Monday, April 15, 2024

On Sloth


To My Readers: This post is from Mr. John Gregory, a fine writer and a long-time Traditionalist. John used to write for the Daily Catholic, when it was run by the late, great Mr. Michael Cain. John has generously volunteered to be a guest poster once every two months. Hence, he will write a post April, June, August, October, and December of this year. I am fortunate to have John join my monthly guest poster, Mr. Dominic Caggeso, who's next post will come out later in April. Please comment and let John know what you think of his writing. If you have any questions/comments specifically for me, I will answer as always, but it will take me longer to get back to you this week.

God bless you all, my dear readers---Introibo

By John Gregory

This child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel (Luke 2: 34) That God became man is a doctrine of our faith and those who reject or doubt this doctrine are in the category of those who will fall into Hell.  But just accepting the truth is not enough.  A few verses later we read--Who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day (Luke 2: 37).  This is a warning against the vice of sloth which can also lead to Hell and an encouragement to be zealous for the faith and the conversion of others as I hope to prove in this post.

According to Aquinas sloth, in addition to being sorrow over a Divine good e.g. the duty to go to Mass on Sunday, is a sin when sorrow over evil is so oppressive that it draws a man entirely away from good deeds. (See SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Sloth (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 35) ( Consider how evil abortion is and how rampant it is.  If one were so overwhelmed with grief over the issue that one gave up religion entirely because he can’t deal with that reality, he obviously would be guilty of a mortal sin and lose his soul.  But also consider one who frequently, despite his good intentions and best efforts, keeps committing the same sin again, finally gives up even trying to overcome it.  If it was a mortal sin he was trying to overcome the sin of sloth here would also be mortal.  But obviously we never want to give up our fight against committing deliberate venial sins as well.  If we give up our fight against venial sin, in addition to adding to our future punishments we would be increasing our likelihood of eventually falling into mortal sin.  When we become lax and unconcerned about venial sins, oftentimes mortal sin is not too far behind. 

Sloth is the seeking of undue rest from Divine good such a prayer; needlessly putting it off.  This can result in praying with negligence, hurriedly and without devotion which is also a result of sloth.  This can be true with going to Confession or a convert putting off Baptism.  All fallen men can be tempted to sin, “ah, I don’t feel like going to Mass today” then immediately put it out of their mind and jump out of bed to get ready for Mass.  The danger is consenting to that thought when it enters the mind.  The more you consider how nice it would be to skip Mass this week, the more likely it will be that you will entertain excuses why it could be legitimate to skip Mass this one time and actually miss it.  It can be likened to the danger of passing by the tree with forbidden fruit without thinking about it in comparison to stopping and taking a look at the fruit, just to see of course.  We saw where that got Eve and the rest of the human race.

Let us consider the Humility and Poverty of Christ. What can be more useful, what better calculated to subdue the pride and haughtiness of the human heart, than to reflect frequently that God humbles Himself in such a manner as to assume our frailty and weakness, in order to communicate to us His glory; that God becomes man, and that He at whose nod, to use the words of Scripture, the pillars of heaven tremble and are affrighted, (Job 26: 2) bows His supreme and infinite majesty to minister to man; that He whom the Angels adore in heaven is born on earth!  When such is the goodness of God towards us, what, I ask, should we not do to testify our obedience to His will?  With what willingness and alacrity (prompt, willing cheerfulness) should we not love, embrace, and perform all the duties of humility?

Let us now consider the antidote to sloth which is zeal. Our zeal in communicating Christian knowledge should not be relaxed because it has sometimes to be exercised in expounding matters apparently humble and unimportant, and whose exposition is usually irksome, especially to minds accustomed to the contemplation of the more sublime truths of religion.  If the Wisdom of the eternal Father descended upon the earth in the meanness of our flesh to teach us the maxims of a heavenly life, who is there whom the love of Christ does not constrain (2 Cor 5: 14) to become little in the midst of his brethren, and, as a nurse fostering her children, so anxiously to wish for the salvation of his neighbors as to be ready, as the Apostle says of himself, to give them not only the gospel of God, but even his own life. (1 Tim 4: 13).

We should be so warmly interested in promoting the worship and honor of God as to be said rather to be jealous of Him than to love Him, in imitation of Him who says of Himself: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts, (3 Kings 19: 14) or rather of Christ Himself, who says: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. (Ps 68: 10; John 2: 17)

Never shirk your duty to witness to the truth to anyone who asks about our faith or who has a question pertaining to religion.  We are strictly obliged to do so.  When it comes to sharing with people who do not ask, we need to have prudence.  For it is much easier, especially for those without much knowledge themselves, to do more harm than good when trying to convert souls.  This is why we should frequently study the faith and live it so that we will better be able to help others should the opportunity arise.  

It is better to help the people answer their own questions than to hammer them with the truth.  Telling someone over and over again that they will go to Hell if they do not convert has less of chance, generally speaking, of converting one that asking them if they believe Jesus founded one religion or many which contradict each other.  You just need to get them to think and search themselves, the answers are to be found by those of good will, willing to change their lives completely when convinced they must do so in order to be saved.

And as the observance of the precept is very strongly assisted by these words: Six days shalt thou labour, but on the seventh day is the sabbath of God, From these words it can be gathered that the faithful are to be exhorted not to spend their lives in indolence and sloth, but that each one, mindful of the words of the Apostle, should do his own business, and work with his own hands, as he had commanded them. (1 Thess 4: 2).

It is important to understand regarding this necessary duty, that whoever is unable to give may at least lend to the poor what they need to sustain life, according to the command of Christ our Lord: Lend, hoping for nothing thereby. (Luke 6: 35) The happiness of doing this is thus expressed by holy David: Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth. (Ps. 111: 5).

But if we are not able to give to those who must depend on the charity of others for their sustenance, it is an act of Christian piety, as well as a means of avoiding idleness, to procure by our labor and industry what is necessary for the relief of the poor.  To this the Apostle exhorts all by his own example. For yourselves, he says to the Thessalonians, know how you ought to imitate us; (2 Thess 3: 7) and again, writing to the same people: Use your endeavour to be quiet, and that you do your own business, and work with your own hands, as we commanded you; (1 Thess 4: 2) and to the Ephesians: He that stole, let him steal no more; but rather let him labour working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that sufferteh need. (Eph 4: 28).

If you are unable to give money, then give some of your time.  Pray devotedly for their temporal and spiritual needs.  Give them a green scapular.  

Let us imitate the fervor of the Saints in prayer; and to petition let us unite thanksgiving, imitating the example of the Apostles, who, as may be seen in the Epistles of Saint Paul, always observed this salutary practice.

To prayer let us unite fasting and almsdeeds.  Fasting is most intimately connected with prayer.  For the mind of one who is filled with food and drink is so borne down as not to be able to raise itself to the contemplation of God, or even to understand what prayer means.

Alms-deeds have also an intimate connection with prayer.  For what claim has he to the virtue of charity, who, possessing the means of affording relief to those who depend on the assistance of others, refuses help to his neighbor and brother?  How can he, whose heart is devoid of charity, demand assistance from God, unless, while imploring the pardon of his sins, he at the same time humbly beg of God to grant him the virtue of charity?

This triple remedy was, therefore, appointed by God to aid man in the attainment of salvation.  For by sin we offend God, wrong our neighbor, or injure ourselves.  The wrath of God we appease by pious prayer; our offences against man we redeem by alms-deeds; the stains of our own lives we wash away by fasting.  Each of these remedies, it is true, is applicable to every sort of sin; they are, however, peculiarly adapted to those three which we have specially mentioned.

We should also be careful to consider what is to be done, what avoided, in order to arrive at the kingdom of heaven.  For we are not called by God to lead lives of ease and indolence. On the contrary, He declares that the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away; (Matt 11: 12) and, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matt 19: 17) It is not enough, therefore, that we pray for the kingdom of God; we must also use our best exertions.  It is a duty incumbent on us to cooperate with the grace of God to use it in pursuing the path that leads to heaven.  God never abandons us; He has promised to be with us at all times.  We have therefore only this to see to, that we forsake not God, or abandon ourselves.

Again we see that just believing or accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour is not enough.  First of all, protestants accept an imaginary Jesus that did not found His Church on the rock or Saint Peter, taught the necessity of baptism for salvation to be possible and that believers can be damned for neglecting good works.  But this holds true for Catholics as well.  The violent bearing the kingdom of heaven away means that we must be hard-headed in a certain sense.  

That is, we must use violent effort by mortification and penance, and resisting our perverse inclinations.  There is no point during our lives that we have it made in the shade.  Where we can rest on our laurels and just coast into heaven.  Take a man floating on a raft in the ocean needing to get to shore.  If he just lays on the raft he will drift away and ultimately die.  Resist the temptation to the pride that says you have made it lest you drift away from sanctifying grace and ultimately die the eternal death.

Again, we see that just believing or accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior is not enough.  First of all, Protestants accept an imaginary Jesus that did not found His Church on the rock or Saint Peter, taught the necessity of baptism for salvation to be possible and that believers can be damned for neglecting good works.  But this holds true for Catholics as well.  

The violent bearing the kingdom of heaven away means that we must be hard-headed in a certain sense.  That is, we must use violent effort by mortification and penance, and resisting our perverse inclinations.  There is no point during our lives that we have it made in the shade. Where we can rest on our laurels and just coast into Heaven. Take a man floating on a raft in the ocean needing to get to shore.  If he just lays on the raft he will drift away and ultimately die.  Resist the temptation to the pride that says you have made it lest you drift away from sanctifying grace and ultimately die the eternal death.

Adam’s posterity are not only deprived of the fruit of the tree of life, but also condemned to this dreadful sentence: Cursed is the earth in thy work; with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life: thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth.  In the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread, til thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Gen 3: 17-19).

Our condition, therefor, is entirely different from what his and that of his posterity would have been, had Adam listened to the voice of God. All things have been thrown into disorder and have changed sadly for the worse.  Of the resultant evils, this is not the least, that the heaviest cost, and labor, and toil, are frequently expended in vain; either because the crops are unproductive, or because the fruits of the earth are smothered by noxious weeds that spring up about them, or perish when stricken and prostrated by heavy rains, storms, hail, blight or blast.  Thus is the entire labor of the year quickly reduced to nothing by some calamity of air or soil, inflicted in punishment of our crimes, which provoke the wrath of God and prevent Him from blessing our efforts. The dreadful sentence pronounced against us in the beginning remains. (Gen 3: 17).

We must understand therefore, that we fall into these perplexities and miseries through our own fault; while we must sweat and toil to procure the necessaries of life, unless God bless our labors, our hope must prove fallacious, and all our exertions unavailing.  For neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase; (1 Cor 3: 7) unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Ps 126: 1).

As it is in the physical realm, so it is in the spiritual realm.  We must work out our salvation in fear and trembling, not presume upon it.  All our good works will avail us not, if we die in the state of mortal sin.  We can work hard towards our salvation for our entire lives and lose it at the moment of death.  All seems well when things go right, and we are in the state of sanctifying grace but when something unexpected happens many of us easily fall and become a child of the devil and destined for eternal damnation once again.  That is why Jesus is recorded as saying twice that he who perseveres until the end will be saved.  Not he who accepted him in an emotional ceremony is already saved.  Not he who mechanically goes to confession once a month without truly amending his life will be saved. 

Keep in mind that the Almighty God, perfectly happy and fulfilled in Himself to the utmost degree did not become a zygote in the womb of His Immaculate Mother, confining Himself to this bag of bones of ours for 33 years, to be mocked, rejected, spat upon, scourged almost to death, crowned with thorns and crucified just so we could have a free ride to Heaven if only we just believe.  We must fight against sloth with the virtue of zeal, being proud of our faith and willing to defend it at any time.  We must shrug off our sluggishness in doing our spiritual duties and fulfilling our state in life by praying for help when we are feeling lazy.  

Let us appease the wrath of God against our sins that offend Him and can led to Hell with pious prayer, frequent Confession and worthy reception of the Eucharist.  Let us redeem our sins against our neighbor with alms-deeds, whether by money or work and always by praying for their salvation.  Let us wash off those yucky stains from venial sin which will prolong our Purgatory by fasting.  And then let us praise God for all eternity in the company of His Most Holy Mother and all the Angels and Saints! N.B. The Catechism of Trent was used and quoted from extensively in support of this post.---John Gregory


  1. Welcome John Gregory . Great writing and I look forward to more in the near future .

    God bless

  2. Thank you for saying that. Please look for it to get reposted with changes tomorrow. It is funny, when I write something I think it is good and then when I read it online I wonder how I can be so stupid. God bless!

  3. Thank you for this article, John Gregory. I’m familiar with some of your articles via Daily Catholic.

    Your post offers an important reminder to pray for perseverance until my last breath. It’s sometimes difficult to fulfill commitments to daily prayer especially in those times of aridity and trial. But, as you pointed out, coasting is not an option.

    I look forward to further posts!


  4. I the article that was edited I deleted the part about abortion and some duplicities and added:

    Let us go directly to Moral and Pastoral Theology (MaPT) by H. Davis to learn about sloth:

    Sloth, as a spiritual vice, is defined in general as an oppressive sorrow which so weighs upon a man’s mind that he wants not to exercise any virtue. This sorrow is always evil when it is exercised about spiritual good. Sloth is both a circumstance of every vice, inasmuch as it is sorrow at the spiritual good in each act of virtue, and a specific vice, because it is sorrow in the divine good, about which charity should rejoice. Sloth seeks undue rest in so far as it spurns the divine good. Sloth is essentially and always a mortal sin when it is viewed as contrary to charity towards God, that is, if it is sorrow about
    spiritual good inasmuch as it is a divine good, since man is then grieved because he has to maintain the love of God at the cost of personal effort. This would be to violate the very first commandment of the Law.

    It is, however, venial when it leads to the violation of only slight precepts, or when, in the case of serious precepts, it is not fully deliberate. Physical weariness will then often prevent sloth from being a mortal sin.

    Furthermore, sloth is a capital vice because, “As we do many things on account of pleasure, so again we do many things on account of sorrow, either that we may avoid it, or through being exasperated into doing something, under pressure thereof.

    And later:

    The sins to which sloth especially leads are:

    Hatred of all spiritual things which entail effort, and this properly is malice.

    Spite against others who try to lead us to spiritual goods.

    Despair, which is the avoidance, through inordinate sorrow, of salvation.

    Faint-heartedness in matters of difficulty which come under the counsels of perfection.

    Sluggishness about the observance of the Commandments.

    Wandering in affection and thought after the pleasure of external things opposed to the exercise of what is spiritual.

    The remedies against this vice are to consider the [l]abours [sic] of Christ for one’s salvation, the bounty of God which deserves some grateful return: to reflect how trifling are the tribulations of this life in comparison with the eternal weight of glory: that great labour for the world is hardly recompensed and soon forgotten, but labour for God is bountifully rewarded and never forgotten: that the wicked put one to shame in their diligent service of the world compared with one’s remiss service of God: that sloth is an insult to God and Christ our Lord, and that the time is short for working out one’s salvation, and even if it appear long, it is doubly and trebly long, and insufferably so, to
    the slothful.

    The virtue contrary to sloth is diligence, and in order to be the direct contrary, it must connote joy in the fulfilment of all virtues and especially of the virtue of Divine Charity. As sloth makes all things difficult in the natural order and still more so in the supernatural order, where the immediate reward of effort is unseen and must be taken on faith, so diligence makes all things easy, inasmuch as it does not allow us to count the cost injoyful service of God or neighbour. [MaPT]

  5. What I found interesting was "Spite against others who try to lead us to spiritual goods." Has anyone been persecuted insidiously or otherwise because of this by "friends" or family?

    1. John Gregory
      Many times my siblings have excluded me at family gatherings they put together because I try to show them the true faith.

    2. You're not the only one,it is a bad feeling but,a blessing in the long run.


    3. Facts are stubborn things. It would be good if they could realize the facts won't change whether they try to wish them away or not. The ramifications are eternal and their lack of excuse for ignorance won't help. Then shunning you on top of it is only making it worse for them. When they realize you could be right, instead of making things worse for themselves that should act in accordance with the reality they cannot deny and try to make a good end of it.

  6. I thought this sentence from MaPT summed things up nicely and put things into perspective:

    As sloth makes all things difficult in the natural order and still more so in the supernatural order, where the immediate reward of effort is unseen and must be taken on faith, so diligence makes all things easy, inasmuch as it does not allow us to count the cost in joyful service of God or neighbour.

  7. Hello John

    It is so good to reading your writing. I too look forward to more in the near future. Thank you brother.

    Three questions for you

    *Are you married or single?What was your experience with dating?

    *Do you have a very large personal library? About how many volumes?

    *Is the single state a higher vocation then the married state. If one has no luck with finding someone suitable, is this a sign from God they are to stay single ?

    God bless you

    1. I'm married. My experience dating was "interesting". By interesting I mean really sucked. By "really sucked" I mean stunk, stunk to high heaven. The females act interested until you reciprocate and then lose interest. It can drive a rational man mad. It all changed miraculously when I resigned myself to God's will.

      I have a few books laying around that I glance at once in a while, not a very large library.

      The single state is a higher vocation than the married state. Our Lord and Saint Paul were in agreement on that 😊

      I think I know where you are coming from, and if I do, I was there. The advice I am going to give is easy to agree with intellectually and to convince yourself that you are doing. But you need to really follow it from the heart. We are to have no false gods before us. Whatever is the most important thing in our life is our god. Many people say to God “if you only give me this job” I’ll do everything else you want Lord” or “if you get me this house I will pray the entire Divine Office in full every day”, or “I don’t ask for anything dear Lord, only that I get married, and I will be able to serve you better and sin less.”.

      The best thing you can possibly do is resign your will to God’s will, “Dear Lord, if you don’t want me to get married, I am perfectly fine with that, even relived, since it is thy will”. But you really have to be perfectly content with not getting married. Not just intellectually, but resigned in your heart, that you will be content not to get married.

      The side effect of this, and this not the goal, is that you will become more interesting to women once you really do not care if you get married or not. You will no longer appear desperate, and they can pick up on your desperation. You will appear, and perhaps actually become, much more secure with yourself. If you are good willed, and it appears you are to me, then God has a plan for you, and you will get married, at the right time, to the right person. If the previous two lack, because you are desperate, and trying to force it, and willing to settle, you will live a sad and bitter life, despite being married and having children.

      I can only imagine how difficult it is these days to find a lady who will follow the Church’s teaching on contraception, dress modestly, agrees with educating the children in a Catholic way, which oftentimes means homeschooling, and is sedevacantist. If one of these lack the marriage will not be a happy one and your children’s souls will be in danger. God knows this and He does not want you to find out the hard way.

      Pray every day for the ability to accept God’s will for you in this life, whatever His will may be for you, from the heart, and carry one like the Catholic man that you are, secure in yourself, concerned only with saving your soul, and if a Catholic women finds that kind of man attractive, she just might be worthy of you and of raising your offspring.

      We do not want fake, vain and superficial women to be the mother of our children. Being a Catholic man, who only wants to do God’s will, whatever it may be, will weed out the fakes, and those who care more about perception than reality, and a truly Catholic woman, who will raise godly offspring may fall in your lap. But you will be perfectly fine, even better off if she does not, because God’s will will be done.

    2. It's my opinion the White Race will be reduced to 10% or less of the Western World's demographics within the next 30 yrs. Modern White Women are Godless literal Sodomites.
      Consider asking out a non-White Catholic lady and expose her to traditional Catholicism.
      I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but its the truth.

      God bless,

  8. Hi Paul,

    Just letting you know that I have read this and will need to take some time to give an answer worthy of your questions. I hope to respond in full by Saturday.

    May God bless you too!

  9. Hello John Gregory,

    Thank you very much for guest posting.

    “The more you you consider how nice it would be to skip Mass this week, the more likely it will be that you will entertain excuses…” So true. I read something about will power in the past – the writers claimed there was no such thing as having “more” of it, rather, the people that appeared to have more used their will to make a commitment – that they either were, or were not, going to do something, and that the alternative was simply not an option any more. Praise God, even though Church is not nearby, I do not view not attending as an option, so in this case, I do not even think about entertaining excuses. Now, if I could just copy this mindset into other areas of my life…

    I believe battling sloth is an issue for many. I struggle with it, so your post on the topic is most appreciated. I will try and remember to have zeal and practice diligence, as well as to utilize the triple remedy. Time is indeed very short for us in working out our salvation.

    God Bless,
    -Seeking Truth

  10. Hi John
    May ask what happened to Kathleen Plumb who started the great Four Marks newspaper in MT? She just disappeared. Did you go back to the SSPV? Thank you

    1. I have been wondering the same thing about Kathleen Plumb for some time. It seems whoever knows anything has been sworn to secrecy. Keep her in your prayers, she is a wonderful woman, we could use more like her in this world.

      I didn't go back to SSPV. They are a solid group that I would recommend. For liturgy, sermons and confession. Very well trained. They err big time on one issue, so if you had a choice between them and the CMRI, I would go with the CMRI if they were close to an equal distance apart. I would go with some independent priests over both, other independent priests I would avoid, apart from necessity.

    2. SSPV is letting up on the Faithful one important issue,thankfully. They still hold the same view but aren't enforcing it like they used to,Deo Gratias.

    3. Catholic,
      I agree. I love the SSPV. Disagree with them on so-called "Thuc Bishops" issue, which is not as strong as it used to be (as you noted), and I disagree on use of pre-Pian Holy Week. Overall a great group of Traditionalist clergy.

      God Bless,


    4. Personally love "pre-55" Holy Week and is one reason I support the CSPV.
      If we ever live to see a Restoration,this one issue (1956 or pre-1955) will solve so much confusion and division. If they hypothetically choose 1956 Holy Week,I will painfully submit.

      God bless,

  11. What a interesting question . We too have wondered about Kathleen Plumb.