Sloth and Diligence and Summer
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
This summer will undoubtedly prove to be different. Typically, summer is a time many of us look forward to a slower pace, or maybe a vacation. As things reopen and activities that weren’t possible a short time ago begin again, we might find ourselves wanting to be busier and more active than we’ve been recently — especially if we’ve spent a lot of time at home or on a completely different schedule. Maybe we want to take a vacation from “doing less.” 
But the experience of being less busy or having our activity restricted, can bring with it a particular spiritual struggle — especially if we’re someone who is typically quite active. It might mean fighting against the vice of sloth. Sloth is sometimes thought of as “being lazy,” but it’s more than that. 
We can all have those times when we don’t feel like doing very much or when we don’t seem to get much accomplished. These things are pretty universal but don’t necessarily equate to being truly slothful. 
Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins (or Seven Capital Vices). As with the others, it’s really about a habit that has taken hold in us. In this case, it’s about having acquired a habit of not fulfilling our responsibilities or spending too much time on leisure. These might be responsibilities of any sort — including spiritual ones. 
We all might fail to fulfill some responsibility because we end up wasting time or we simply don’t feel like doing it. Sloth, as a vice though, is really about falling into this behavior repeatedly, habitually. 
Because we may have grown somewhat accustomed to doing less or not having as many responsibilities, it can be difficult to re-engage and begin to do more again. We might be tempted to fall into slothful ways, simply because we’ve grown accustomed to doing less. 
Sloth is really about having both the ability and the means to carry out our responsibilities but choosing not to. Or it can be thought of in terms of an excessive or inordinate desire for leisure. 
The problem that some might face is that because “doing less” has become normal, learning a new routine (even if it was our previous one) of “doing more” is one that might not only take some time, but one we may not feel like doing. It doesn’t mean that we’re slothful, just that we may be more tempted by it than we have been before. 
The circumstances we might find ourselves in can play a large role in determining not only what we are tempted with, but also the degree to which we might be tempted. Fortunately, with any temptation there’s also a remedy. And in the case of any “vice” there’s always a “virtue” that can help to overcome it or prevent it from taking root. 
In the case of sloth, the virtue to combat it is “diligence.” Diligence simply means that we have the habit of completing our responsibilities well. The diligent person is not a “workaholic” but simply one who knows what he or she must do to complete their responsibilities and then actually complete them. As a virtue, it’s only acquired by repeated choices. 
The good news is, we can build this (or any virtue), through small, simple, repeated choices. We don’t have to be perfect in order to begin acquiring a virtue. We can start small — and then the small habits we build can become the foundation for building larger ones. 
If we find ourselves struggling in this way this summer we can begin by accomplishing small things consistently. And then gradually add larger and larger things as that habit grows. Even small victories count in the battle against vice. After all, every step toward becoming more diligent is a step further away from sloth. 
As we make progress, we might even find ourselves building other virtues as well.