"His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?"
"If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks."
But I Do Lots of Stuff!
Most people think of sloth as laziness, not doing much of anything, but just sitting around doing nothing. Many people stay busy most of the time but don't do the things they should, putting them off for later. They may be staying busy so they have an excuse.
Sloth (or acedia) is a kind of spiritual laziness (as opposed to mere physical fatigue or depression). It means not making it a priority to do what we should, or change what we should in ourselves. Some people might call it apathy, which means a lack of feeling.
An example might be a parent that always sends their child to bed early so they can have lots of quiet time to play solitaire or watch TV. Perhaps they could let the child stay up a little later and play a game with them or read. Or perhaps they always tell their child "no!" without taking the trouble to explain why...
Another example could be someone active in a political movement. Perhaps they don't bother to read other opinions and so never question whether their group is right or wrong. As a result, they could support some very wrong beliefs, such as racism, because they never tried to find the truth.
In business, some people never check into the laws to see if their practices are illegal. For Christians, we sometimes don't really want to know what the Bible (or our Church) teaches about something, so we put off reading or asking about it. Sloth is quite possibly the main reason why people don't read good spiritual books. They will read Christian fiction or some odd Gnostic gospel instead that "tickles their ears," but never the ones that could call them to action: loving their neighbor, helping the poor, telling the truth.
Lastly, there might be a student who naturally picks everything up with very little effort. Instead of learning more than required, or doing volunteer work, they might just sit around getting high or gossiping. Not because it is fun, but because they just don't care.
It should be noted that vices often are disguised as virtues. So sloth is often disguised as calmness, serenity, keeping a level head, open mindedness, etc... If sloth is the reality, people will get very defensive.
Or maybe not if the problem is sloth: it is too much effort to defend it.
For continued reading, the following are a few good books:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2302, also 2262, 2286
"Mere Christianity," by C.S. Lewis
"The Little Flowers of St. Francis"
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Text copyright © 2004 William E. Rushman; image copyright © 2004 Solomon Kane