All sin distances us from God. When we sin, we tell God, “I want it my way, not Your way.”
The Seven Deadly Sins
The seven deadly (or ‘capital’) sins are “deadly” in that they are the source from which other sins flow. All sin distances us from God, and the capital sins do it in serious ways. When we sin, we tell God, “I want it my way, not Your way.”
As soon as we are willing to ask for God’s forgiveness and empty ourselves of our sin, God can come in to fill the void in our hearts that sin creates. Archbishop Fulton Sheen says, “As sin is an aversion to God, grace is the conversion to God. Our Lord does not say, ‘I told you, you would fall.’ He does not desert us though we desert Him. He turns, once we know we are sinners. God never gives us up.” Think about Peter and his denial of Christ in the Gospel. Peter sinned, but he repented, and was able to live out the extraordinary plan God had for his life.
Learning about the sins that trip us up and cause us to desert God can help raise our awareness of them in our lives.
What Are The Seven Deadly Sins?
Pride is a tough struggle for all of us. Pride is the capital sin of the capital sins. All sins flow from pride. In fact, it was pride that made the devil turn away from God and Adam fall into original sin. Pride can be very destructive. That means that if we can get pride under control in our lives, then we will be able to work on ridding ourselves of other sins with much greater ease.
What is pride?
Pride is self-assertion, selfishness, the inordinate desire for your own excellence, undue self-love or self-esteem, the over appreciation of your own worth. Pride sets you in competition with God.
Living with pride
Pride leads us to do crazy things. When we are living with pride, we may enjoy taking credit and seeking attention/recognition for accomplishments or talents, try to minimize our defects in front of others (or magnify others’ defects), hold ourselves superior to others, be given to stubbornness or vanity or want to be known as the “holy one.” But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that pride brings and the damage it can cause to you, others, and your relationship with God. You can treat your pride by working on the virtue that helps temper our pride: humility.
How do I treat my pride?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: humility.
St. Paul calls greed the “root of all evil.” It is natural to desire earthly goods and money in order to live well, but greed takes this desire to an immoderate level, making goods and money into gods.
What is greed (also known as avarice)?
Greed, or avarice, is the disordered love of riches or earthly goods. Money and possessions take an improper role in the life of a greedy person. The greedy person likely sees earthly goods and wealth not as instruments, but as ends in themselves.
Living with greed
Living with greed reorients our priorities in a backward way. It may cause us to hoard money or be overly concerned with growing in wealth, care too much about the quality and quantity of our possessions (perhaps always wanting the newest gadget or clothing line, etc.), and make us not want to share our wealth with those in need. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that greed brings and the damage it can cause to you and your relationship with God. You can treat your greed by working on the virtue that helps temper our greed: generosity.
How do I treat my greed?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: generosity, liberality.
Anger as an emotion is not sinful; it is neutral, as all emotions are. But, when the force of the will is added, anger can quickly become sinful. When the will tells the emotion of anger to rise irrationally (and ultimately flourish out of control), it becomes a ‘deadly’ sin.
What is anger?
Anger is the inordinate desire to punish or seek revenge. Anger is a passion, and passions are neutral, so anger can be bad or good depending on how it is used. (Jesus got angry in a good way!) When anger is used in a vengeful way, it is a vice—or capital sin.
Living with anger
Many of us know what it’s like to experience out-of-control anger. We may exhibit a short temper, be given to unreasonable outbursts, or seek revenge. If these ‘symptoms’ pop up regularly in your life, than you might have particular struggles with anger. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that anger brings and the damage it can cause to your relationships. You can treat your anger by working on the virtue that helps temper our anger: forgiveness, “meekness.”
How do I treat my anger?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: forgiveness, meekness.
Sloth is a very modern sin in that our current culture probably exhibits this in a far stronger way than past cultures have. Dr. Peter Kreeft explains sloth as “joylessness when faced with God as our supreme joy.” Sloth robs us of our hunger for God. It is a deadly sin of indifference. Sloth is depressing because it keeps us from seeking God, without whom we cannot find true happiness in life!
What is sloth (also known as acedia)?
Sloth is a laxity in the effort to grow in virtue and faith, a lack of spiritual effort, laziness. A slothful person sees growing in virtue as too much work, so he simply doesn’t try and eventually doesn’t really care.
Living with sloth
Sloth can exhibit itself in our lives when we slack off in our attempts to become a better person, ignore God’s call to grow deeper in faith, or neglect prayer and Scripture reading. Sloth is a big roadblock to our growing in holiness and happiness. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that sloth brings and the damage it can cause to you and your relationship with God. You can treat your others by working on the virtue that helps temper our sloth: zeal.
How do I treat my sloth?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: zeal, diligence.
Envy is competitive. Unlike other sins that grant very temporary satisfaction to someone, envy doesn’t ever bring someone pleasure. It removes joy, brings pain, and leads to other sins…the worst being hatred. The prideful person often finds himself arriving here: at envy. But the good news is that you don’t have to be chained down by envy any more.
What is envy?
Envy is the resentment or sorrow at the good fortune of another. Envy can be dangerous, in that while jealousy seeks to possess, envy seeks to destroy.
Living with envy
If you’ve ever experienced envy, you know how unhappy and on-edge it makes you. Envy causes is to find other people’s successes threatening, have a “grass is always greener” attitude that becomes destructive to our own happiness, and to wish misfortune on others who are more prosperous. Envy can even cause us to get annoyed with those who are more virtuous than we are. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that envy brings and the damage it can cause to you and your relationship with God. You can treat your envy by working on the virtue that helps temper our envy: admiration, brotherly love, solicitude.
How do I treat my envy?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: admiration, brotherly love, solicitude.
Gluttony may not seem like a deadly sin to many at first glance, especially if you can easily think of a half a dozen times in recent history when you overate or drank immoderately. But the reality is that gluttony can be deadly when it turns us away from our ultimate focus, God. Gluttony is an addiction, and addiction is an element of all sin, and sin keeps us from growing in relationship with God.
What is gluttony?
Gluttony is the unrestrained consumption or overindulgence in food or drink. Gluttony is opposed to moderation.
Living with gluttony
Gluttony leaves you feeling pretty lousy, as all sin tends to do. You may experience gluttony in your life by always eating or drinking without waiting for others, being excessively picky about the food you eat, eating or drinking in excess, depriving yourself of enough food or drink (anorexia or bulimia), or eating too quickly or greedily. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that gluttony brings and the damage it can cause to you and your relationship with God. You can treat your gluttony by working on the virtue that helps temper our gluttony: temperance.
How do I treat my gluttony?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: temperance.
Lust is considered one of the seven deadly sins. The fact that the culture tries to make it not one, under the proposal that “lust doesn’t hurt anyone,” does not change its damaging nature to our souls and lives. Lust is a very popular sin and it blinds the mind. Like other sins, we really need to understand how lust hurts us in order to avoid it.
What is lust?
Lust is the disordered desire for or indulgence in impure sexual pleasure. Lust seeks sexual pleasure outside of its proper context of marriage.
Living with lust
Lust enslaves us to our passions. It can lead us to dress immodestly to gain attention, use artificial birth control, have sex outside of marriage or use sex for pleasure only, look impurely at another man or woman, or fall into other dangers habits that damage or demean our dignity and the dignity of others. But there is good news. Through prayer and some hard work, you can free yourself from the heavy burdens that lust brings and the damage it can cause to you, others, and your relationship with God. You can treat your lust by working on the virtue that helps temper our lust: chastity.
How do I treat my lust?
By cultivating its opposing virtue: chastity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification…” (CCC 1030-1031).
Scripture teaches us that nothing unclean will enter God’s presence in heaven (Rev 21:27). Purgatory provides us with the opportunity to be cleansed of our impurities, so we may be made holy to see the Lord (Heb 12:14).
Regular confession is one of the means to help us on our journey toward sanctity, to help us avoid time in Purgatory.