The men of All Saints Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, held a retreat the weekend of Advent II, December 6-8, 2019. Led by the Right Rev. Chandler Jones, the retreat consisted of the Daily Offices, periods of silence and reflection, and four talks on the vice of acedia and its counterpart virtues. They spent two nights at a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, and the beauty of the land proved to be a perfect spot for fellowship and meditation on the rich content of the presentations.
The retreat began with the confirmation of Adam Fickley and Evening Prayer. Afterwards, Bishop Jones identified and explained the vice of acedia in his first lecture and then its treatment in the second lecture. During the discussion which followed, it became clear how prevalent this vice is in modern culture. Building upon two books which were offered (one by R.J. Snell and the other by Jean Charles Nault), Bishop Jones showed how modern tendencies towards sloth on the one hand and frenetic distraction on the other both come from the same source of self-indulgent nihilism.
The next day after Morning Prayer, Bishop Jones helped the men see how the theological virtues are the antidote for acedia, spiritual or mental sloth. He taught how our growth in faith, hope, and charity through the sacraments build a defense against acedia and provide a clear path for us towards true worship of God. Like the monks in the desert, Christians today fight the same vices, even though they manifest themselves in different ways. Bishop Jones taught how to understand the wisdom of these Fathers and to apply their wisdom to our modern predicament. The retreat finished with a long period of silence, more discussion, and, of course, a bonfire on a chilly night.
In total, twenty-five men participated in the weekend.