Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back to Basics: The Seven Deadly Sins

The opposite of the cardinal virtues are the seven deadly sins. We'll be going through these one by one, as well as the virtues that remedy each, in future posts.
As you may have guessed, along with cultivating good habits, some bad habits need to be avoided. The Church maintains that seven vices in particular lead to breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments. These particular bad habits are called the seven deadly sins because, according to Catholicism, they're mortal sins -- sins that kill the life of sanctifying grace. The Church believe that if you commit a mortal sin, you forfeit heaven and opt for hell by your own free will and actions.

A mortal sin is any act or thought of a human being that turns away from God and which turns toward a created thing instead. In other words, mortal sin is the complete turning away from God and embracing something else in place... Three conditions are necessary for moral sin to exist.
  • Grave Matter: the act itself is intrinsically evil and immoral. For example, murder, rape, incest, perjury, adultery, and so on are grave matter.
  • Full Knowledge: The person must know that what they're doing or planning to do is evil and immoral...
  • Deliberate Consent: The person must freely choose to commit the act or plan to do it. Someone forced against his will doesn't commit a mortal sin...
Venial sins are any sins that only meet one or two of the conditions needed for a mortal sin but do not fulfill all three at the same time, or they're minor violations of the moral law, such as giving an obscene gesture to another driver while in traffic. Venial sin is less serious than mortal sin...[they] aren't deadly to the life of grace, but like minor infections in the body, if casually ignored and left untended, may deteriorate into a more serious condition...

The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, and sloth and Pope Gregory the Great made up the list in the 6th century.
Catholicism For Dummies by John Trigilio
Recommended reading: Back to Virtue by Peter Kreeft. He examines the virtues in depth and also looks specific virtues and Beatitudes as antidotes to each of the seven deadly sins. Not a new concept but one that he writes about superbly (as always).

Next up: Deadly Sin #1.

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