Upon reflecting on the seven deadly sins the reality of why they are called deadly became readily evident. These sins are called deadly because they lead the soul away from God, killing our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. In our lives we are either moving toward God in faith and obedience or are moving away from God through sin. We are either disposing ourselves to Gods will or are removing ourselves from Gods will.
The seven deadly sins and their characteristics, as listed by http://www.catholic.org, are as follows,
1. Pride – The unrestrained appreciation of ones own worth. Pride is the sin of believing that we are who we are through our own doing, not recognizing that we owe all to God as our creator and all that we have we owe to Him.
2. Greed – Is listed as the immoderate desire for earthly goods. The sin of greed makes one uncaring and unaware of the needs of others while one hordes resources beyond ones needs.
3. Lust – The hankering for impure pleasures. The sin of lust is as Saint Paul says the sin of the body the “temple of God” where one defiles that temple with desires that are fleeting and leave one becoming more worldly rather than moving toward the Kingdom of God.
4. Anger – Inordinate desire for revenge. Anger is a response that we all have to certain conditions, the sin occurs when this feeling overwhelms us so much that we dwell on how we can get even or back at the other. But this sin can be brought down to a finer level and that is how we react in situations that we encounter everyday. This particular sin is one that I am working on myself. How I react to drivers who recklessly endanger the lives of others, people who arrogantly ignore the rights of others for their own selfish gain emote in me an anger that I know is not good for my soul. I have been trying to replace this response with prayer for the person but it is something that I have to continue work on.
5. Gluttony – Unrestrained use of food and drink. While the normal conception of this sin is the concept of overeating or drinking to excess there is another form of gluttony that some of us fall into, this is the gluttony of particularity. The gluttony of particularity is when one behaves as though they do not want much while demanding much of others. Some examples of this type of behavior sre when someone is brought a portion of food they exclaim oh take it away I do not want that much food half of that would be ok for me. Or the one who states that all I want is a cup of tea properly brewed and a piece of toast, toasted just right, leaving the one who serves the task of guessing what a properly brewed tea and how the person likes their toast and the feeling of inadequacy when the person does not like what they are served.
6. Envy – Sorrow over another’s good fortune. This sin is one that a person can easily fall into especially when one is in difficult times. The success of another sometimes seems unfair but we must remember that worldly possessions are not what we are here for, but rather to work for our final heavenly reward.
7. Sloth – Laxity in keeping the Faith and the practice of virtue, due to the effort involved. Basically this is a sin of laziness of spirit, not allowing the spirit of our soul to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in an active life for God.
After defining the 7 deadly sins it is appropriate to point out the opposites of them and the positive activities or habits that one can use to combat falling into these sins.
1. The opposite of pride is humility and it is only by practicing humilities that one can gain this virtue.
2. The opposite of greed is Generosity (the story of my friend giving the shirt off of his back and the joy that gave him).
3. The opposite of lust is actually love, pure love that is a participation in the Love that is God and returned to Him and shared with our fellow man.
4. The opposite of anger is forgiveness, the simple act of allowing the forgiveness of some insult or injury that is sometimes so difficult but necessary for our souls.
5. The opposite of gluttony is prudence which is the virtue of not only knowing when enough is enough but also knowing when our particularities are infringing on the freedom and feelings of others.
6. The opposite of envy is joy. Sharing in the good fortune of others rather than being jealous.
7. The opposite of sloth is the active life of faith, joining our spirit with that of God’s in faithful practice and devotion to Him.
In the end, all of these sins are things that we do in order to fill a void in our lives, to fill this void with worldly things. The basic problem is this void can not be filled with anything worldly because it is a hole in our souls that can only be filled by God because He created us for the yearning of Him. When we try and fill this void with anything but Him we end up needing more and more that takes us further and further away from what we really are yearning for. The more that we realize that the yearning that we are experiencing in our lives is really for God and the knowledge of Him the more we will grow in God’s grace. The Sacraments are given to us by the Lord in order to help us turn away from these sins and to fill our souls with God. Reconciliation and the Eucharist are both excellent ways to bring ones self closer to the lord and move away from these worldly sins. Through Reconciliation we are given a “fresh start” and a freedom of heart to begin anew and through the Eucharist we are filled with Christ Himself and conform ourselves more and more to His will.
Your servant in Christ,