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The Lost Name for the Emotion We’re All Feeling Right Now

October 23, 2020

Dear Friends on the Journey,

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” This quotation from the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats has always tickled me. I was reminded of it as someone sent me an article on “Acedia: the Lost Name for the Emotion We’re All Feeling Right Now.” (Martin LaMonica)

In April, I shared with you the insight that the feeling many were feeling was “grief”: a pained sense of loss for the big and little things that have died in our everyday life. Indeed.

Now there are days when, rising in the morning, I find myself saying, “This whole pandemic thing is getting a little tedious.” Now for more than six months, what many of us are experiencing requires a new word – acedia.

As LaMonica observes, when the Zoom meetings have lost their novelty, Netflix is flat, and the daily news begins to taste like sawdust, this new word aptly describes our experience.

From the early 5th century, LaMonica draws on the monk/ theologian John Cassian who speaks of his being “seized” by this emotion. He feels “such bodily listlessness and yawning hunger as though he were worn by a long journey or a prolonged fast…Next he glances about and sighs that no one is coming to see him. Constantly in and out of his [monk’s] cell, he looks at the sun as if it were too slow in setting.”

It seems that the solitary monastic life urges on such feelings: how many of you are feeling that you are in a monk’s cell, going through the motions each day, eating alone, sliding into chips and cheese or PB&J just to avoid the tedium of preparing a solitary meal?

A constellation of factors pushes us into “that terrible sense that this thing I feel is mine alone.” Is this your experience? Now you have a word for it.

In a homily a few weeks ago, I recalled a horrifying video which caught a middle-aged woman going out onto her tenth-floor terrace, shouting for all the world to hear, “I am soooo lonely!”

LaMonica underscores the importance of “naming and expressing experiences [which] allows us to claim some agency in dealing with them.” I think he is right.

I would just add, if what you are feeling now – in addition to grief for what has died in our lives – sounds like acedia, then bring that to your prayer. Share it explicitly and by name with Jesus who walks with you in this pandemic. Each time your rise from your bed.

“I am soooo lonely,” the woman cried. I believe Jesus heard her. And hears you and me.

What do you think?

[For the next two weeks, I will be sharing with you some thoughts from Pope Francis’ new Special Letter (encyclical) Fratelli Tutti. I think it speaks to “acedia” as well as many other feelings we are experiencing right now.]


Hold in your prayer Pat Byrne’s mother, Martha, who fell into the arms of our loving God. May she rest in peace.

Close to 60 members of the Paulist Center Community are now journeying through the Faith and Racial Equity course. We hold each other in prayer. Their bold commitment will make us a better community.

Last Saturday night’s “Hope from Coast to Coast” Paulist Fathers’ Gala brought in more than $430,000. And much from Boston. Thank you so much.



BustedHalo, a Ministry of the Paulist Fathers, has together a short video (6 minutes) that presents an overview of what it means to be a Catholic and to vote. Here’s the link

And to show love and respect to one another during a contentious time, check this Golden Rule

Worshiping In-Person at the Paulist Center Chapel
(imperative if you will be worshiping with us) …

We have re-entered our Paulist Center Chapel. Please reserve a place for either the 5pm Mass on Saturday or the 10am on Sunday.

How to reserve a place?

Call the Center (617.742.4460) Wednesday through noontime Friday during business hours (10am-5pm).  Sal, our receptionist, will take your name and contact information (either email or phone number. We need this information so that we can contact you should we become aware, after the liturgy, of a person with Covid who attended your Mass).

Again, please read the Procedures carefully and watch the video [both links below]).  Of special note:

  • The doors open 10 minutes before the service.
  • Masks must be worn at all times in the Chapel.
  • Please follow the directions of the hospitality ministers when entering, exiting, and at communion.
  • Because central Boston is now in the “Red Zone,” we will be taking the temperature of everyone who enters the Chapel. Thank you for your understanding;
  • Once seated, please stay in place.
  • We invite you to hum along with the songs (no singing).


1) Here are the expectations and requirements: Procedures
2) A wonderful YouTube Video:


If you can assist with welcoming, seating, and directing people into and out of the Chapel, we would love to hear from you! If you are not in a vulnerable group with regard to COVID-19 and are willing and able to assist in this very important ministry, please contact Peter Ghiloni at


Linked In Prayer Opportunities with Your Community:

1.) 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, October 25, Live Streamed Liturgy/Mass from the Chapel, at 10am (available as recording at same link after 11:15pm):
Here’s the link:

2) Paulist Center Families Prayer Service, 10 am, Sunday
New Zoom meeting ID.  See the emailed weekly Missive from Fr. Mike McGarry for the link.

Please note that this service – to which all are invited – is only live. That is, you can join only at 10am. The recording of the live-streamed Mass can be viewed anytime: “live” at 10am or recorded any time after 11:15am, same link.

3)  Rosary Group: 7:30 pm, Monday.
Join Zoom Meeting at this link:
Meeting ID: 487 503 158
Passcode: 021078

4) All are welcome to a prayer gathering with/from the Paulist Center’s Young Adults Ministry next Wednesday, October 21st, 7pm. All are welcome!
See the emailed weekly Missive from Fr. Mike McGarry for the link and the Words to the Music.


Spreading the Wealth:

Our “Community Gift” is our tradition of giving away 5% of our weekend offerings, averaged out over the whole year, to a group outside of ourselves.

This week, we lift up Hearth. Hearth is dedicated to eliminating homelessness among the elderly. They accomplish this through a unique blend of prevention, placement, and housing programs – all designed to help elders find and succeed in homes of their own. Thank you!

We are so very grateful for your support during this time of uncertainly and financial peril. Here are two ways to give:

  1. To make a one-time or recurring donation using your bank account or credit card, click on the following link:
    Giving by text: Text 844-899-7511 with the amount you would like to donate (whole dollars only). Donations collected this way will be designated as part of the “Weekend Offering.”
  2. Giving by text: Text a whole dollar donation amount to 844-899-7511; this will be designated as your “Weekend Offering.”
An idea: Recently a few folks have made special contributions to help cover expenses for our live-streaming equipment. How thoughtful, how generous. What a great idea!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I conclude with the wise words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
Those who seek God shall
never go wanting.
Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
God alone fills us.

And let us pray for/with one another.

Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center

Along with Patty, Chuck, Susan, Peter, Dorothy, John, Barbara, Rob, Alvaro, and Sal. Please feel free to call upon your Pastoral Ministers if you wish.

I will be sending out something every Thursday or Friday as the “shut down” continues.