The Seven Deadly Sins

Pride is the Queen of Sins. Her Generals are the Seven Deadly Sins (or Vices). A mnemonic for the Seven Deadly Sins is VALEGAS.

Each of the Seven Deadly Sins has soldiers that are known as Daughters, which are ways in which the root sin manifests itself in an individual’s life.

Each Vice also has a Virtue that conquers it.

Vainglory is an immoderate desire for renown, prestige, or the praise and respect of others. It is also seeking these things in the wrong objects, from the wrong people, or in a wrong manner.

The Daughters of Vainglory are Disobedience, Boasting, Hypocrisy, Contentiousness, Stubbornness, and Inordinate Love of Novelty (quirkiness, eccentricity).

The Virtue that conquers Vainglory is Magnanimity, which means “greatness of soul” – desiring great or good things in part because they are great or good, but primarily for the glory of God.

Anger as a vice is a passion that seeks vengeance, is unregulated by reason, and/or is disproportionate to the cause is evil. But there is a similar, but praiseworthy passion that is better known as zeal, which seeks justice, is regulated by reason, and/or is proportionate to the cause.

The Daughters of Anger are Quarreling, Indignation, Blasphemy, Clamor (throwing tantrums), Contumely (verbal and/or physical abuse), and Swelling of the Mind (getting so worked up that you can’t think straight).

The Virtue that conquers Anger is Patience (in moderation). St. Thomas Aquinas said it is a sin to not get angry over things one should. He called it “unreasonable patience.” A failure to correct the wicked encourages them to persist in their evil deeds, since there are no reprimands for their wrong actions. It also causes confusion in the community over what is truly right and wrong, and thus may lead even good people to do evil.

Lust is a disordered craving for sexual pleasure. Human sexuality is a gift from God, but it can easily get out of hand. Whether a person is single and/or celibate, or married, lust may creep in, drawing us in on ourselves where it becomes harder to truly love. One of the great temptations of our day with regard to lust is pornography, which not only greatly disrespects human persons, but also is literally addictive.

The Daughters of Lust are Blindness of Mind, Thoughtlessness, Inconstancy, Impulsiveness, Self-Love, Hatred of God, Love of This World, and Abhorrence or Despair of a Future World.

The Virtue that conquers Lust is Chastity. Proper use of our sexuality frees us to love God and others purely. Where the expression of Lust is immoral (i.e., auto-erotic, homosexual, extra-marital, or pornographic), then total abstinence is called for. Where it is moral (within marriage), but disordered (self- rather than other-centered), then periods of abstinence will help bring about balance. This is one of the great treasures of Natural Family Planning that I sincerely wish the Catholic Church would actually promote. NFP has built-in periods of abstinence alternated with monthly honeymoons. It really blesses the marriages where it is practiced.

Envy is a sadness or sorrow for the goods and blessings given to others, insofar as their gifts differ from or surpass our own. It is often mistakenly equated with jealousy, but it is actually quite different. If I am jealous of a good that you have, then I want to possess it for myself. But if I am envious of a good that you have, then I want to minimize or destroy it in you.

Envy isn’t always obvious. Gossip, for example, is an expression of envy, because it seeks to diminish others and their accomplishments. So is failing to praise accomplishments or to encourage others in their endeavors. Perhaps the sneakiest form of envy is when it masquerades as kindness (e.g., praising non-accomplishments, participation trophies) or fairness (e.g., refusing to reward excellence, “equity”).

The Daughters of Envy are Gossip, Detraction, Schadenfreude (i.e., feeling happy when others experience misfortune), and Hatred. The Virtue that conquers Envy is Fraternal Charity, which means to be grateful for the gifts and talents of others and to desire that each and every person reach his or her full potential.

Gluttony is the disordered consumption of the world’s goods. It may be eating or drinking to excess, but it can also be doing too much of something we enjoy (e.g., surfing the ‘net, playing video games). A sneaky form of gluttony is the desire to have things exactly our way – such as food that is prepared just right or in just the right amount. People who are exceedingly picky are always finding something to complain about, because they refuse to suffer even the most minor inconvenience.

The Daughters of Gluttony are Unseemly Joy, Scurrility (vulgarity), Uncleanness, Loquaciousness, and Dullness of Mind (lack of understanding).

The Virtue that conquers Gluttony is Temperance (desiring material pleasures to an ordered degree). If we’re doing too much of something, we can practice Temperance by abstaining from that thing for a period of time. And if we are too picky, we can resolve to accept what is given as it is given and with gratitude.

Avarice is an inordinate desire for wealth. Also known as cupidity, greed, and covetousness, it is a corruption of the natural instinct of possession. The object of avarice is not limited to money.

The Daughters of Avarice are Treachery, Fraud, Falsehood, Perjury, Restlessness, Violence, and Insensibility to Mercy.

The Virtue that conquers Avarice is Generosity. Be generous, give without looking to get something in return, without delay or restrictions. Remember that nothing you own, be it money or things, originated with you; nor is any of it destined to stay with you into eternity.

Sloth is usually equated with inactivity or laziness. But it is really about resisting the demands of God’s love, for Him, for ourselves, and for others. Slothful people may avoid fully engaging in relationships of love and sacrifice by doing as little as possible, but they may do it by staying so busy that they never have time.

The Daughters of Sloth are Malice, Spite, Faint-Heartedness (timidity), Despair (melancholy), Sluggishness (particularly in regard to the Ten Commandments), Wandering of the Mind (after unlawful things).

The Virtue that conquers Sloth is Diligence. St. Thérèse of Lisieux believed in doing small thing with great love. For St. Teresa of Calcutta, it manifested in years of humble and tireless service to the poorest of the poor.

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One response to “The Seven Deadly Sins

  1. freedom1781

    I am definitely bookmarking this post, such an excellent read. I never heard of the Daughters before. Very interesting.

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