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The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  209 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
The noonday devil is the demon of acedia, the vice also known as sloth. The word "sloth," however, can be misleading, for acedia is not laziness; in fact it can manifest as busyness or activism. Rather, acedia is a gloomy combination of weariness, sadness, and a lack of purposefulness. It robs a person of his capacity for joy and leaves him feeling empty, or void of meanin ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Ignatius Press (first published February 24th 2015)
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May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I had difficulty rating this religious work by a modern Catholic monastic leader about the phenomenon of acedia, the "despair of salvation," mainly because I had strongly different reactions to different portions of the book.

I liked the first two chapters that focused on the work of two desert fathers, Evagrius and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Nault supplied some wonderfully concrete and apt examples from everyday life to help unravel some of the older terminology and theological/philosophical concepts
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This theological presentation of the ancient monastic sin of acedia began as a doctoral dissertation. It assumes a significant amount of familiarity with theological terms. When it addresses the contemporary manifestation of acedia, its primary audience is monastic. Implications for the lay reader are not well developed.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I received the book The Noonday Devil, I wondered what kind of fiction title this would be. This would be a case of judging a book by its cover, as it is in fact a non-fiction title that deals with the subject of acedia. What is acedia? Acedia is a sin or an evil that is actually hard to define. Many people incorrectly equate it to sloth, but it is much more than that. In the days of Cicero, it was defined as a "lack of care," because people who suffered from this evil did not bury their de ...more
Gil Gilliam
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Of all the books I've read about acedia (despite its obscurity there are a few) this one is the best to date. The author starts with the original definition by Evagrius the Desert Father and takes it through the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas on the subject. He then spends some time tracing the disappearance of the term from popular and church vocabularies. Finally, he looks at the implications of acedia for cloistered religious, priests, and married couples. A great resource on the symptoms and ...more
I won't rate this because I won't finish it, but the concept was very helpful for me personally and (I hope) life-changing. I decided not to finish because I'm not interested in the various takes of theologians.

Acedia is a kind of spiritual depression that can manifest itself either as laziness, a craving for entertainment, or, more insidiously, as pointless business. Just grasping the concept and learning how to spot it in my own life accomplished my goal. Now, on to the other dozens of books I
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Acedia is central to the modern condition. I don't think this book explored it enough as a source of disenchantment for the modern condition. It explored it fully as a problem within religious context, but it could be expanded beyond that. This book was an excellent start to understanding the nature of acedia. Perhaps others might explore how acedia is there in our secular lives and how it springs up in modern literature, probably unbeknownst to the authors themselves.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I finished reading this non-fiction Catholic book today, which explores Acedia, which, although it became subsumed in the deadly sin of Sloth, is not laziness. And I enjoyed reading this book, and recommend it to those weary of their lives.

The author of this book (which began life as a thesis) has been the Abbot of a monastery in France since 2009. After a Foreward by Bishop Marc Cardinal Ouellet, our author notes in an Introduction that Acedia is rarely spoken of today, which is odd, as it stil
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Really great book about the history of and effects of acedia--often thought of as despondency, melancholy, etc. The understanding has changed over the centuries but it is worth ferreting out. Acedia can manifest in so many different ways! The author gives a thorough history, including a big slog through Thomas Aquinas's philosophy, but stick with it, because it's worth it! (i.e. don't let acedia prevent you from finishing this book! One of the 'cures' for acedia is perseverance!) He provides dis ...more
Kirsten Kinnell
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
The beginning is enlightening, but the second half is theoretical just when the reader wishes for practical guidance.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely going on my READ AGAIN list. Once is not enough. It's just what I needed to read this Lent, and I'm sure I'll need it again.

HIGHLY recommended for anyone seeking Christ in earnest.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book more highly. For anyone who is finding it difficult to grow in the prayer/spiritual life; or for anyone who desires to grow into the whole person. A Brilliant book!
James Andersen
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is very insightful, written by a Monk, yet penetrating the lives of all who call themselves Christian. This book makes a very powerful case that the primary evil of our day is Acedia, a sense of hopelessness and type of nihilism in which we spurn the Supreme Good and compensate with lesser goods. The author does a good job at expanding the understanding of Acedia or what is popularly called 'Sloth' from mere laziness to something more lethal, and hence why it is called a Deadly Sin, ro ...more
Melanie Rigney
Acedia is such a slippery concept these days: Depression? Midlife crisis? Burnout? Frankly, the cover (a Degas painting of an absinthe drinker) is what sold me on the book when I saw it at a monastery gift shop. The clear language kept me reading and diving into this challenge. As the author puts it: "Acedia is the temptation to withdraw from the narrowness of the present so as to take refuge in what is imaginary; it is the temptation to quit the battle so as to become a simple spectator of the ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Had a friend talk about this book while having a conversation about sloth. Funny how close this is to the idea’s and principles of the war of art. A bit more insight as to why this is such a fight. More so than just “Resistance”. Some really good tidbits: “how you feel today has nothing to do with the vows you made yesterday”. Would have highlighted the crap out of it if it was mine. The bits on acedia in the life of monks was neat but not that useful or applicable to me. Liked the end on being ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated the first chapter and the second half of the second chapter, providing an overview of the history of spiritual writings against acedia. It was enlightening.

The third and fourth chapters about how this evil applies to our lives in the 21st century were useful. Specific examples are given for each state of life (vocation).
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to understanding the misunderstood capital sin, acedia which has been transformed into mere "laziness". Nault shows this is only one common manifestation of the vice rather than the vice itself. He argues the key to overcoming acedia is to cultivate spiritual joy in order to overcome the spiritual sadness at the divine good that acedia consists in.
Monica Zeringue
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An extremely thoughtful work on a subject not well-spoken of today. It was a refreshing and resourceful read; very helpful in examining one's thoughts and direction, regardless of one's state in life.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic
Ever wonder why faith and prayer can be so terribly difficult? It may be acedia. I knew nothing about it until I read this book. I'm really glad that I gave this a read.

Got it for free from the FOCUS app.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic meditation on an unacknowledged ailment that plagued our world, society, Church, and selves.
Mike Glaser
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It took me some time to get through this book but it was well worth it. This is the kind of book that is well worth reading again every year or so.
Mar 21, 2015 is currently reading it
Want to read. Saw advertisement from Ignatius Press:

Transform your spiritual life with this new title.
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The Noonday Devil:
Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times.
Too often dismissed simply as burn-out or a midlife crisis…learn the symptoms and effects of this terrible affliction.
Most important, learn the remedies for it!

The Noonday Devil
Dom Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B
Foreword by Marc Cardinal Ouellet
Softcover, 208 pages, $16.95

The noonday devil is the demon of acedia,
Leonard Jr
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As 2016 draws to a close, I'll highlight this as my favorite book of the year. In this modern masterpiece of spirituality, the Benedictine Monk Jean-Charles Nault explains ACEDIA, one of the seven deadly sins, better known as SLOTH. Drawing from writings of the desert monk Evagrius of Pontus and the medieval scholar St. Thomas Aquinas, he offers an in-depth explanation of one of the most overlooked spiritual maladies.

We tend to think of sloth as inactivity, but the more traditional Christian und
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ascetic-theology
The Noonday Devil is an excellent study of the topic of Acedia. Along with Kathleen Norris's Acedia and Me, it addresses a long-forgotten but deeply relevant topic for the 21st century. The book is well-organized, which makes it easy to follow and return to for review and note-taking. I appreciate also Nault's treatment of the history of the topic, and how the concept of Acedia shifted through the years, suffering an almost complete loss of the term and its true meaning. In terms of spiritual si ...more
Michael W.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Intriguing read on the subject, written primarily from within monasticism, and for monastics. It includes an interesting historical trek through Benedict, Evagrius, John Cassian, Gregory the Great and Aquinas; and stops at the dead-end concocted by William of Ockham.

Acedia, that "Noonday Devil" is a broad vice that shows itself in loss of heart and motivation, discouragement, despair, perpetual need for activity and change, and so forth. It affects people in the middle of the day and the middle
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for anyone truly desiring insight into becoming closer to God and a true follower of Christ and a servant to the Church. Explores the cause of many ills of today's world: acedia, a word many have not heard. We have all heard the words lazy, sloth, and it is related to those concepts. It is especially prevalent in our present day, though, and in all walks of life and stations of life.
This book articulates this so well that anyone with enough understanding to do any kind of advanced
I liked the beginning of the book and some of the observations about how acedia may/can/will manifest itself in our lives, but the further I read, the less I liked it. I certainly did not care for Part 4 at all when it came to the authors observations about acedia in married couples and for single persons. As a single, never married, no children, person I found that part demeaning, insulting and judgmental. Pretty much turned me off for the rest of the book...

I could appreciate the author trying

This book is the study of acedia, a word that has largely disappeared from our modern vocabulary. It has been described as sadness, gloominess, disgust, and generally being "down". But the term is much more than that. Early monastic fathers spoke often of acedia as a spiritual sadness, a disgust with things of God, or despair of attaining salvation. This despair would cause monks to leave their order and lay people to lose their faith.

Is acedia, also called the "noon day devil", the cause of ev
Apr 03, 2016 rated it liked it

I came across some brilliant sections that spoke to me directly and clearly. One of my favorites is an original way of looking at God’s first commandment in Eden:

“’If you eat the fruit of that tree, you shall die’. (Gen 2:17) This is not about a jealous God who fears that man might become his equal. On the contrary, it is about an excellent father who says: ‘My child, do not eat that, or it will harm you.’ The day will come when the child understands that the prohibition was established for his
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very good book on re-introducing acedia to a larger audience.

To me the only caveat is, that while this material has been re-written for a larger audience, the main focus remains on the monastic life. For the segments on historical and theological background this is of little consequence. However, as the book moves on to specific manifestations within the religious, priestly, married, and single life, the latter two are relatively short segments.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-read
An important book on a very relevant problem for many people today. If you find it hard to be productive at times, you are easily distracted and you can't seem to sit still, then you may be struggling with Acedia.

This isn't a health condition but an attack from the devil and there are ways to counter the attack. I'd highly recommend this book even though it does focus more on monks and priests, it is still applicable for the average Christian.

Happy Easter, BTW!
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Chapter Four & Epilogue 14 17 May 17, 2016 04:32PM  
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Chapter Three 4 12 May 04, 2016 07:40PM  
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Chapter Two 18 13 May 03, 2016 10:28PM  
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Forward, Introduction, Chapter one 15 18 May 02, 2016 06:34AM  
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Introduction 16 21 Apr 15, 2016 11:15PM  
Catholic Thought: Noonday Devil Reading Schedule 14 21 Apr 10, 2016 01:39PM  
  • God or Nothing
  • 'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall
  • By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
  • Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer
  • The Soul of The Apostolate
  • The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul
  • Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina
  • Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life
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  • Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness
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  • The Three Ages Of The Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life
  • Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition
  • The Great Heresies
  • Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason
  • The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church
  • John Cassian: Conferences (Classics of Western Spirituality)
Dom Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B., has been the abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Wandrille (or Fontenelle Abbey) in Normandy, France, since 2009. He entered the monastery in 1988, earned a doctorate in theology from the John Paul II Pontifical Institute in Rome (Lateran University), and received from Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the first Henri de Lubac Prize for his thes ...more
More about Jean-Charles Nault

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“The flight from self is concealed beneath the flight from one’s setting and way of life. It will be better elsewhere; it used to be better back then. In short, the here and now become unbearable. Alone and confronting himself, beneath the noonday sun, the monk can no longer see or hear himself; he no longer tolerates himself. His illusory salvation lies in desertion.1 This” 1 likes
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