Seeker of Truth

For those who sincerely seek the truth, and only the truth. All are welcome, Christians, non-Christians, pagans, atheists, agnostics. etc. We hope you will find what you seek for.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The 7 Deadly Sins

The Church, through the ages, has discovered seven major weaknesses in men and women - known to us as the popular "Seven Deadly Sins". They are named as such because out of these seven primary sins, all other sins arise.

The seven deadly sins (known also as the "The Seven Vices" or the "Seven Capital Sins") are credited to an ancient Greek monastic theologian, named Evagrius of Pontus. The seven sins are (in no particular order): pride/vanity, anger, lukewarmness, lust, envy, greed, and gluttony.

God, in His love and mercy, has revealed to us "The Seven Virtues" through the Church. These seven virtues are antidotes against the seven sins/vices. These seven are:

1) Humility => Pride

2) Patience => Anger

3) Vigilance/Diligence => Lukewarmness

4) Chastity => Lust

5) Generosity => Greed/Avarice

6) Kindness => Envy

7) Abstinence => Gluttony

Humility is the source of all the virtues, just as pride is the source of all sins/vices.

Love, then, is the summation of all the virtues. And God is love.....

The "Seven Sins" in the common person are all rooted in the highest of all the seven sins - pride or vanity. Pride is the root of all the sins of men and women and is therefore the root of all evil.
The Seven Sins are:

1) Pride/vanity - defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as the "inordinate love for oneself". It is the cause of all sin and evil. The root of pride is man not subjecting himself to God's authority; of man's willful choosing of self over God.

It is that "thin line" between righteousness and self-righteousness.

It is clear that it is not wrong and only normal to love one's self. To love ourselves is self-preservation. What is wrong is to love ourselves too much, in an inordinate degree.

It becomes wrong when a person loves himself/herself so much that eventually, he or she loves himself/herself over God.

In all of mankind's history, there was never a sin no matter how small or great that did not have its root in pride or vanity. It is also therefore the most common sin.

Pride actually started not on Earth, but of all places, it started in Heaven! One of the highest ranked angels, Lucifer, was blessed by God with amazing gifts above most angels. He also possessed physical beauty, such as other angels looked up to him and music was said to accompany him wherever he was.

Instead of thanking God, this angel swelled up with pride and vanity at his God-given power and beauty. He eventually decided his power and gifts were not enough and desired to become as powerful as God Himself!

He tempted other angels in the process and had around 1/4 to 1/3 of the angels on his side. God chose a lower ranked angel, St. Michael the Archangel, to lead the majority of angels on God's side. St. Michael and the good angels defeated Lucifer and his evil angels in a great war.

God banished Lucifer and the evil angels out of Heaven, and straight into a dark pit called Hell. From that day forward, Lucifer's name became Satan. He and all the evil angels lost their natural angelic beauty and their sin corrupted their spirits forever.

It was Satan (in a serpent's form) that tempted our first parents to commit the first sin, "original sin", in the garden of Eden. Amazingly, he tempted them by a similar attack of
pride - he told Eve that she and Adam will become gods if they ate of the fruit forbidden by God. And they did.

The virtue that fights against pride/vanity is the highest virtue of all - humility. Since pride is the highest vice/sin, it is defeated by the greatest virtue, the virtue of humility.

Truly, humility is the hardest virtue to master. First, it is so hard to reach a certain level of humility. Second, assuming you do reach that level, it is so much harder to maintain it!

The truth is, in order to maintain a certain degree of humility much vigilance is needed. If you acquired a certain degree of humility at a certain moment, (say, right this moment) you will find that your humility level can go down as fast as a running cheetah. Just like that.

It is that hard. You really need to guard against pride as often as possible, as in every moment. It is hard but possible as the saints and holy people have shown us.

By our human strength alone, constant humility is impossible. But with God's grace (which we ask by prayer) it is indeed possible and necessary.

2) Anger - also known as "wrath". It is a sin that occurs when a person chooses hatred instead of love, resulting in a fury of emotions that overcome reason.

It is only justified when reason is still present when the strong emotions occur as the person does not lose control of himself/herself. Anger, if not tempered, can result in harm (physically or verbally) to another person who is the object of that hatred.

Anger is so common, it can occur right after we had a bad waking up in the morning!

How many times have we justified anger, saying "He/she caused me to lose my temper! It's only right I got mad." See the pride present in this self-righteousness example?

It's that pride that makes us prefer hatred 'instead of forgiveness or understanding. Hatred can turn into anger eventually. It's like a powder keg just waiting to be lit.

Of the "Seven Virtues", the virtue of "patience" is the antidote against "anger".

The more we understand or try to understand a person the more we become patient with that person.

As the popular Bible verse of St Paul says: "Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not keep a record of wrongs."

3) Lukewarmness - The sin of lukewarmness (or sloth) is defined by St Thomas Aquinas as "a form of sadness characterized by a lack of enthusiasm or fire in the accomplishment of spiritual works particularly those that demand more sacrifice".

It is neither being hot nor cold. A soul in lukewarmness is like a "living dead", doing duties without much love but out of obligation only. He/she lives life in a routine manner and possibly has forgotten what he/she is doing something for and why!

The lukewarm person lacks the love for God and this is the primary reason for lukewarmness.

The sad truth is that person may have started out strong, being very enthusiastic about serving God and others, praying, good works, etc.

But somewhere along the way, the person lost the "zeal", that fiery enthusiasm in doing good, and pretty much these things became routinary for him/her.

The fruits of lukewarmness are common indeed - sadness, laziness, taking our blessings for granted, taking people for granted, taking the gift of life for granted, etc.

From time to time, even the most persevering person is tempted to be lukewarm, lazy in his/her duties (spiritual duties, financial duties, family duties, livelihood duties, and all other duties).

Most people think it's only natural to be lukewarm from time to time. That's why they give in, because it is so common and they see other "lukewarm people". No, this is a grave error.

The key difference between the lukewarm person and the "diligent/vigilant person" is that the diligent person knows "lukewarmness" is one of the seven deadly sins and so guards against it constantly.

He/she knows lukewarmess/laziness is a "spiritual abnormality" in our soul and the spiritual life. If you love God enough more than yourself or anyone and anything, lukewarmness or any form of laziness can never overcome you at all in the first place.

From time to time we may fall to lukewarmness. Our sinful nature ("original sin" which was inherited from Adam and Eve) may defeat our nature as "children created in the image and likeness of God".

When this happens, we must do as the saints do when they sin. They immediately get back up from the fall of sin. They humble themselves and admit their sin, pray for forgiveness and go to confession. Basically, they never delay the repentance but act upon the sin as soon as possible.

And it works......

If God is the source of all love and true happiness can only come from love, how then can a person serve God in an authentic way and not be extremely happy doing it? It is impossible to love God and not be happy at the same time!

When lukwarmness occurs, there is a noticeable sadness that always takes place. This "sadness" is a major sign of lukewarmness. It can only occur when there is a lesser love for God somewhere in the process of service.

When Jesus Christ our Lord appeared to Saint Sister Faustina, He emphasized the hurt He feels from lukewarm souls. These are souls whom He has blessed but somehow, over time, they forgot God's blessings and the need to be grateful.

Two major reasons for lukewarmness:

1) We become less humble when we forget the blessings that were given us by God. To maintain our humility, constantly reminding ourselves (and others) of God's blessings is a must. Humility and gratefulness is the key to loving God more and more.

It is not only hard; it is impossible to love God (and others as well as yourself!) without humility and gratefulness. This is a universal law of God.

2) When we forget that life is short, we become vulnerable to lukewarmness. A person tends to lose the urgency of living a holy life - a prayerful life and accomplishing good works.

So the need for urgency is a major purpose in constantly meditating and reminding ourselves of the mortality of our lives. As Mama Mary said to the visionaries at Medjugorje "Never forget that your life is but a passing flower."

Of the seven virtues, the virtue that defeats lukewarmness is vigilance/dynamism.

4) Lust - The sin of lust is an abnormal desire for sexual immorality of the human body. Since our body is the temple of God the Holy Spirit Himself, this sin degrades the holiness of our bodies and makes it unsuitable for God to dwell within.

Lust is actually an idolatry - an idolization of the flesh, specifically idolization of the sexual/carnal pleasures of the body. In the Old Testament, the city of Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by God Himsef because the people there were caught up in various sins of lust.

St. Paul stated "Do you not know that your bodies are holy, and are the temple of God the Holy Spirit? He dwells within our body, so be aware of sexual immorality of the body. So use your bodies only for God's glory."

"Any other sin is a sin against others. But the sin of lust and immorality is a sin against one's own body."

As an analogy, God created food for us to be pleasurable and tasteful. However, the primary purpose of food is the well-being and nutritional needs of our body. The pleasure and taste serve only a secondary purpose.

Exactly the same principle can be applied to the gift of sex. Sex is a holy gift from God and He gave this to both men and women as a pleasurable means for procreation. But when men and women abuse this holy gift, they commit the sin of lust.

God's primary purpose for sex is for the great gift of procreation, no less than the creation of a new life. The pleasure in sex serves only a secondary purpose. Also, this sexual pleasure is only allowed for married couples.

The Church is also strict in only allowing the use of NFP or "natural family planning". So popular forms of contraceptives like condoms, pills, etc. are not allowed.

Lust, according to the teachings of the Church, has six types or species. These six are fornication, adultery, incest, seduction, rape, unnatural vice.

1) Fornication - is normal, but unlawful sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman . You see this trend nowadays in the modern world with colorful terms like "sexual promiscuity", "free sex", etc. all in the name of the so-called "sexual revolution".

The "modernization" of sex has produced an overly liberated view of the sexual act. The sexual act is seen as just any ordinary act which tends to justify sexual promiscuity or liberated sex activities between single, unmarried people.

The truth that sex is and has always been a holy, and therefore special act given by God Almighty Himself to both men and women is the first major flaw of "liberated sex". It cannot be treated as ordinary, like animals "doing it" anywhere on the street.

2) Adultery - is normal, but unlawful sex between a married person and a single person, or between two married people not married to each other.

We all know about stories regarding the sin of adultery in some poor couple's marriage. People we may know personally, whose marriages end up in disaster (or divorce?) when one of the partners (sometimes even both!) become unfaithful and cheat on the other.

Yeah, it's hard to be loyal to one partner, hey nobody said it's going to be easy. But when temptations to cheat do come, go back to basics and think back. "What made you become attracted to your partner?" Think of all the good times and hard times you had together. Think also of the "marriage vow" you both made in front of God and man.

Remember that no person or partner is perfect. It is said that a man starts cheating if he starts to look for the missing 10% his wife doesn't have. He may look for this in another woman.

The secret is this: Appreciate the 90% your wife already has, the good times you shared together and the bad times you endured together. Do this well, and you will fight the temptation to cheat everytime.

3) Incest - is the use of unlawful sex by a man and a woman who are related by ties of blood, or of affinity - that is, a relationship from a marriage.

It has all the terrible characters of lust, with the violation of justice (if either party is married) and violation of the holy virtue of piety.

Incest is so repugnant, it is taboo to even talk about it or mention it in ordinary human discussions. Most cultures around the world recognize its evil and disastrous effect on families and society as a whole.

To have sexual activity with someone of your blood is horrifying, to say the least. Yet, even in the Old Testament, one of King David's sons committed incest with his sister.

During World War 2, at the "Rape of Nanking" incident in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed in China, forced incestous acts occurred. The Japanese soldiers forced some Chinese family members to rape each other - fathers raping daughters, brothers raping sisters, etc. If they refused, their whole family was killed.

A similar incident occurred during the 1998 riots in Indonesia, under President's Suharto. Under threat of death, a Chinese family's members were also forced to rape each other - the father raping his daughter and the brother raping a sister.

4) Seduction - is the sexual violation of a virgin. It is a species of lust and is a grievous sin.

5) Rape - is the forceful sexual violation of a person. Violence used can often cause great physical and mental trauma to the victim, as well as death.

6) Unnatural vice - the lustful perversion of normal and natural sexual processes. It is considered the worst type of lust because it goes against the order of nature itself.

Unnatural vice includes lustful acts that can only be considered sodomistic: homosexuality (sexual acts w/ the same gender), bisexuality (sexual acts w/ both same and opposite genders), pedophilia (sex w/ children), bestiality (sex w/ animals), necrophilia (sex w/corpses), etc.

Remember also that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed by God (fireballs from the sky) because of the lustful, sodomistic acts the people did there. Specifically, the sin of homosexuality was prevalent.

Homosexuality has sadly increased its presence in our modern times. We're still in a state of shock at recent events of legalized "same-sex marriages" which started in San Francisco, USA, and is threatening to expand its evil in other areas of the US and the world.

Homosexuals have argued that the "definition" of marriage could include marital union between the same sex. Marriage is traditionally defined as "marital union between two people", and is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Homosexuals have wrongly argued that the statement "marital union between two people" can possibly include two people of the same gender. The Church has always maintained that only opposite genders are allowed to marry.

The Holy Bible is clear that God created both man and woman for marital union and sexual union, that God will never approve of same-sex unions or marriage.

Unbelievable. I never thought such an act was even possible. Same-sex marriage was never an issue a generation ago, as such a horrible thought was virtually unheard of!

But these are different times. The "culture of death" has caused the increase of homosexuality, as well as its other evil allies including increase in abortions, increase in divorce rates, increase in single motherhood, rise of radical feminism, and many others.

Homosexuality has to acknowledge its major flaws. The case against homosexuality:

1) If you believe that God is perfect (and He is), then you must trust Him that the gender He created you with right now is best for you. A perfect god will never make mistakes.

Homosexuals who blame God or who believe their current gender does not suit them, that they're better off as the opposite gender go against the truth that God is perfect.

2) As stated before, in the Holy Bible, God created only two genders at the garden of Eden. There is no such thing as a third sex/gender. Homosexuality is a sin, invented by men and women. It is not a normal part of creation, and is not of God's natural order. It is an abomination to God's perfect design.

3) Homosexuals who defend their acts of lust are clearly going against God's law, and are openly defying God Himself. It is an act of open rebellion, the cause of which is the source of all sin - pride.

Proud people choose to be their own god by making their own rules and not subjecting themselves to God's authority.

4) There's this deception that homosexuality is biological in nature, that therefore it is innate and cannot be changed. This is a big lie and many homosexuals fall into this trap. The tendency is to not fight homosexual feelings and behavior anymore in the belief that it is somehow "natural".

Don't. There's a lot of ongoing debate and research even right now on the causes of homosexuality but one thing is clear: there is no clear evidence that homosexuality is biological, genetic, hereditary or innate.

The evidence actually points more toward environmental factors being the cause of homosexuality, rather than biological ones. Usually, "father figure problems", lack of communicaton/closeness to a father or acceptance/bonding problems with members of the same gender.

Just look at babies and see that there is no discernible homosexual behavior. This is clear proof that homosexuality is not biological.

Of the seven virtues, the virtue that defeats lust is chastity.

5) Greed - is the inordinate desire for material/wealth or mental gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called avarice or covetousness.

Greed is more commonly known to occur in the greed for material gain. We call a person greedy or selfish when he/she is too possessive of material goods, money, property. We all know people like that, and we ourselves do fall to it as well - some more than others.

One of the direct fruits of greed is called "possessiveness" or "jealousy". Greed is usually associated with a person who has an inordinate desire for more - more money, more power, more things, etc. Possessiveness or jealousy is similar yet dfferent. It is an inordinate desire to retain or keep someone or something, even when it's time to let go. It is an inability to let go of someone or something, an over-attachment.

A possessive or jealous person is incapable of being generous to others, an unwillingness to share to other people.

So greed also occurs in the inordinate desire for more mental gain, a possessive or jealous type of greed.

The veteran superstar basketball player who bullies and downplays a new player in the team who shows talent is showing a mental greed. By refusing to be generous to others, he is showing a selfish attitude and greediness. He cannot take it when others outshine him or take his place.

Or a rich person who fears losing his life because he has become over-attached or possessive of money and worldly goods. He finds it hard to let go of his possessions and his life. Knowing life must end one day, he fears death like a plague.

The fear of loss can make one possessive. Say, in a man-woman relationship. The woman decides to break up with the man but the man cannot let go of her. He has become over-attached to her and feels he cannot live life without her.

Such possessiveness can lead to severe depressions, extreme sadness, health problems, etc. One must know how to let go when it's time to do so.

When you analyze the cause of greed, the desire for more even beyond reason and the unwillingness to let go when needed is related to too much love for oneself - in psychology, an over-inflated ego.

When one goes into greed, only one's own self is important. The love for God and others disappears. No one and nothing else matters but the self. The greedy person exists in a vacuum as if he or she were an island among people.

And sometimes envy can make people go into greed. When one feels that another person has more than him/her, that person can try to "match" the other person's possessions/achievements, to the point of acquiring more and more.

Of the seven virtues, the virtue that defeats greed is the virtue of generosity. By being more generous to others, the possessive nature of the self or our ego is restrained and overcome.

6) Envy/covetousness - is the desire for other people's traits, talents, possessions, status, achievements, etc. It is desiring something (or someone!) which someone has, but which the envious person lacks or doesn't have.

We all fall from time to time to the sin of envy. God, in His mercy and infinite generosity has blessed each and every person with exactly the right gifts. He gave us both strengths and weaknesses to make us truly unique. Thus, there is no excuse for envy.

No person is perfect. The person whom you envy could feel the same way towards you. Say, you envy someone for being a good singer (while you're only average in singing). Who knows? He/she could be envious of your great dancing skills, since he/she is a poor dancer.

The saying goes "You only want what you do not have."

Envy is a sin that says "God is not giving me enough, compared to other people". There is that constant need to compare yourself to others who you perceive are doing better than you. Hence the popular saying "Keeping up with the Joneses" is rooted in the sin of envy.

The envious person does not see his/her blessings from God, but only sees what others have. He/she has this "tunnel vision", and there is little or no gratefulness to God who gives all gifts. Thus, the grace of God is not seen or appreciated by a person in envy.

God is perfect. He does not make mistakes in giving the appropriate gifts to each person as He sees fit. The envious person is guilty therefore of accusing our perfect God of being unfair or impartial.

Envy can also make a person greedy. Thus we can say that envy can lead to greed/avarice, which is, like envy, also one of the seven deadly sins/vices. Say a person becomes envious of a neighbor wth a bigger house, he then strives to equal or surpass that person's achievement.

That envious person can be influenced by greed, as he aspires to acquire more and more money, goods, possessions. The sheer materialism can simpy overwhelm that person. And when one is greedy, one is also hesitant to give, to be generous to others. There's a fear of loss.

Envy can also lead a person into gluttony. Gluttony, like envy and greed, is also one of the seven deadly sins/vices.

Say, a person envies her friend's luxurious cars, this person over-works herself with endless hours of work. Eventually, she becomes a workaholic, a person addicted to work. Thus, the person falls into gluttony - a workaholic glutton.

Out of the seven virtues, the virtue that defeats envy is kindness. Kindness makes a person's envy go away because the person's eyes are opened to the truth of God's generosity to all His children.

No person is ever created perfect. The best tennis player may be a poor soccer player, the person with a sexy body may not be the most intelligent, the intellectual may not have good physical health, etc. We all have unique God-given gifts, strengths as well as weaknesses to balance.

In the end, no one can ever have an excuse to justify envy. When you're feeling envious, remember to be kind because God is kind to you and to others. Immediately think about what you have, what God has given you instead of what you do not have!

7) Gluttony - is defined as any activity that is obsessive in nature, an addiction that corrupts the soul. It is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one needs or requires.

This sin truly has one of the most varied forms ever known to man. When gluttony is mentioned, people usually associate it immediately with food addiction, or food gluttons. It is one of the most common forms of gluttony, but food gluttony is really just one among many other forms.

Basically, any activity we do that becomes too addicting or we become too obsessed about turns us into gluttons. Addiction/obsession is the trademark of gluttony.

The businessman who tries to be on top of his competitors works hard day and night. He loves his business, he loves working hard, he loves the challenge, and of course he loves the happiness of success, the thrill of every sale and euphoric feeling.

It doesn't mean businessmen are all workaholics, but a lot of them are. It is perfectly normal to enjoy your business or your work, but you have to be careful. Too much obsession with work, business or with sucess itself can lead to workaholism.

The key is balance. We have to lead a more balanced life. It can't be all work, and it can't be all play either.

The teenager who tries to "fit in", experiments with narcotic drugs. It starts with doing it for the fun of it, to be accepted by her peers, to shrug off peer pressure, and to be "cool".

Small doses turn to bigger ones. Marijuana turns to stronger drugs, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, etc. Before she even realizes it, she is a drug addict, a drug glutton.

A man, out of work, turns to TV viewing as an outlet, an escape from the harsh reality of not having a job. The normal viewing of a few hours turns into hours and hours of more viewing. Eventually, he becomes a "couch potato", a TV addict.

Or the elderly woman who, out of boredom, tries to spice up life by playing games at the casino. She enjoys herself too much and goes back everyday for more. She becomes a gambling addict.

One thing common in all addicts/gluttons is most of them are in a "state of denial". You tell them about their addiction and they deny it. It is hard for their ego to accept the reality of it.

Of the seven virtues, the virtue that defeats gluttony is abstinence. By abstaining from something we like or some activity we like, we make a sacrifice. We do not easily give in to what we want.

Without abstinence and sacrifice, we can become "slaves of our passion", like an animal only following its instinct without any self-control or discipline.