- Pride, being inwardly focused, is countered by humility which is, simply, rejoicing in others and the forgetting of ourselves. When we realize that all that we are and have comes from God, we realize we have nothing of which to be proud.
Assignment: Do something ‘beneath’ you in service of others and do not speak of it. Keep it between you and the Lord.
- Envy, the discontent with the advantage’s another possesses, is countered by gratitude which is the realization that all comes from God, and, thus, we have no right to feel slighted or denied for not receiving or possessing.
Assignment: Examine your natural talents and praise God for them every morning recalling that he has given you these gifts and the possibility of eternal bliss in Heaven with Him, something you cannot ever deserve.
- Wrath, which is anger indulged to the point of hatred and a desire to injure the other party, is countered by forgiveness which is simply when we decide stop drinking the poison that we expect to hurt others. It’s illogical. We withhold forgiveness, in the devious hope of harming this offender in return, but we only wound ourselves, again. Stop drinking the poison. Wrath can, in some cases, be inwardly directed, thereby causing harm to ourselves.
Assignment: Forgive someone a great offense, and never bring it up, again. If it surfaces in your mind, say, “This offense was nothing compared to my great offenses toward God, from whom I hope to obtain forgiveness.” Refrain from gossip which is only a tool of the evil one to spread unforgiveness.
- Sloth, contrary to popular convention, is an attitude of indifference toward that which deserves our attention and care. Sloth is countered by spiritual fervor which is the natural by-product of appreciating and adoring the wonder that is our God. If we realize His divine greatness, then, how can we be indifferent about the truths which He has revealed and, further, their importance? God is either the most important thing, or not important at all because He does not exist. The one thing He cannot be, is moderately important.
Assignment: Examine the morals you have rationalized away in your life, chastity for example, which you know to be wrong. Fight for this moral in your life and in the life of others, from a place of love and kindness. It is never kind to let others miss the importance of something. It is never kind to watch someone drink poison because they may get angry if we tell them it is poison.
- Lust, the disordered desire to carnally use another as means to our end, is countered by chastity, the ability to resist the abuse or disordered use of that which is intrinsically good with regard to human sexuality. Human sexuality is not bad; do not think, because something can be misused, it is, altogether, bad. Like wine, which can be pleasant and moderated, it can also be use destructively. Sex is to be highly revered and respected as a reflection of the union of the divine Persons, God, and a physical renewal of the vows of sacramental marriage. Respect this union, unlike the culture, which feels sex is little more than a handshake to be sterilized and shared with whomever, whatever, whenever.
Assignment: Identify the greatest threat to your purity and chastity, whether you be married, unmarried, or celibate, and see this threat as the devil offering you candy laced with poison, instantly gratifying and delightful with lasting damage to the human person.
- Greed is, simply, the choosing to love or have charity toward things over people, and we counter this when we realize that everything we have, past what we need, is taken from those who do not have necessities.
Assignment: Find a small, inessential pleasure in your life, not necessarily an evil. Eliminate it, and offer the bounty from this sacrifice to give others. For example, abandon your morning Starbucks and give this to the Church or a food pantry.
- Gluttony is attempting to satiate a deficit meant to be filled with God, with food or material, or seeking to ‘live on bread alone,’ as the scripture warns against. We must temper this desire by recognizing, if the pang we feel is a call to nourish our body, or to nourish our soul.
Assignment: Skip an item in a meal that you want but do not need, such as a condiment or a dessert, and offer this sacrifice for an intention near to your heart. Pax vobiscum, nerds!
Image: Frans Francken the Younger’s Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice