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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

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.


WITCHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel prize winner and long-term prisoner of the Russian Gulag, said that "the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man."

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.

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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.

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.

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1 - 10 of 46 Comments

  1. Alex
    3 years ago

    Do you folks really believe all this? Don't you ever stop and think?

  2. Ella De Guzman
    4 years ago

    Life now a days was really tough... too difficult to understand,but when you truly seek God within your heart,you will experience He's divine plan for you,everything will fall into places and smoothly runs thru you>>>Continously pray and sometime try to meditate and listen to what He has to say on you,me browzing to this website was only accidental but God truly leads me and directs me to the right path,as this is all applicable to everyone...Be God be praised>>>

  3. Richard Tan
    4 years ago

    It is good or bad to have so many denominations?
    Why christians cannot come together as one body ?

  4. Frank John Kupferer
    4 years ago

    I really appreciated this article because I still have problems remembering all 7 of the deadly sins. Thank You!

  5. sylvester
    4 years ago

    This sin soil's both spiritual and personal life thanks for pointng it out for one to be able to avoid.

  6. Thankful
    4 years ago

    Thanks be to God that we have the 7 sacraments, and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the 7th day of the week to rest and meditate on these things. God counters 7 evil venom bites with 7 cures, and 7 more cures, and 7 more, and so on. He really does forgive us 7 times 7 times... when we get that, we want to do the same to those we may have sinned against!!.

  7. Carol Droog
    4 years ago

    The article on the Seven Deadly sins is fantastic. I never forgot them.
    Carol

  8. J
    4 years ago

    Those sins are poisonous like a black mamba snake. Highly toxic! If more Catholics knew they would try thier best to avoid those snakes and not get bit.

  9. Alberto
    5 years ago

    God bless you and help you Marcia.

  10. Nancy
    5 years ago

    First, I am so happy to have found "Catholic Online" and have shared it with friends. The "seven deadly sins" unfortuately have been forgotten by many even good Catholics. I, for one, will focus on them and have an examination of conscience to make a good confession during Lent. In the article it mentions good and evil within all of us and the power that wins is what we feed.


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