I am revising my paper on Paradise Lost and am writing on the despair that is found in Milton's epic. The essence of my paper is showing the despair to be acedia, which Kathleen Norris has examined at length. I research the term sloth in Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas and Aquinas' use of St. John Cassian on the eight deadly sins, which includes acedia. This paper (and the class) has been really helpful for me. It reinforces what I have been learning over the past years. To get out despair and/or acedia is done through repentance and sacrificial love. It has been helpful to see how Paradise Lost shows the destructiveness of evil and the despair that it brings. To realize that acedia is a refusal of joy is to realize why the Saints are so joy-filled.
Ultimately, we are called to love God and love others so much that it becomes an ascetical struggle of self-emptying. I am no where near to this, as I am very young in the faith. I am being called to small (but big to me) steps to grow up; we are called to small obediences and have to choose God again and again.
May the Lord strengthen us for the battle and may the prayers of the Holy Apostles enable us to continue running in the race.
Soon another fast period will be upon us; for those of us on the Old Calendar, this fast is a month long this year. We are called to do what we can and be obedient accordingly.