+JMJ+ Welcome to part 12 of our current Catholic Book of the Month, Introduction to the Spiritual Life, by Brant Pitre. I’m on a Quest to become a saint and I’m using this book and the Sermon on the Mount as my guides. Come along and let us become saints together! Last week we saw that humility is the remedy for the number one capital sin, pride. Tonight we’ll look at another capital sin and its remedy.
The capital sins are:
- Envy (not jealousy)
And their remedies are:
To put that together:
- Pride – Humility
- Envy – Mercy
- Anger – Meekness
- Greed – Generosity
- Lust – Chastity
- Gluttony – Temperance
- Sloth – Diligence
Dr. Pitre spends a chapter on each of these. We looked at the root of these sins, pride, in some detail last time, but I won’t be able to go into as much detail in the rest of these posts. I really do recommend that you get a copy of the book. You can use the links at the end of the post or whatever source you prefer to use, but it will definitely be worth the investment.
The second capital sin is envy. This is not mere jealousy which is not necessarily a sin, but envy which is always a sin and can become a mortal sin. Jealousy can spur one on to accomplish something great. Envy is always destructive in what Dr. Pitre calls “a kind of self-inflicted wound.”
As rust wears away iron, so envy corrodes the soul it inhabits.Concerning Envy in Ascetical Works, Homily 11, by Basil the Great, quoted in Introduction to the Spiritual Life, by Brant Pitre, page 353, ebook.
No joy of its own pleases the pining soul, wounded by its own pain; someone else’s happiness torments it…. Once envy has infected the mind, it wipes out all the good works it finds.Morals in Job, 5.85, by Gregory the Great, quoted in Intro, 353, ebook.
Love of neighbor, which we are commanded to exercise (not merely to have but to exercise, to act upon, to do) is the opposite of envy, which desires that the neighbor not have some good. To be jealous of some good that our neighbor has would mean to want to have it, too, but envy means wanting the neighbor to NOT have it, the very opposite of what Jesus has commanded His disciples to do. Look around. Do you see entire movements taking place in our world today, based on envy? I can think of some and they are making themselves miserable and also everyone around them. Some prime example from the Bible are found in the parable of the Prodigal Son (I think that’s the envious elder brother sulking and skulking about in the shadows in the image below), and earlier in the account of what Cain did to his brother Abel. It goes back even further.
[B]ut through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.Wisdom 2:24, RSVCE.
What is the remedy for envy? Mercy. Dr. Pitre follows Aquinas here and also Gregory of Nyssa when he says: “Whereas envy consists of sorrow over another person’s good fortune, mercy consists of compassion toward another person’s misfortune. The former is rooted in pride, and the latter in love.”
Here we see that old pride again, at the head waters, with the other sins flowing from it. Pride and the other capital sins must be rooted out of the heart as a work of the flesh that will surely keep us out of the kingdom of God if we don’t. Envy can turn to hatred. Practice mercy, charity, almsgiving, and root out envy completely.
Next time, Anger and its remedy: Meekness.
View other parts of the series on the annotated Table of Contents page. Scroll down for this book’s posts.
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. I pray that you and I will stay holy and virtuous this Lent, and may these spiritual helps aid us to become who the Lord intends us to be: SAINTS. God bless you and may His Peace be always with you. +JMJ+
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Notes and Links
- The current Catholic Book of the Month is Introduction to the Spiritual Life: Walking the Path of Prayer with Jesus, by Brant Pitre: Hardcover, Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.)
- There are a lot of books on the spiritual life listed in a post I did a few years ago on Dr. Pitre’s audio course on Spiritual Theology. There are links in that post for some of those books in PDF format for free at archive.org.
- Concerning Envy in Ascetical Works, Homily 11, by Basil the Great, in Fathers of the Church 9, CUA Press, 1950, 463. Some editions of this are out of print but ebook versions are available at archive.org. Direct link to PDF format.
- Morals in Job, 5.85, by Gregory the Great, in Vol. 1: Preface and Books 1–5, Cistercian Studies 249; Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2014, 385–86.
Image: 1) in the banner, same one the cover of the book uses: The Road to Emmaus (or The Way to Emmaus), by Robert Zund, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. 2) Cain and Abel, by Titian, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. 3) Return of the Prodigal Son, by Michel Martin Drolling, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. 4) Satan hides, by Gustav Doré, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain (strictly speaking this picture was produced by Doré for Paradise Lost but it shows the envious Satan sneaking into the Garden to do evil to our First Parents there, so I used it anyway).
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