Lenten Series: The Seven Deadly Sins
We admit that shadows lurk within our hearts. "I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Romans 7:18)
The terms "sin" and "vice," often used interchangeably, are not really identical. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices are character traits. Like virtue, vices are developed through habit and practice and produce a personīs basic disposition.
Itīs too easy to divide good and evil between we good guys and those bad guys, when, as Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." In the privacy of our own consciences, we admit that shadows lurk within our hearts, the concupiscence that makes sin appear to be an attractive choice. Our motives are always mixed. Like St. Paul, we lament, "I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Romans 7:18)
The desert fathers meditated long and hard on the human condition. Pope St. Gregory the Great, building upon the work of Evagrius and St. John Cassian, devised the list of what we call today The Seven Deadly sins. Sin, however, is not quite the right term for these deadly traits in the depths of our souls.
The terms "sin" and "vice," often used interchangeably, are not really identical. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices are character traits. Like virtue, vices are developed through habit and practice and produce a personīs basic disposition. (The Catechism Glossary and #1813, 1866, 1849, 1853, 1854 offer the proper definitions of virtue, vice and sin.)
All sin is less a violation of law than an attack on communion. It always involves two things: a violation or distortion of human nature and a betrayal of communion with God. A character rooted in vice, produces acts in accordance with that vice. Similarly a virtuous character produces good fruit (see Matthew 7:16-20).
These seven vices or, as we know them, Seven Deadly Sins are the fountainhead of many of the sins we commit in our lives. When not rooted out and replaced by virtue, they can indeed kill the soul. Upon death, a personīs basic character is permanently set either towards God or against Him.
During Lent, the Church invites us to engage in what is traditionally called "spiritual combat" against these deadly character traits wherever they have found safe harbor in our hearts. Not that we engage in this struggle alone. We depend on Godīs grace and mercy to aid us at every step.
This series will offer brief meditations on each of the seven deadly sins. Following Evagriusī lead, we begin with the grosser, more materialistic sins of lust and gluttony and move up to avarice, sloth, anger, envy and finally to the crowning and most spiritual sin of pride.
Jeri Holladay writes from Wichita, Kansas, where she has been Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center of the Diocese of Wichita, Associate Professor of Theology, Chairman of the Theology Department and founding Director of the Bishop Eugene Gerber Institute of Catholic Studies at Newman University. She teaches moral theology and church history and is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal: Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- Led by the Spirit into the Desert: God Does Not Need Lent, We Do
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting: The Three Pillars of Lent
- When Did We See You Hungry? Lent and the Love of Preference for the Poor
- A Barren Heart: God is in the Desert
- Contemplatives in the World: Learning to Pray During the Forty Days of Lent
- 3 goals of Lent: Change, conversion and new beginning
- What it Means to be a Child of God: Lenten Reflection on Human Suffering
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 3/5/2015
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/5/2015
This ancient practice of setting aside 40 days in order to enter - in Jesus - into the desert places in our own daily lives and confront the temptations and struggles we face - is a gift. It ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/4/2015
The option or love of preference for the poor. This is an option or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity to which the whole tradition of the church bears witness. It ...Continue Reading
Wendy C. RN., BA. - Catholic Online, 3/4/2015
'Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face...' (Matthew 6:1-18) LOS ANGELES, CA - Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »