Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spiritual Dryness ,Virtues and Sins

So, during confession Father said I might be doing something wrong. Probably. One of the things has been neglecting the Holy Spirit. I am trying to get better there. A couple weeks ago during CCD we were talking about virtues, what they are and how they are the jewels in the crown of glory those who go to heaven receive.

So what are the virtues? There are four cardinal one and three others. Peter Kreeft, speaking about the four cardinal virtues says they "are the hinges upon which the other virtues turn". These virtues are those that we can develop by practice.

- According to Father John Hardon, knowledge of things that ought to be done and things that ought to be avoided. Very simply put, knowing right and wrong. Not society's ever shifting right and wrong, you're ok and I'm ok and our very divergent realities are ok. But the black and white, unchanging right and wrong.
- the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his rightful due (as described by Father John Hardon) But this is not merely legal. It is the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. Each person deserves respect simply because he has been created by God and is a child of God. One's rights do not and should not detract from another's. That is why there is no justice in abortion. By giving one the right to 'choose' another is losing the right to exist.
- a person who is willing to put himself in danger's way if necessary. Not a reckless risk-taker doing so for a rush. Also, simply doing the right thing in the face of fear, public opinion, intimidation.
Temperance - moderation, self-control in all matters and situations, including emotions.

The other theological virtues, graces from God are:
Faith - firm and unwavering belief
Hope - in the promises of Christ, of Heaven and in Salvation. Relying on the Holy Spirit, God's grace and mercy not our own strengths.
Love (Charity)- generosity of self and in thought.

Then there are the seven heavenly virtues of which there is some overlap:
Chastity- Christopher West talks about 'custody of the eyes' during his lectures on JPII's Theology of the Body. Do I allow my eyes to roam and linger on what might lead me into lust and temptation? Do I read books and watch movies that would do the same?
Diligence- do I work hard? Am I careful with my time? Do I use my time wisely?
Patience - forbearance, the ability to forgive and show mercy.
Kindness - Do I treat others kindly? Do I try to see Christ in others?
Humility - modesty, unselfishness, giving respect and credit to others when due. I kind of get now why some saints will say they are 'nothing' or lowly like a worm. It is their recognition that we owe all to God and without Him we are truly nothing and their love of God's greatness that leads them to say this.

On the flip side, there are the seven deadly sins, which I will bet anyone can name faster than any of the virtues I have mentioned. Why is it so easy to remember the bad and not the good?

Pride - excessive belief in one's own abilities without regard for God. Commonly regarded as the root of all the other deadly sins. For what are the sins generally if not rooted in selfishness? And isn't it pride that keeps people out of the confessional in droves? Isn't it pride that keeps us from forgiving one another and seeking forgiveness for ourselves? I know from years and years of practice that for me, it is. Although, I was willing to seek forgiveness from my sins from God but not willing to forgive others or seek their forgiveness of me. I'm still working on learning to forgive.
Lust - the excessive desire for physical and sensual pleasure. Wouldn't this also be attachment to sin?
Avarice - desire for material gain
Envy - a desire for what another has - possession or trait and my thought is that it goes beyond that to depriving another of that possession or trait...not wanting them to have it at all.
Sloth - apathy to God and one's soul. Spiritual and physical laziness. Ignoring one's duties: am I tooling around on the internet or reading a book when I should be cleaning or making dinner?
Anger - rejection of love and mercy and opting for violence and hate.
Gluttony - consumption of more of anything than what you really need. Not just food related.

It is a sobering and kinda depressing to see where I am failing and sinning. But it is also a start because I have many, many things to work on and many prayers to say. Looking at the virtues and sins together is fascinating and a good preparation for confession.


Charlotte said...

I think I might use the list of virtues as my examination of conscience, instead of the usual examinations. These highlight, for me, where my failings are. Thanks!

rachelsaxx said...

What a great summary! When you mentioned Christopher West, it occurred to me that Dr. Janet Smith's recent article on the whole controversy is a beautiful example of almost all of those heavenly virtues: Chastity, Charity, Temperance (especially this one) Patience, Kindness and Humility