One Minute Meditations: St. Joesemaria Escriva on Idleness

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St. Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei and the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross. Image via Wikipedia.

By neglecting small details you could work on and on without rest and yet live the life of a perfect idler.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #494


What is idleness?

According to Fr. John Hardon‘s Modern Catholic Dictionary (as found on CatholicCulture.org) defines idleness as:

Unwillingness to work. The reason may be physical, because a person lacks the strength; or mental, because one does not know what to do; or moral, because of laziness that will not expend the effort needed perhaps even to begin a task or at least perform it as it should be done.

Why is being unwilling to work bad?

Basically it boils down to shirking one’s responsibilities. If you are being paid to do something and you do not do it, then the Church teaches that it is the equivalent to stealing, assuming that it is all above-board of course.

Something else to consider is the phrase “idle hands/minds are the devil’s workshop/playground.” This phrase makes perfect theological sense especially in light of Scripture and Tradition:

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

2 Thessalonians (RSV) 3:6-13

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