Sloth is a reluctance to attend to duty, and, according to Cassian, it is especially a weariness or distaste for spiritual things. The peril to which this vice exposes us is clearly set forth in these words of Our Savior: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire.” (Matt. 7:19). Against its evil effects He again warned His disciples when, exhorting them to diligence, the opposite of sloth, He told them to watch and pray, for they knew not when the Lord of the house would come. (Cf. Mk. 13:35).
Therefore, if this shameful vice attack you, banish it by the thoughts we are about to suggest.
First call to mind the extraordinary labors which Our Lord endured for you; the many sleepless nights He spent in prayer for you; His weary journeys from city to city, healing the sick, comforting the sorrowful, and raising the dead. How ardently, how unceasingly He devoted Himself to the work of our redemption! Consider particularly how, at the time of His Passion, He bore upon His bruised and bleeding shoulders the heavy weight of His cross for love of you.
If the God of majesty labored thus to deliver you, will you refuse to cooperate in your own salvation? When this tender Lamb endured such rude labors to free you from your sins, will you endure nothing to expiate them? Remember, too, the weary labors of the Apostles, who preached the Gospel to the whole world.
Think of the sufferings endured by the martyrs, confessors, virgins, anchorites, and by all who are now reigning with Christ. It was by their teaching and their toil that the Faith of Christ spread through the known world and that the Church has been perpetuated to the present day.
Turn your eyes towards nature, and you will find nothing idle. The heavens, by their perpetual motion, unceasingly proclaim the glory of their Creator. The sun, moon, and stars, with all the brilliant planets with almost infinite space, daily follow their courses for the benefit of man.
The growth of planets and trees is continual until they have attained their appointed strength and proportions. Behold the untiring energy with which the ant labors for its winter’s food; with which the bees toil in building their hives and storing them with honey. These industrious little creatures will not allow an idler to exist among them; the drones are all killed. Throughout nature you find the same lesson.
Will not man, therefore, blush for a vice which the instinct of irrational creatures teaches them to avoid? To what labor do not men condemn themselves for the acquisition of perishable riches, the preservation of which, when they are obtained, is an ever-increasing source of care and anxiety! You are striving for the kingdom of Heaven. Will you show less energy, will you be less diligent, in toiling for spiritual treasures, which can never be taken from you?
If you will not profit by time and strength to labor now, a day will come when you will vainly seek these present opportunities. Sad experience tells us how many have thus been disappointed. Life is short, and obstacles to good abound. Do not, therefore, let the promptings of sloth cause you to lose advantages which will never return, for “the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4).