Unable to locate document 2005

The Demon of Laziness - Drifting Away from Faith

Fr. Luke A. Veronis

What demons do you struggle with in your life? Let’s each think about this. Maybe you’ve never thought about them as demons, but what habits, temptations, inclinations, struggles and addictive behaviors have tried to direct and even control your life? We all have certain “demons” with which we wrestle! And if we aren’t careful, these demons can subtly lead us away from God and sometimes even take over our lives!

In today’s Gospel story we see Jesus encounter a legion of demons who have taken possession of a man, turning him into a pathetic, broken, lost soul. He’s ostracized from society living among the tombs, half dead himself. He no longer knows even his own name but calls himself Legion, after the host of demons that possess him. Christ confronts these dark forces and frees the man, giving him new life and renewed hope.

This is the power that Jesus Christ can have in our own lives. He can free us from whatever demons we struggle with and He will give us new life! Whatever habits, temptations, and addictive behaviors we struggle with in our lives - even if we have been wrestling with them for years - Christ is the Source of Power to help us overcome and discover new life.

Now we can focus on a lot of different demons that attack and deeply injure many of us – pride, lust, greed, envy, gluttony, anger – but today I want to highlight how the demon of laziness insidiously destroys our faith and cunningly leads us away from God.

We all may think that being a little lazy doesn’t really matter – like if we are lazy on a nice summer day or relaxing in a lazy way during a vacation. We can find ways to justify laziness. Yet, in our spiritual life, laziness is a deadly demon. Laziness leads to apathy, indifference, passivity, detachment and ultimately a rejection of faith. It reflects the antithesis of a sober, serious, spiritual life! This demon of laziness works subtly and gradually, gently and cunningly leading us away from God.

Jesus Christ warned against this demon when He asks His followers a disturbing question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We live in a time when many people are turning away from faith in God – some consciously but many unconsciously drifting away from faith, simply being influenced by the spirit of the world as they become lazy in spiritual concerns.

Even for us who profess faith, we are in danger of living out our faith in a very lukewarm, tepid, nominal manner. Saint Paul cautions that in the end times people will “be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness but denying its power.” We claim that our faith is important and central in our lives yet reality shows how we prioritize our pursuit of pleasure, temporal gratification, self-centered desires that leads to self-indulgence and even hedonism.

Be on guard, the demon of laziness insidiously destroys our faith and cunningly leads us away from God.

C. S. Lewis perceptively noted this unconscious “drifting away.” “We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither our belief in Christianity nor any other belief will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”

Society deeply influences all of us and we see skepticism, doubt and uncertainty about faith constantly via the internet or in our daily conversations. This uncertainty may lead us to question beliefs we once held strong.

The greatest influencer in leading us away from faith is probably the comfortable, easy life which simply anesthetizes us to the spiritual struggle we must engage in if we want a truly follow a life in Christ. Combine this temptation of ease and comfort with the constant “lie” which Satan whispers in our ears “to seek after whatever immediate pleasures and entertainment there are.” We slowly believe the deception that our deepest happiness in life comes from pursuing such temporal pleasures.

We can find many reasons to explain why people turn away or fall from faith. Too often, though, this drifting away is due to our laziness. We simply don’t carve out time and put in much effort in our spiritual disciplines. We don’t “seek first the kingdom of God” as our Lord Jesus Christ advised.

CS Lewis noted, “most people simply drift away” because they don’t feed themselves spiritual food. They don’t give attention to their spiritual life. We ignore our spiritual appetite and hunger and basically starve our spirit.

St John of Kronstadt highlighted, “One of the infirmities of the human spirit is its slowness to faith and its laziness in acquiring knowledge of truth, especially truths related to faith and piety. What do people study most lazily? The truths of faith and piety.”

If we don’t give much attention to our spiritual life, if we don’t nourish it with daily food - through constant prayer, spiritual reading, conscious effort to live lives of love, mercy and compassion, through regularly being filled with God’s Presence and Grace through the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Holy Confession - if we don’t nourish our spiritual life it will slowly wither and die.

This weakening of our spiritual disciplines decrease our desire for spiritual things which then leads to a declining and waning spiritual life. Before we realize it, we will have drifted away from our sincere love for Jesus Christ and our faith in His Church and the Good News that He proclaims.

If we occupy ourselves with the cares and entertainments of this world - filling up much of our time with sports, with celebrities, with political news, with countless temporal and not-so-important things - we will not find time to meditate on what is eternal and everlasting. We carelessly give all our times to the here and now, to all that is in front of us and in what will entertain us right now, instead of what is eternal.

Throughout the Old Testament we hear the Prophets and the righteous people of God reminding the Israelites “ Remember!” Remember what God has done for His people. Remember how God has acted in the world. Remember the deception of this world and all its enticing temptations, taking note how they will lead us away from the One True God. Remember!

Saint Paul warned the early Christians in like manner: Stay vigilant. Be on guard. Wake up. Now is the time of salvation! Now is the time to act!” In Revelation, St. John tells the first century Church in Ephesus that “you have left your first love” and then warns the Church in Laodacia that they have become “lukewarm.”

The demon of laziness insidiously destroys our faith and cunningly leads us away from God.

This danger of apathy and unconsciously drifting away is a temptation for people of faith in every generation. That is why we learn from the past and stand on guard, stay vigilant, and remain attentive!

Too many people have become lazy in the discipline of attending church on a weekly basis. Too many have gotten used to not prioritizing communal worship and sporadically partaking in the Eucharist and uniting with Jesus Christ through receiving His most precious Body and Blood each week.

When we stop dedicating the first day of the week to God, when we become lazy in praying to the Lord every day, when we don’t find time to read spiritual material to nourish our souls and minds, and when we seemingly prioritize everything else above our spiritual well-being, then we will surely drift away from our faith.

We may not consciously reject our faith; we may still call ourselves Christians; we may even say we believe our faith is important; yet, if we don’t carve out time for God every day and diligently seek after Him in the Church, then we will unconsciously wander away.

The demon of laziness insidiously destroys our faith and cunningly leads us away from God.

Be careful! Be attentive! Be on guard! Practice carefully the spiritual disciplines so that we can nourish our spirits and open our hearts each day and every week to God, avoiding the involuntarily drifting away happening in our world today.