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 meaning
Abbot Nault says that acedia is the most oppressive of demons. Although its name harkens back to antiquity and the Middle Ages, and seems to have been largely forgotten, acedia is experienced by countless modern people who describe their condition as depression, melancholy, burn-out, or even mid-life crisis.
He begins his study of acedia by tracing the wisdom of the Church on the subject from the Desert Fathers to Saint Thomas Aquinas. He shows how acedia afflicts persons in all states of life— priests, religious, and married or single laymen. He details not only the symptoms and effects of acedia, but also remedies for it.
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 thesis on acedia, La Saveu de Dieu.
Praise for The Noonday Devil:
"The simple, direct style of this work makes the reader feel involved and challenged to consider anew what is essential in his existence."
– Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (Rome)
"A must read for anyone who takes the spiritual life seriously. Christ's passion and death on the cross is the most perfect answer to the terrible evil that tells man his very existence is meaningless."
– Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., Author, The Ear of the Heart
"With clarity and penetrating insight, Abbot Nault unmasks the pernicious demon of acedia, showing how it tempts souls in every state of life and why it may well be the zeitgeist of our time. A most helpful and encouraging book on a long-overdue topic."
– Johnnette Benkovic, EWTN host; Founder, Women of Grace®
"A revelation, a modern-day treatise on an ancient and yet familiar foe. This book can transform the spiritual life of those willing to dive in and go deeper."
– Vinny Flynn, Author, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist
"Dom Nault's book shows how acedia is the unwillingness to ask the questions about the meaning of our lives. Hence those burdened by the vice busy themselves in all sorts of activities and distractions. Nault's reflections are most welcome in a world that sees so much darkness at noon-time and wonders why."
– James V. Schall, S. J., Author, Reasonable Pleasures