St John Bosco’s quotes on idleness are extremely applicable to the current times.
During the 2020 lockdowns and ensuing George Floyd protests, it became painfully clear to a lot of people that the lockdowns contributed to the civil unrest.
The original protests were just. The world watched the video of George Floyd’s death and condemned it in unison. The world cheered as the cop who caused his death was arrested.
But then something changed and it became apparent, as the protests became violent, that the daily protests were an opportunity for young people to release some energy that had been bottled up during the lockdown. When this energy finally found an outlet, it was explosive.
What do you get when you lock down young men who have no way to expend their energy? You lock up the gyms, you stop them from going to school, you eliminate every outlet they have to release this energy? Chaos and anarchy.
Many Saints warn against idleness and the importance of keeping busy. St John Bosco, who truly understood how to serve young people, constantly reminded them to keep busy and flee idleness.
St John Bosco Quotes on Idleness
1) “Idleness is the door for temptation.”
Infidelity and idleness have an unfortunate link. When adulterers were asked why they were unfaithful to their spouses, 71% of unfaithful men and 49% of unfaithful women cited boredom.
Boredom leads you look for excitement outside of your state in life.
Spending a lot of time on the internet poses a risk of chatting with strangers, of the opposite sex, which can lead you to sin, if you are not on your guard.
Infidelity is just one temptation that can arise from idleness. You can be tempted to indulge in sins of impurity, thievery, rash decisions and anything that will satisfy your thirst for excitement.
2) “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
This quote is based on Proverbs 16:27:
“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.”Douay Rheims Bible
If your mind is not kept busy by engaging in work, teaching and playing with your children, or on cultivation of virtue through sermons or spiritual reading, then your thoughts can easily drift to inappropriate fantasies.
Imagine the kind of thoughts that can go through your head when you’re bored. Thoughts like:
- I have some juicy gossip to tell my girlfriend.
- I wonder if my FB friend Jenny is online? She makes me feel like a man.
- How can I get even with Bob for getting the promotion I wanted?
- I wish my wife were as feminine as John’s wife.
- My husband is lazy and doesn’t make enough money.
- I’m tired of my kids.
- No one appreciates me.
It’s important to stay focused and and not allow any untoward thoughts to enter your mind by keeping busy.
3) “Idleness is the father of all vices.”
According to a study by by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, teenagers who are “frequently bored” increase their chances for substance abuse by 50 percent.
In another Australian study, it was found that young people who report that they have high levels of boredom also use alcohol and drugs frequently.
During this pandemic, the use of porn has increased tremendously. Although indulgence in these vices does tend to occur during pandemics, “leisure boredom”, which occurs when an individual cannot find anything to do that would attract his or her interest, also causes an increase in porn consumption as well as masturbation.
4) “Boys should be kept constantly occupied.”
“After they are through with their school or shop duties we should entice them to join the choir, the band, or the Knights of the Altar. This will keep them busy. If we do not give them something to think about their minds will turn to unwholesome thoughts.”St John Bosco
If you have teenagers, it’s extremely important that they be kept busy, whether through sports and other activities, and/or by assigning them chores. Structure is important.
St John Bosco recognized that boys, especially need to stay busy, not just with physical activity, but with also parish activity, like serving as altar boys.
Young males often seek outlets where they can be expend their energy, like sports. When they don’t find those outlets, they create their own inappropriate opportunities for aggression.
Is it any surprise, we have such havoc in our society during this lockdown and resulting unemployment?
5) “Your greatest enemy is idleness: fight it without let up.”
It should be clear by now that idleness is in fact one of our greatest enemies, because you become tempted to seek leisure in ways that might be sinful. But what if you are prone to idleness?
How to avoid long periods of idleness?
The first thing you should do is read this article on how to overcome sloth.
If you find yourself always being bored, consider following a daily schedule of tasks you need to complete. . This will give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and will keep you busy so you won’t have time to get bored.
Here are some other ideas:
- Work in the garden.
- Play with your children and use the time as teaching moments.
- Read classic novels.
- Do spiritual reading. No time spent on working towards union with God, goes to waste, unless you are neglecting the duties of your state in life.
- Do not neglect the duties of your state in life. Therlots of stuff to do around the house to keep you busy – men and women.
- Want to stream a television series? Be careful of mindless binging. Avoid watching shows during the day, when you can be busy engaging in other types of active leisure. One way to avoid binging is to decide beforehand how many episodes you’re going to watch and stick to that. You can also watch a show close to your bedtime so that you are not tempted to watch it all day.
- Men, get physical! Learn how to work with wood and build something! There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you woodworking if you are not a pro.
- Women, learn a new recipe, or learn how to sew or do other projects that will embellish your home.
- Volunteer at a food pantry or at your parish.
- If you’re technical, learn a new programming language.
- Mentor a child in the inner city.
- Go on a hike or a drive to a new area. We love exploring new parks for our rosary walks.
What do you do when you’re bored?
Combating Sin Resources
- Free Ebook: More Than Single: Finding Purpose Beyond Porn
- The Imitation of Christ
- Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales
- The Sinner’s Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada
- The Spiritual Combat
- Spiritual Theology by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P.
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