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(c. 360 - 435)

Our combat is with what the Greeks call akhdi'a, which we may term weariness or distress of heart.  This is akin to dejection, and is especially trying to solitaires, and a dangerous and frequent foe to dwellers in the desert; and especially disturbing to a monk about the sixth hour, some of the elders who declare that this is the "noonday devil" spoken of in Psalm 91. 

When it takes possession of some unhappy soul, it produces dislike of the place, disgust with the cell, and disdain and contempt of the brethren who dwell with him or at a little distance, as if they were lax or unspiritual.  It also makes the man lazy and sluggish about all manner of work within the enclosure.  It does not allow him to stay in his cell, or to take any pains about reading, and he often groans because he can do no good while he stays there, and complains and sighs because he can bear no spiritual fruit so long as he is in that company; and he claims that…  he could be useful to a great many people elsewhere… by his teaching and direction.   He praises distant monasteries, describing them as better suited for salvation, and claiming that his interactions with the brethren there are sweet and full of spirituality.  On the other hand, he says that everything around him is rough, that there is nothing edifying among the brethren there, and that even food cannot be had without great difficulty…. Then the fifth or sixth hour brings him such bodily weariness and longing for food that he seems to himself worn out and wearied as if with a long journey, or some very heavy work, or as if he had taken no food for two or three days.  He looks about anxiously this way and that, and sighs that none of the brethren come to see him; he often goes in and out of his cell, and frequently gazes up at the sun, as if it was too slow in setting.  Like some foul darkness, confusion of mind takes hold of him and… he imagines that no cure can be found in anything except visiting one of the brethren, or in the solace of sleep alone.  It is all admirably expressed by David in a single verse, where he says, "My soul slept from weariness," that is, from accidie….

When I was beginning my stay in the desert, and had said to Abbot Moses that I had been terribly troubled yesterday by an attack of accidie, and that I was only freed from it by running at once to Abbot Paul, he said, "You have not freed yourself from it, but rather have given yourself up to it as its slave and subject.  For the enemy will henceforth attack you more strongly as a deserter and runaway, since it has seen that you fled at once when attacked.”  Thus it is proved by experience that a fit of accidie is not overcome by running away from it, but by resistance. 



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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.