The same distractions that are omnipresent in today’s world also make us tend to absolutize our free time, so that we can give ourselves over completely to the devices that provide us with entertainment or ephemeral pleasures. As a result, we come to resent our mission, our commitment grows slack, and our generous and ready spirit of service begins to flag. This denatures our spiritual experience. Can any spiritual fervor be sound when it dwells alongside sloth in evangelization or in service to others? — Pope Francis
The Catholic spiritual tradition is quite unanimous in affirming that one of the most effective deceptions of the Enemy is to distract our attention from the immediate demands of our personal vocation. Frequently, cloaked as an Angel of Light, he tempts the good with good things, and the evil with evil.
Whether it’s saying yes without proper deliberation to every opportunity or whim that presents itself; or evading the drudgery of daily duty by rationalizing pleasurable distractions; or ignoring your responsibility to the people in your immediate sphere of influence who need you most; or being lazy; or getting caught up in the hysteria of various world-saving crusades that make you feel important and help you ignore your real problems; or remaining perpetually indecisive while canonizing it as “being open to God’s will” — our common Enemy rejoices whenever we fail to do the few things we are actually called by God to do. He fears nothing, save God’s will.
In fact, the vice of sloth, so often equated with laziness, is more insidiously a distaste for the practice of the harder virtues required by the real responsibilities that attend our calling, e.g. humility, charity, generosity, patient endurance, perseverance or courage. Moral greatness, the enemy of sloth, largely consists of countless ordinary acts of fidelity each day, mostly known to God alone. While God calls us to a unified simplicity of life, the Enemy seduces us to a fragmented complexity of life that lacks any unifying vocational narrative.
And how often, in my experience, do I see that the fruits of these diversions from reality include things like anxiety, an inability to focus, depression, agitation, anger, constant arguments, frustration, impatience, hubris, division. And who suffers most from these toxic fruits? The most vulnerable, e.g. children who have become orphans in their own homes, spouses who have become widows or widowers in their marriage, the elderly abandoned by their distracted (grand)children to a life of terminal loneliness and isolation.
In the final analysis, the world will be transformed, consecrated, sanctified by only one thing: dedication to what we have in fact been called to do by God in the present moment, in the world in front of our face. And the fruits of that simple fidelity are clear: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.