Saturday, January 6, 2018

Seven Capital Sins

In the recent Kyeongyang magazine, the rector of a Catholic University graduate school, with a degree in psychology, revisits the place of the capital sins in Catholicism. The listing of the seven capital sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth,   are no longer as familiar to us as they once were. We see daily in the news how these are so much of the life that we live here and now.

In this past year, we had a student who asked for his grades and was told to take an exam. The student in anger sent the teacher a home-made bomb by home delivery service from which the teacher was burnt. Also, we have the recent incident of a man who was sexually mistreating his wife and abducted the daughter of his friend, killed her and abandoned her body: the results of lust.

Anger can make us all murderers. lust makes us rapists, jealousy can make us all criminals.  When we surrender to these capital sins we deface our human dignity, and the spiritual life becomes difficult. They are very much part of our daily life. They increase immorality by their many by-products: lust give rise to a pornographic culture, gluttony, the abuse of drugs, envy in the use of terror tactics, anger begets violence, sloth predisposes us to be unconcerned with the pain and despair of others, avarice a lack of sharing, pride breeds coldness and disregard of others. We are all in small and big ways influenced by the society we have made.

We can give undue concern to the negative aspects of life but the writer feels the concern for the virtuous and the ethical has been abandoned by many. Self-centeredness, materialism, hedonism, individualism,  has been espoused by many in academia and especially in some schools of psychology, with their theories have begun living a relaxed moral life and seek to rationalize it.

We have the two extremes in the way morality is seen. Even if we are not a member of either group we can not be at peace for there are many who do not have the proper understanding of the harmony that should exist but see it all mixed up.

Many are those who when examining their consciences only see the results of their actions and not the cause of the wrong act. I fought with someone, I nagged, I was angry this is good but more so is the reason behind these actions to uncover the roots of our actions. To find the root of our action is important not only for our spiritual life but our mental health. The integration of the psyche and the spiritual is necessary for mature growth.

Capital sins were a stable part of our preaching and spirituality but over time it became encrusted with theological talk that made the whole issue difficult and separated from life. Even priests began to use other language instead of the seven capital sins. There are parts of the psychological language that is not in harmony with our teaching but a great deal is.

These seven capital sins have deep roots in the Catholic Tradition. They go back to the 4th century and were introduced to Europe by St, Cassian and have merited many studies and used for the examination of conscience to understand our inner life and the way it impacts society. They still separate many of the believers from unbelievers for many have no understanding of sin but only right and wrong acts that bring about harm to others. However all our acts leave footprints, often forgotten.

No comments:

Post a Comment