenting on the day’s Gospel, which described the Pharisees’ angry reaction when Jesus cured a blind man on the Sabbath, the Pope said that the story reminded him of Catholics who are “without enthusiasm, even embittered,” and do not want to be challenged by the faith.

“This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians,” the Pope said. Christians who lack any apostolic zeal cannot serve the Church well, he said. The Pope went on to urge the faithful to guard against “formalism,” which does not leave room for God’s actions. The Pharisees, who opposed healing on the Sabbath, were formalists, he said, and there are others in the Catholic Church. “They close the door to the grace of God,” he said.

In contrast, the Holy Father observed, Jesus asks the blind man if he wants to be healed, and, receiving an affirmative answer, He heals him. Later, meeting the man again, Jesus cautions him to “Sin no more.” This is the model for Christians, the Pope said: to help first, and then to warn against sin.

“The two Christian words: do you want to be healed? Sin no more. First He heals [the paralytic], then [He says], ‘sin no more.’ – words spoken with tenderness, with love – and this is the Christian way, the way of apostolic zeal: to get close to many people who are injured and in this field hospital, often people whose wounds were inflicted by men and women of the Church. It is a word of a brother and of a sister: do you want to be healed? Then, when He goes on, ‘Ah, do not sin any more, it is not good for you.’ Much better: Jesus’ two words are more beautiful than the attitude of sloth or the attitude of hypocrisy.”

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Apr. 02, 2014 10:12 AM ET USA

    The Holy Father's point is of course, true. But I can't help thinking about how I came into the Church in 2005. First I became aware that I my life wasn't going in the right direction (blind, lame) then I desired to be healed. So an awareness of needing healing and of the source of the disease (sin) preceded the healing and the desire to "sin no more".

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Apr. 01, 2014 6:59 PM ET USA

    I am always caught here on both parts of this admonition: first, one asks, Do you want to be healed? After a positive answer to that question we "heal", and say, sin no more. Trouble is, many today respond to the first query with a negative. Then what?

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Apr. 01, 2014 5:04 PM ET USA

    Interesting timing. On Sunday our pastor's sermon addressed the vice of sloth. As I recall, he explained in great detail how acedia is one of three species of sloth and how Catholics can fall victim to this bad habit.

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