“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep — so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11).
Archimandrite Markell (Pavuk), the spiritual father of the Kiev theology schools, speaks about the main cause of laziness.
– Father, where does laziness come from? What will happen if we do not fight with it?
– A “modern laziness” is mostly typical for people living in comfortable city circumstances. For example, there is no need for them to go outside to get some water or to chop wood and stoke a furnace so that it will be warm in the house. In a village, if you has not brought some water and chopped wood, you will be frozen and hungry.
Work is an important necessity in a village. If you are lazy, you have to live in the cold without any food. Our laziness is the result of comfort.
– What do we need to do, father? Shall we reject the blessings of civilization?
– It is rather difficult for a modern person to reject them. Civilization has enslaved us. Some people try to avoid such life and settle in far monasteries, for example in the regions of Caucasus or Carpathians. However, there are not so many people, who avoid comfort and make themselves work in such a way.
– How can we struggle with laziness then?
– A loving and prudent person avoids laziness. He always worries that if he does not do what depends on him, then it can make other people suffer.
Laziness never comes to people in whose house there are many children. The members of such a family always have many duties and they simply have no time to relax. Cooking, washing and cleaning – almost all family members, excerpt from the youngest children, are dealing with this. At the same time, in small families with one child or without children it is much more difficult to cope with laziness.
By the way, the desire for easy and comfortable life is one of the reasons of not having many children. On its turn, it leads to the absence of responsibility because there is no one whom to care and worry about. And then it leads to laziness.
– Our time is the time of optimization. People want to make less effort, but get higher results. Our life is developing in this direction.
– It is truth that modern conveniences of our life help us to solve various problems with minimum efforts. It is expected that people will become happier and will pay more attention to each other.
– However, it all happens on the contrary. Why so?
– Because it is impossible to defeat our selfishness, individualism and other passions with the help of various technical means and achievements. In the 21th century, the nature of a person remains the same as it has been in the 4th century. Only the state of mind has changed a bit. The inner condition of a person can be changed not by machines and computers, but only by God’s grace, which people can fully receive only when they participate in the Church Sacraments. As far as many people neglect the Church, unsolvable problems emerge. Now we are speaking about one of such problems, which snowballs all the time.
– What should we do then?
– It is better for a person, who wants to overcome his laziness, to experience the monastic life as much as his duties allow. Since ancient times people were looking for consolation in monasteries and traveled for long distances to get there.
The rhythm of the monastic life does not let you be lazy. Apart from venerating the holy relics of saints, pilgrims learn here how to be self-organized. In any monastery, there is a strict day schedule, which has not been changed for centuries. It includes obligatory services – Midnight service, Hours, Liturgy, evening services; meal time, time for work and rest… Everything is cyclical.
All people living in the world can emulate the monastic schedule to some extent and try to organize their day strictly; to think thoroughly about when they will work, pray or rest. It will be much easier then to overcome your laziness. As history shows, in ancient times people lived exactly like that, trying to emulate the life of monastics. That is why sometimes the foreigners who visited our land imagined it as one large monastery.
– Why is it much easier to organize yourself in a monastery then when you try to do it on your own?
– For example, I personally would not attend the service because of my laziness. But then I see the brothers who are going there. And I understand that I will be ashamed of the brothers if I miss the service. All people in a monastery are connected just like in a big family. If you are not present at the service, then someone else will have to take out the particles instead of you. If you are a member of the choir, but you has not come, then it will affect the choir’s singing and the mood of all the people who serve and participate in the service. Each person has a great responsibility here. Here you always have a strong sense of duty which do not let you be lazy. The brethren always try to support each other.
The same situation should be in a family: the sense of responsibility, mutual support, bearing of other’s burdens. If there is no such mood in a family, then the spouses begin to clear up who owes who, who must do this or that, who has done more and so on.
What is more, laziness must be fought steadily when the first symptoms emerge. Dismay in one of such symptoms. And we know that we can defeat dismay with prayer and fast. If they are combined, then your house will be full of joy.
– Father, it seems then that there is no clear advice in this case. We return to prayer and fast all the time.
– The problem is that we do not always understand what the true prayer and fast should be. Often we pity ourselves too much and think that if we devote more time to prayer, then we will not manage to do something else. However, this is just a trap.