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The Seven Deadly Sins in Literature, Art, and Culture

Seven Deadly Sins: What Are They and How to Avoid Them

Have you ever heard of the seven deadly sins? They are a list of vices that have been considered by many Christian traditions as the root of all evil. They are also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, because they lead to other sins and immoral behaviors. But what are they exactly, and why are they so dangerous? And more importantly, how can we avoid them and live a virtuous life?


What are the seven deadly sins?

The seven deadly sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. They are not directly mentioned in the Bible, but they are based on various biblical passages that condemn them. For example, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that God hates, which are similar to the seven deadly sins. The concept of the seven deadly sins was developed by early Christian monks, especially Evagrius Ponticus, who classified eight evil thoughts that tempt humans. Later, Pope Gregory I reduced them to seven, and St. Thomas Aquinas elaborated on them in his Summa Theologica.

seven deadly sins


Why are they called deadly?

The seven deadly sins are called deadly because they can cause spiritual death, or separation from God. They are also called mortal sins, because they destroy the grace that God gives us through baptism. If we die in a state of mortal sin, without repenting and receiving God's forgiveness, we will be eternally separated from him in hell. Therefore, it is very important to confess our sins regularly and receive God's mercy.

How do they affect our lives and relationships?

The seven deadly sins not only harm our relationship with God, but also with ourselves and others. They distort our natural faculties and passions, making us selfish, unhappy, and unfulfilled. They also damage our social harmony, causing conflicts, divisions, and injustices. For example, pride makes us arrogant and disrespectful; greed makes us greedy and dishonest; lust makes us impure and unfaithful; envy makes us resentful and bitter; gluttony makes us wasteful and unhealthy; wrath makes us violent and vengeful; sloth makes us lazy and irresponsible.

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Opposite Virtues

The good news is that we can overcome the seven deadly sins by practicing the opposite virtues. A virtue is a good habit that helps us to act according to reason and faith. The Catholic Church teaches that there are seven cardinal virtues, which are divided into four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) and three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity). These virtues help us to live a moral life and to grow in holiness. Let's see how each virtue can help us to overcome the corresponding deadly sin.

Pride and Humility

Definition and examples of pride

Pride is an excessive love of oneself or one's own excellence. It is also called vanity or arrogance. Pride makes us think that we are better than others, that we deserve more than others, and that we do not need God or others. Pride makes us boastful, presumptuous, and contemptuous. Some examples of pride are: refusing to admit our mistakes or ask for help, looking down on others or judging them harshly, taking credit for what belongs to God or others, being stubborn or rebellious, and disobeying God's commandments.

Definition and examples of humility

Humility is the virtue that recognizes the truth about ourselves and our dependence on God. It is also called modesty or meekness. Humility makes us aware of our limitations, weaknesses, and sins, but also of our dignity, gifts, and potential as children of God. Humility makes us grateful, respectful, and obedient. Some examples of humility are: acknowledging our faults and asking for forgiveness, seeking God's will and guidance, giving thanks and praise to God and others, being open to learn from others and accept criticism, and serving God and others with love.

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How to practice humility and overcome pride

To practice humility and overcome pride, we can do the following:

  • Pray daily and ask God for the grace to be humble.

  • Read the Bible and meditate on the examples of humble people, such as Mary, Joseph, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself.

  • Examine our conscience regularly and confess our sins of pride.

  • Practice self-denial and mortification, such as fasting, almsgiving, and penance.

  • Avoid comparing ourselves with others or seeking human praise.

  • Compliment others sincerely and celebrate their achievements.

  • Listen to others attentively and empathetically.

  • Obey God's law and the legitimate authorities.

  • Offer our work and sufferings to God.

  • Seek to serve others rather than to be served.

Greed and Charity

Definition and examples of greed

Greed is an excessive desire for material wealth or possessions. It is also called avarice or covetousness. Greed makes us attach ourselves to earthly goods more than to God and our eternal destiny. Greed makes us selfish, stingy, and dishonest. Some examples of greed are: hoarding money or goods without sharing them with those in need, stealing or cheating to gain more wealth or power, being discontent or envious of what others have, being wasteful or irresponsible with our resources, and neglecting our spiritual duties for worldly pursuits.

Definition and examples of charity

Charity is the virtue that enables us to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. It is also called love or caritas. Charity makes us detach ourselves from earthly goods and to use them for God's glory and the common good. Charity makes us generous, kind, and honest. Some examples of charity are: giving tithes and offerings to the Church and the poor, being content and grateful for what we have, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep, being faithful and responsible with our talents and duties, and praying for God and our neighbor.

How to practice charity and overcome greed

To practice charity and overcome greed, we can do the following:

  • Pray daily and ask God for the grace to love him and our neighbor.

  • Read the Bible and meditate on the examples of charitable people, such as Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Job, the Good Samaritan, and the early Christians.

  • Examine our conscience regularly and confess our sins of greed.

  • Practice almsgiving and generosity, such as donating money or goods to the needy, volunteering for a good cause, or helping a friend in trouble.

  • Avoid being attached to material things or seeking worldly pleasures.

  • Be thankful for God's gifts and blessings, and acknowledge him as the source of everything.

  • Be happy for others' success and prosperity, and avoid jealousy or envy.

  • Be honest and fair in our dealings with others, and respect their rights and property.

  • Use our time, talents, and resources for God's glory and the common good.

  • Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Lust and Chastity

Definition and examples of lust

Lust is an excessive desire for sexual pleasure. It is also called lechery or impurity. Lust makes us treat ourselves and others as objects of gratification rather than as persons with dignity and worth. Lust makes us impure, unfaithful, and disrespectful. Some examples of lust are: engaging in sexual acts outside of marriage or contrary to natu

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