Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 7 Deadly Sins

I attended a talk yesterday during the Living Stones Campus Outreach (LSCO) prayer meeting on 'the 7 Deadly Sins' given by Bryan Shen, a lay missionary.

Surprisingly (or not), there was no brimstone and hellfire - instead, Bryan prefaced his talk with the link between psychology, psychiatry and counselling.
Psychiatry = physical abnormalities that affect the mind
Psychology = whatever that affects the psyche (everything subconcious)
Counselling = coping with all the issues in life.

all these 3 elements overlap, and Bryan remarked that often those who have been wounded deeply seek to be in the helping/healing ministry as they have the greatest potential to be healers.
BUT the Devil prevents them from doing so by being The Bearer of False Light (as Lucifer's name meant Bearer of Light).

indeed the work of Evil is to convince us that WRONG is not WRONG, while RIGHT is boring, old-fashioned, unusuble or just plain old wrong.

Evil = Fun and Humour (?!)

now wait a minute, it's actually the OBSESSION with fun that's problematic - as Satan wants us to feel light hearted so that we will not feel the weight of our sin/wrongdoing. while this was a good concept to start off with, somewhere along the line the Church descended into strict penances and bans on laughter and gaiety.
finally St Philip Neri stood up and said 'Laughter has its own good but use it carefully'.

so what ARE the negative effects of excessive fun/humour/laughter?
  • the inability to know the difference between funny and wrong
  • removes the weight of wrongs done
  • increases insensitivity
  • increases irresponsibility
  • more crucially, it hurts the growth of maturity - unable to understand, reflect and contemplate - clarity of thought remains infantile/undeveloped ...
Ref Luke 6:25 ' Alas for you who are laughing now; you shall mourn and weep'

Sin = anything (action, thought, belief, practice, habit, influence etc) that prevents you/another person from reaching your/their highest/divine Potential.

therefore, evil pulls us in the opposite direction of fulfilling our highest/divine Potential.

Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Lord wishes to share His wisdom and understanding with us in order to counter the attacks of evil.
"A Christology that ignores Satan is crippled and will never understand the magnitude of redemption" - Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist in Rome.
we are either being sabotaged or aware of being in a state of spiritual warfare and battling actively.

Now on to the 7 Capital/Deadly Sins
  1. Gluttony
  2. Lust
  3. Avarice
  4. Sloth/Despondency
  5. Anger
  6. Pride
  7. Envy
and the 7 Contrary Virtues

  1. Chastity
  2. Temperance
  3. Charity
  4. Diligence
  5. Patience
  6. Contentment
  7. Humility
Lust - Luxuria/Scheming - the opposite would be Chastity, Honesty, Congruence, Purity;
Gluttony - letting loose - the opposite virtue would be Temperance, Self control, Moderation;
Greed - the hoarding of wealth and resources - go for Charity instead;
Sloth - Acedia - not doing what should be done, either physically or spiritually out of laziness or disinterest or doing something else - Spiritual Diligence is the counterpart of sloth;

* in this respect, Boredom can be dangerous as it pushes us to do things which are fun but dangerous without knowing the difference!
it is even worse when a person's deep internal self worth is damaged.
contrast with if after doing a tedious task, you feel satisfied, that's Spiritual Diligence, the sense of accomplishment, of being able to complete a task and overcome drudgery. *

Wrath = internalized low self worth - it's addictive
Repeated abuse leads to putting the blame on someone else, keeping you from facing feelings of sadness and enabling them to avoid crying/showing vulnerability.
Internalized low self worth is balanced by finding external manifestations of worth by cultural/social standards i.e. you look fine, but inside you're not!


  • stubborn urge for service and increased busyness to the point of being unable to say No even when overstretched;
  • the increased irritability at the moral imperfections of others - resulting in condemnation and so-called 'justifiable anger';
  • inconsistent drive and energy - praise drives the momentum of service - no praise, no service!
  • increased confusion and suspicion when counsel is given
  • naturally - increased politicking ... AND
  • any good works done are not blessed by GOD!
Envy/Prejudice/Contempt - try this on for size instead : - Contentment/Kindness/Compassion

In the final analysis - we are to root sin out of our own hearts, and to become a witness to God to teach others not to sin.


My first thought after hearing all this was the immediate sensation of being caught in so many acts of wrongdoing - as if this list of 7 sins were booby traps and minefields placed by a God who demanded nothing less than survival by avoiding them.

but then i thought again - if we were to see these instead as the many varied ways in the which the Evil One can attack us and draw us away from the love of God, then it might be easier to be conscious of them and to ask for His grace in facing up to daily temptations. It is not that God created these, but that the absence of God in the presence of Evil has made them come about.

when we ponder more deeply on the depth of love our Creator has for us, it begins to make sense that sin is a rupture in the relationship we have with Him.
St Augustine put it so beautifully : "If you but love God you may do as you incline".

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