When Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina, He told her:
The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.
Father Jean d’Elbee’s words bring comfort, too:
And if you give Him your many miseries with great humility and confidence, then you give Him His great joy—His joy of being Savior.
We must be convinced of the profundity and horror of sin, not to fall into despair, but rather to discover the full opportunity of grace and mercy that is available to us. To be fully healed and to receive the fullness of grace offered to us by the Merciful Christ, we must first acknowledge our sin.
Sin is horrific, yet let us always remember in joyful hope that it is Jesus who takes away the sin of the world. Romans 5:20 proclaims, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Christ’s mercy is always available to us through the Church and the Sacraments.
What is Sin?
To better appreciate and accept the mercy offered to us through Christ, we must admit our faults. That’s why it is so important for us to know what sin is, so that we may realize its deadening effects and continually strive for conversion. When we identify sin, we are able to remove it.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sin as, “an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’ Sin is an offense against God and sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.” (CCC 1849, 1850)
Sins are distinguished according to their objects, the virtues they oppose, and the commandments they violate. There are different kinds of sins, namely mortal sin and venial sin.
Yet all sin is like the first sin. All sin is disobedience.
Our Church has identified seven capital sins, often referred to as “deadly sins,” because they each give rise to other sins.
Following Saint Paul’s proclamation to the Romans, our Church in her wisdom does not leave us without remedy. Grace abounds all the more with the seven lively virtues that combat and assist us in the triumph over the seven capital sins.
The Catechism teaches us that:
A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.
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The Seven Deadly Sins
- Pride // When man aims higher [supra] than he is, because he wishes to appear above what he is. (Summa Theologiae)
- Avarice // An inordinate love of riches, an immoderate love of possessing. (Summa Theologiae)
- Envy // The sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. (CCC 2539)
- Wrath // A desire for revenge, evil is found in wrath when one is angry more or less than right reason demands. (CCC 2302, Summa Theologiae)
- Lust // Disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. (CCC 2351)
- Gluttony // An inordinate desire for eating and drinking. St. Gregory the Great says gluttony occurs when we consume food and drink, “hastily, sumptuously, too much, greedily, or daintily.” (Summa Theologiae)
- Sloth // To refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness. (CCC 2094)
The Seven Lively Virtues
- Humility // A humble man is someone inclined to the lowest place. (Summa Theologiae)
- Charity // The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. (CCC 1822)
- Kindness // A fruit of the Holy Spirit. Mercy, compassion, grief for another’s distress. (Summa Theologiae)
- Forgiveness // Pardon or remission of an offense. (CCC 976)
- Chastity // The successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. (CCC 2337)
- Temperance // The moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion. (CCC 1809)
- Fortitude // The moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. (CCC 1808)
Strive to Live A Virtuous Life
Saint Gregory of Nyssa said that the goal of the virtuous life is to become like God.
Sisters, let us have heaven as a goal and live like Heaven as a goal. Let us recognize the horror of sin, identify the sins in our own life, seek God’s mercy and grace made ever-available to us in the Sacraments and Church, and then extend that same mercy to others.
Our lives will transform and we will become, “like God.”
Resources and Ideas for Leading a Virtuous Life
- Make an act of contrition and receive the Sacrament of Confession regularly. Schedule it in! When we are in a state of grace we are able to recognize sin more clearly and strive to avoid it.
- Find an experienced spiritual director.
- Participate in daily Mass.
- Watch this video by Bishop Barron. He beautifully outlines the deadly sins and lively virtues according to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. This video transformed my spiritual life!
- Pray! When we converse with Christ we are more sensitive to sin and we grow in virtue. We are better able to hear the voice of Christ and become more like Him. Pray everyday, throughout the day!
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