As the Catechism tells us, “Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called ‘capital’ because they engender other sins, other vices.” (no. 1866)
The seven capital (or “deadly”) sins are as follows, with definitions from the glossary to the Catechism, or The Catholic Dictionary by Fr. Peter Stravinskas:
- pride: Undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself against God.
- avarice (or “covetousness” or “greed”): An extreme desire for material goods and worldly honors
- envy: A resentment or sadness at another’s good fortune, and the desire to have it for oneself.
- wrath (or “anger”): An emotion which is not in itself wrong, but becomes sinful when it is not controlled by reason or when it hardens into resentment and hate.
- lust: The inordinate desire for sexual pleasures that inclines one to perceive others as mere objects solely for personal gratification.
- gluttony: Overindulgence in food or drink.
- sloth (or “acedia”): A culpable lack of physical or spiritual effort; laziness regarding one’s grave responsibilities to God, oneself, or others.
The seven virtues that counteract these sins are as follows, with definitions from the same sources as above:
- humility: The virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good; it avoids inordinate ambition or pride
- liberality: A detachment to material goods; generosity
- brotherly love: Desiring the true good of others; loving them as if they were your friend or relative.
- meekness: The ability to accept and tolerate the ordinary adversities of life with equanimity, balance, and good humor.
- chastity: The virtue that regulates one’s sexual thoughts, desires, and actions in a manner proper to one’s vocation.
- temperance: The cardinal virtue that moderates the drive for sensual pleasure.
- diligence: Conscientiousness or perseverance in performing those tasks to which we are called.
The best way to grow in these virtues is through prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments. May we all cultivate the virtues of God and root out sin!