Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Seven Deadly Sins

(Originally posted July 5, 2009)

I have been enjoying Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way. Part of the ‘work’ you do while going through the 12 week process is to enjoy a weekly Artists Date. It is at least a 2 hour period where you are asked to do something that encourages or stimulates your inner artist. This week, I went to the library and looked through books depicting paintings that hang in some of the world’s most famous museums, such as the Louvre in Paris. I found myself looking up Hieronymus Bosch, primarily because this is the name of a character in a detective series I enjoy by Michael Connelly. I knew the character was named after a famous artist, but it was not anyone I had heard of before. Out of curiosity, I looked for art by Bosch, and came upon a work called The Seven Deadly Sins. Now my only experience with The Seven Deadly Sins was in another detective series by Lawrence Sanders. Who knew there was such a thing “in real life”? Not me, anyway. I’ve read the bible many times, and I didn’t remember anything about Seven Deadly Sins. There is a passage in Proverbs 6:16-19 (New International Version) that says:

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

It was Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century that declared the seven deadly sins as follows: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth. I found the following definitions for these sins on a website

1. Pride is an excessive belief in one’s own abilities.

2. Envy is wanting what others have, be it status, abilities, or possessions.

3. Gluttony is the desire to eat or consume more than you require.

4. Lust is a powerful craving for such as sex, power and money.

5. Anger is the loss of rational self-control and the desire to harm others.

6. Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain.

7. Sloth is laziness and the avoidance of work.

Pope Gregory also lists a set of Seven Values as a counter-balance to the Seven Deadly Sins. These are faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, prudence and temperance. The definitions I found on the above website are:

1. Faith is belief in the right things (including the virtues).

2. Hope is taking a positive future view that good will prevail.

3. Charity is concern for, and active helping of, others.

4. Fortitude is never giving up.

5. Justice is being fair and equitable with others.

6. Prudence is care of and moderation with money.

7. Temperance is moderation of needed things and abstinence from things which are not needed

Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? You can find so much stuff! Apparently there are Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit as well: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. I looked for definitions of each of these gifts, and found this quote from Father Francis Fernandez, author of In Conversation With God, to be the most clear, for me anyway:

1. The gift wisdom enables us to comprehend the unfathomable wonder of God, and it urges us to seek him in preference to all other things, amid our ordinary work and obligations.

2. The gift of understanding shows us the riches of the Faith with greater clarity.

3. The gift of counsel points out the paths of holiness to us – God’s Will in our ordinary daily life– and encourages us to choose the option which most closely coincides with the glory of God, and the good of our fellow man.

4. The gift of fortitude uplifts us continually, helping us to overcome the difficulties which we inevitably meet on our journey to God.

5. The gift of knowledge enables us to judge created things in an upright manner, and to keep our heart fixed on God, and on things insofar as they lead us to Him.

6. The gift of piety inclines us to treat God with the intimacy with which a child treats his father.

7. The gift of fear induces us to flee the occasions of sin, resist temptation and avoid every evil which could sadden the Holy Spirit, and to fear above all the loss of the One whom we love, and who is the reason of being of our life.

Okay, that’s more in line with my thinking, but I kept looking. I even found a Fox News article from March 2008 stating that the Vatican had added 7 more deadly sins. The new deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice. Well, personally I don’t agree about being obscenely rich or abortion as a deadly sin, or any of them as a deadly sin for that matter, but it is a thought provoking list nonetheless.

My favorite result in my google search of the seven deadly sins was this one:

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

1.  Wealth without Work

2.  Pleasure without Conscience

3.  Science without Humanity

4.  Knowledge without Character

5.  Politics without Principle

6.  Commerce without Morality

7.  Worship without Sacrifice

I hope internet surfing isn’t a form of slothfulness. Honest, I wasn’t avoiding work, really I wasn’t. But if it is, it’s a good thing I am a firm believer in the divine forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.


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