Why Are We So Sad?

Why Are We So Sad?

“This ‘liberating’ secular society inevitably leaves a profound void inside the soul of modern man”

This “liberating” secular society inevitably leaves a profound void inside the soul of modern man creating a frustration and desolation that many have termed a spiritual wasteland.

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Such an attitude calls to mind the condition that Saint Thomas Aquinas calls acedia, which he defines as the weariness for holy and spiritual things and a subsequent sadness of living.[1] As a spiritual being, the man afflicted with acedia denies his spiritual appetites. “He does not want to be what God wants him to be,” notes Josef Pieper, “and that means that he does not want to be what he really, and in the ultimate sense, is.”[2] This refusal cannot help but bring sadness and even despair.

The modern version of acedia includes both a weariness and a wariness for all things RTO-Audiobook-AD-medium-resspiritual. There is the conscious turning away from holy and spiritual things as well as a cultural regime where sublime goals or religious ideals are looked upon with suspicion and simply not considered to be an important part of our lives. The intensive feverish activity of modern life often is an attempt to hide acedia’s effects of listlessness, low spirits, and lack of joy.


[1] See Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 35, a. 1.

[2] Pieper, Leisure, 28.

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  • Bill_B

    Thanks, Mr. Horvat. There was A LOT SAID in your short post. On this occasion, I have edited my summary of Mr. Pieper’s book, Leisure — the Basis of Culture: The author describes the relation of leisure to worship and philosophy, and the relation of philosophy to God’s revelation and to theology. Over half of the book describes philosophy/philosophizing along the line of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine of Hippo (but the whole thing started with Adam and Eve). Leisure is not idleness and it’s not something only for the “rich”. It is a condition of the soul which gives a person a chance to see reality, more so than if we are in work-mode. Without work, man would die; but without philosophizing, man would be idle. In other words, he would not be becoming what his Creator made him to be. We are made to work and to philosophize (as well as sleep and play). Philosophizing is the loving search for an understanding of Being and Eternal Wisdom, and it is the primary action of man. (The book is short, only 160 pages counting the index. ISBN 1890318353.)