I thought about writing about lust second in this series on the Seven Deadly Sins because St. Josemaria Escriva says, “Gluttony is the forerunner of impurity”, and I have found that to be true at times in my experience. But there’s another Deadly Sin more intimately connected to gluttony in my spiritual life.
Sloth loves chunk indeed.
Some of my college buddies might be reminiscing to the time I did a shirtless “Truffle-Shuffle” in our dorm room. Everyone else is undoubtedly shouting, “Heeeey yoooouuuu guuuuys!” or “Baby Ruth?” at their computer screens. If you’re not, you need to stop reading this and Netflix The Goonies right now.
But sloth (or, as Fr. Robert Barron pronounces it, “Sl- ‘long O’ -th) isn’t just the friendly Fratelli brother, and it’s not these cute little guys either:
It’s a Deadly Sin.
I can’t tell you how many times my overindulgence of pizza has made me too tired to pray. I can’t tell you how often I’ve chosen to scarf a bowl of vanilla ice cream with both chocolate and strawberry syrup on it rather than do some spiritual reading. My gluttony has often gotten in the way of spiritual activities.
But that’s not even the truest relationship between the two. The Deadly Sins are more like the Seven Sin-Diseases: they are sicknesses of the soul, not so much things-we-do as ways-we-are or types-of-people-we-become. And sloth is that terrifying sickness that makes you not care about your soul at all.
Imagine if there was a virus (maybe there is) that makes you not care about eating. You could eat, you could not eat, doesn’t matter, no big deal. If someone makes you do it, you will, but left to your own devices eating seems like more of a hassle than it’s worth.
You would get very sick. You would wither. You would die.
But you can almost see how someone could ignore the fact that such a disease was a problem for a long time. As a matter of fact, if I caught this appetite killing virus, I would probably look a lot healthier in the short term. I’d drop weight, fit my pants better, look sleek and trim and athletic. Especially because I’ve got people around me who would make me eat on occasion, or there would be some situations where it would be more of a pain not to eat than to eat so I would just for ease’s sake.
But over time, I’d get gaunt and my skin would get grey and sallow and my eyes would sink. And then I’d die.
Apply this to the soul and we see how dangerous sloth is.
I’ve been blessed to not have to struggle much with sloth. I used to think it was the same as laziness, and if that were the case then there was a long period of time where I’d have been guilty of this sin for sure, but I’ve learned that sloth is more of this apathy towards the health of the soul, towards relationship with God, and one of the graces He’s given me is that I’ve always had an interest in my faith (as I’ll talk about later, it’s no lack of humility to admit the graces we’ve received from God).
But I get tastes (pun intended) of sloth when I indulge my gluttony. When I sate my body to the point of excess, I cannot muster the physical or spiritual energy to tend to my soul at all. And so the one sin leads to the other, breaking down as it were the immune system of my spiritual life so that even diseases I’m not naturally prone to are able to take root and get me sicker.
Sloth is not funny. It is perhaps the great modern sin, ravaging our populations as the unintended consequence of the imperialistic exploits of the “dictatorship of relativism”, the smallpox of the soul that might well lead to a spiritual genocide that its perpetrators never wanted, the disease of the “explorers” who thought the “natives” were in desperate need of their empire.
But, as always, there is hope. And (next time) we’ll look to St. Thomas Aquinas to find it.