+JMJ+ Welcome to part 18 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, using Dr. Pitre’s book as my guide. Come along with me and let’s become saints together! In this post we’ll look at sorrow, the eighth (yes, eighth) capital sin, and its remedy: patience. (I’m having a rough time of it with my physical health right now so I’m looking forward to this section, too, which is probably also going to be briefer than some of the others.)
In the past Christians have spoken of seven capital sins but some have listed them as eight. The eighth capital sin is sorrow (or sadness, from the Greek lypē; Latin tristitia). Not all sorrow is sinful but “sinful sorrow can in fact be spiritually deadly.” (See p. 346.)
How many kinds of sorrow are there?
- Godly sorrow and
- Worldly sorrow.
Godly sorrow is “rooted in love for God and neighbor” and “faces evil or loss directly and realistically” and “leads to repentance, trust in God , and eternal life.” (346)
Wordly sorrow is an irrational response to evil, suffering or loss, and is rooted in pride and a disordered love for the things of this world. Leads to regret that things have not gone our way. Can lead to despair, the complete loss of trust in God’s providence, and so can be a mortal sin. (347)
A wonderful example of this is found in the story of Job and also in Proverbs in the Old Testament.
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.Proverbs 15:13.
Like a moth on a garment and a worm in a tree, so sorrow harms the heart.Proverbs 25:20 Septugint.
And we have the account of Jesus in the Garden in Gethsemane. We meditate on Godly sorrow in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. The word used to describe Jesus’s sorrow is the Greek perilypos, which we see is reminiscent of the word we saw moments ago, sorrow, Greek lypē, which looks like a related word used for the Rich Young Man in Mark 10:22, lypoumenos, to denote the worldly sorrow that he has because he has many things and he loves them “more than he loves Jesus.” (358)
What is the remedy?
Patience is the remedy for sorrow. Patient acceptance that sorrow will come and remembering that it, too, will pass. We all experience sorrow, even the Lord did, we saw that in the Agony in the Garden (First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary) and elsewhere, but our “sorrow will turn into joy.” (See John 16:20.)
How to tell the difference between the Godly and worldly sorrow
If a spirit of sadness comes over us that leads us to stop praying, then it is definitely the sinful kind. In the words of Francis de Sales:
“If you are ever caught by this evil kind of sorrow,…prayer is a sovereign remedy, for it lifts up the soul to God who is our only joy and consolation…. Although it may seem that everything you do at this time is done coldly, sadly, and sluggishly, you must persevere.”From Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales, 4.12, quoted in Intro, Pitre, 358.
Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 26:39. “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And “ask God for the virtue of patience.” (359) I would even add endurance to that, patient endurance.
The Lord is giving me a lesson in this with my health this week, that’s for sure. I can’t say I’ve been all that patient. Somewhat resigned but not altogether patient. So many things to work on, so far to go. And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4, Douay-Rheims Bible, public domain.
There’s more in the book than I can cover in these posts. You can get a copy of your own in hardcover or Kindle ebook format using the links at the end of this post. View other parts of the series on the annotated Table of Contents page and scroll down for this series of posts.
Next time: Making Progress.
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. I pray that you and I will stay holy and virtuous this Easter season, 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+
Join me on Fridays for the Rosary Project Live on Twitter at 8pm ET, 7pm CT, to cultivate a culture of Life and Love, and to end the culture of death. There’s also a Rosary on the blog you can use anytime.
“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” — Padre Pio
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.
- Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales: Paperback, Kindle (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below), or you can get a free PDF at archive.org.
- Lines from a poem by Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a poem I’ve loved for many a year.
Image: 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. Job, by Leon Bonnat, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. Agony in the Garden, by Eugène Delacroix, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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