The Battle Against Sloth

“Trouble” was afoot yesterday, as my favorite Priest came to visit our parish yesterday as he does once a month or so for our Youth Mass. And as I always do when he visits us, I went to confession. ( and details some previous confessions with him).

It was another great confession, this time only lasting about thirty minutes or so. During the confession I brought up something which him and I talked about at a previous confession, something that I’ve identified as a struggle; sloth. That is, an excess of laziness.

Now, I have said before on these forums that I have ADHD, which means I get distracted very easily. In fact, I should be doing work right now but I am instead writing this. The question is it my ADHD that causes me not to do things or is it the sloth? Because I look in my life and I see a lot of times where it isn’t the ADHD, it’s me being too lazy. Praying for example, could be both. I cannot focus during prayer, even when I want to. In fact, the only time I truly can focus on prayer is while doing music (which, thank God, is a form of prayer). But when I lie down before bed at night, is it ADHD or laziness which prevents me from praying? Both, but I know for sure there are times it is sloth.

Keep in mind this is not the same as my wife, who battles depression. Depression robs her of motivation and energy, and affects her brain chemistry in a harsh way. Her, she cannot choose her state, her brain is wired that way by default and needs to be treated accordingly. Myself though, my brain functions at a rapid pace. If anything, I should never be slothful, I should always be moving and active because that is what stimulates my mind and is how I am wired. And more often then not when dealing with things and with people, this is what happens, This is evident when I set down, as while I am sitting I cannot stop moving. You see further evidence with this writing; I should be working AT WORK right now, but I am writing. Yet when it comes time to do certain things, this is often not the case; sloth wins the day and I don’t feel up to doing anything. You know, an easy way this is from the Devil is that it directly counters how my mind is structured. He knows my mind is wired to operate in a certain way (fast paced, no attention span) so what does he do? Inflict me with sloth. Add in physical problems that limit my physical activity and then we have lots of inner conflicts. Tricky dude, that Devil.

Several times while talking to Father I have expressed my frustration with sin, in that I do things I know are wrong yet I do them anyway. That I want to fight these things but they often get the better of me. This brings me into conflict with myself, and obviously harms my relationships with others (and especially God). But sloth is a different beast. It’s one which cannot be approached in the same way. You attack and fight your sins by acknowledging them, but you cannot treat sloth the same way. As I told Father yesterday;

“Alright, I’m slothful right now. I should probably do something about tha…….meh, whatever. I’ll do it later or whatever”.

You see? Acknowledging the sloth does not offer the same window as does acknowledging it’s there. Knowing the sloth is there often isn’t very helpful, because you still need to fight the lethargy.

So Father told me something, I believe from St. Therese, who said something to the extent of; “if you do not have the energy or motivation to even pick up a piece of string from the ground yet you do so, the graces you receive will be exponential” (I’d love the exact quote of someone knows it).

So he challenged me to do this; he said if you don’t feel like doing something fight it and do it anyway and watch the blessings come down. Related to this; he gave a GREAT homily about tithing at Mass and spoke of how we do not tithe for the Church, we actually tithe for ourselves. He spoke to the parish as a whole, then he specifically directed some comments to the youth telling them about the importance of tithing and that it’s never too early to start. I’ve never been big on tithing, I’ve never did it before. But before I got this job I promised God I would do it; 10% of my money is His and will be used to build His Church. So I’ve started; two of the youth who used to be involved at Life Teen at my parish have since moved on to do Missionary work. One is doing University Campus ministry in another province with C.C.O. (and I’ve known him since he was in Grade EIGHT), the other is working out of C.C.O.'s headquarters. Both have to fundraise their salaries for the year. So, based on my relationships with them, I decided to use half of the 10% on them. My issue now is I have no yet set up the paperwork for the other 5%. You see, if I use the envelopes I will forget to bring it some week, or I will misplace the envelopes. ADHD does that, it’s why I don’t carry or ever buy an agenda. So I need to set up direct withdrawals from my back account, yet that requires effort.

So I need to make the effort, and take to heart what St. Therese said. I need to lift up the string from the ground. To do this I am going to get the tithing figured out. And I’ve decided to read more mystic writings of the Church. Typically I read the more apologetics/instructional writings due to my work with youth/RCIA stuff, but the mystics still need to be explored.

Times like this I know through the grace of God and the power of the Sacraments I can fight this. Hopefully the momentum continues throughout the week.

I also should figure out where I should be posting this stuff. I’m unsure of “TC” is the proper section or not. I just know a few of the people who post here so I figured I’d share it with you all.

I used to have a much cleaner house when I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t slothful. :slight_smile: I get distracted, too. Now, my house is not quite as clean but my anxieties about my faults have been lifted.

This is a huge struggle for me also. The sloth, not where to post about it! :wink: I think the Spirituality forum would be the perfect place. Number one, it’s appropriate to speak about conquering faults and growing in virtue, and number two, I’d see it there! I only visit here occasionally, but look at Spirituality every day.


Sloth is my big battle at the moment, although it isn’t much of a battle so far. I have a long, unpleasant task that has to be done. I was going to get started on it two weeks ago, then last week. Now I’m thinking maybe the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow is not a good day to start. :nope: But, the day after tomorrow, definitely, probably… :sleep:

Your priest sounds wise, take his advice! I’ll be right there behind you, taking the same advice, but with just a slight delay. :sleep:

The Battle Against Sloth - sounds like a really violent video game.


I feel your pain. I have ADD, and depression. Like you, I *should *be working right now, too. Living with a lack of focus is a major struggle. I don’t win all the time, but I usually do a pretty good job (if I remember to take my medicine). You didn’t say if you took medicine or not, but I would suggest you should. I’m pretty worthless without it, myself.

Another thing I would suggest, from a psychological *and *a spiritual perspective, is not to blame the devil so much. He may certainly play a part in your distractions, as he does mine, but if we are in a state of grace (go to Confession as often as you can) and we pray for protection and focus, we can win against his temptations more easily. When we fall to temptation, it is *our *fault, not his. One of the most comedic parts of the Bible is the part in Genesis when God confronts Adam about his wearing clothes and Adam confesses to eating the fruit… (paraphrased) Adams says, “the woman made me do it,” then the woman says, “the devil made me do it.” They are standing before God like frightened children busted for breaking something, which is basically how it was, I guess. Anyway, hold your self accountable. It may help you gain more control over your self. But, holding your self accountable doesn’t mean you need to dwell on your failings. Save the guilt for the confessional, don’t let it be another point of distraction itself. Accept the fact that you will fail at times, but don’t let that fact become license for you to fail, either. Know what I mean?

Also, It seems that your work invlolves a computer, so, maybe you could set up hourly reminders for your self thru Outlook, or something like that. There *are *ways to help us combat sloth. When your next wave of motivation comes, try to establish systems to help you thru the darker times.

God bless you.

As you may have gathered from the comments of the more serious-minded posters on this thread, the game is more difficult than it appears. If you ever consider playing, you may want to know in advance that the Battle Against Sloth is an odd sort of game, where
(1) you are both combatant and battlefield
(2) if you are playing correctly, all of the violence is directed inward towards yourself
(3) if, after tremendous struggle, you emerge victorious, you won’t be greeted with high-fives. You’ll get impatient “about time” and “what was so hard about that?” comments, instead.

On the other hand, if you win a complete victory over yourself, you do get a nifty crown, and there is help available.

The Devil is not responsible for the ADHD, this I know. God made me this way for a reason of course. Satan is responsible for the sloth though, and he also knows where I am weak and can attack that accordingly. When one has an active mind and has the compulsive need to move, Satan’s best course of action would be to inflict physical pain to the point where one has limited movement, and also introduce sloth.

I was on Ritalin for a while, but the issues remained. There are alternative medicines (a doctor mentioned Aderall) I could try, but it costs a lot of money and I lack drug coverage. I wanted to also see a psychologist, but again it costs money. I finally have a family doctor so I should set up an appointment…but that requires not getting distracted.

It is safe to say that I am always surrounded by computers. I do IT work for a living and play games as a hobby. My wife was asking questions about e-readers and I immediately started asking if it had web integration on it, as there’s no way I would get something like that without it. It might be an idea to set up Outlook reminders, I should try that.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this of late. When I was unemployed I was miserable because I wasn’t doing anything. Now I am working my productivity is terrible. But it is less to do with ADHD and more to do with the sloth. How does one motivate themselves when they have sloth? It’s like someone boasting of their humility. “RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE HUMBLE!” type of thing. It’s fairly ironic, and I must say I marvel at how effective Satan is at making things difficult for us. But in the end, perseverance is the word of the day. What Father Dan mentioned has helped, as I know now that even doing something small means great graces can come.

Speramus, thank you for posting that passage, as I love the Book of James (my favorite of the Epistles).

I love the idea of blaming adhd instead of sloth, it sounds so much more pc

I think the sin is primarily about one’s spiritual duties, although neglect of duties of one’s station in life could also qualify. Since our failings due to adhd are usually due to distraction, forgetfulness or otherwise part of the disorder, and not willful disobedience, I think it could be dangerous to start calling those failings sloth, let alone sin at all.

I know what you mean.
And, again, I know the devil is a real enemy, and I know he keeps busy trying to lead us all astray every which way he can. I don’t deny that. I’m just concerned that it may be harder for you to win this battle if you don’t accept your participation in the sloth, or any other sin. The devil can not *make *you slothful. You are not his puppet. All the devil can do is tempt you. It is your choice to fall to that temptation that you have control over. Like building up any other virtues for ourselves, we must practice and train ourselves to make a good habit of avoiding sin. Sloth is no different.

I don’t mean to preach to you on this matter so much. I’m no better, really. I do take my medicine, so I may have a slight advantage over my own slothful tendencies. I’m glad to hear that you will be able to see a doctor about it. Ritalin is cheap, at least, if you want to maybe try it again. For me, the combination of my anti-depressant along with the Ritalin made a bigger difference.

I wonder, also, what exactly you count as sloth. You don’t have to explain that here, but maybe you should be extra sure that some of what you see in yourself as sloth is truly sloth. You know? Like being distracted is not really a matter of sloth, just because you may not be getting as much work done, or whatever. I bet you’re not really as lazy as you think. Of course, I could be wrong… just something to think about.

I will pray for you.

On the spiritual warfare side, a brown scapular with St. Benedict medals is very helpful. They are already blessed with the exorcism blessing from the above source.

What makes a person give up sloth? Positive and negative motivation in my case…

I think of the joys of God and Heaven… and read about them – the latter in particular, because of my poor imagination…

I think about the terrors of Hell and the fewness of the saved and read about them… again the latter in particular… truly brings it into my imagination…

And then I think about whatever it is that I am doing that is useless and slothful compared to what I could be doing that is good and helpful. If I am doing something useless or something that is basically nothing, I think, “Well you have to give up this eventually, sooner or later, you have to change. Change today, is the best way. Tomorrow you don’t necessarily have. So you have to do it sooner or later. Better to do it today.”

Then I think about how healthful a life it is to be doing something, to think positively about doing something more actively, rather than putting it off and thinking negatively about the effort involved, one associates positive emotions with the task.

I think about how doing something truly good in a truly good way is something you can reflect on lastingly and happily in Heaven.

I will pray for your stick-to-itiveness! :smiley:

Very insightful… no, really!
:thumbsup: :ballspin:

I was interested to see what advice would be offered on this thread and I must say this is excellent advice. Thank you, Shin! And may God give strength and perseverance to those who struggle with this vice.

Deo Gratias.

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