By Lizzy Joslyn*

Kanye West. Credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.

The Seven Deadly Sins became “Famous” this afternoon with a tweet from Kanye West.

West tweeted “7 deadly sins,” along with a screenshot from Urban Dictionary:

KANYE WEST on Twitter

7 deadly sins

So what does the Catholic Church say about the Seven Deadly Sins?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says they are called “capital” sins because “they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia” (1886).

The Catechism draws from Pope Saint Gregory ’s Moralia in Job when it speaks of the capital, or deadly, sins. These capital sins are the leaders of other sins, Saint Gregory wrote, “like captains, others follow, after the manner of an army.” He named pride, however, “the queen of sins,” quoting Ecclesiastes 10:13, “Pride is the beginning of all sin.”

But why pride?

Chapter 33 of Practical Theology by Peter Kreeft addresses this in discussing the fall of angels. Kreeft references Saint Thomas Aquinas, “Only the sin of pride and envy can exist in an angel” (, 63, 2). These two sins, Kreeft says, are the reason behind the fall of the Devil himself.

Kreeft also explains the fundamental and commonly misconceived difference between pride and a healthy sense of self-love:

To worship yourself is not to love yourself. It is to lack real, proper self-love. To love what is, what God created, and what we really are, is proper self-love. To want to be like God (the first temptation, in Eden: Gen 3:6) is to love what is not, what God did not make, and what we really are not.

As Kendrick Lamar says, “be humble.”

The remaining six sins are explained by Saint Gregory in context of the additional sins they produce:

Avarice – Focusing on accumulation of material items results in a dishonest, cold-hearted mindset

From avarice there spring treachery, fraud, deceit, perjury, restlessness, violence, and hardnesses of heart against compassion.

Envy – The want of another person’s tangible items or circumstances results in a lack of love for humanity

From envy there spring hatred, whispering, detraction, exultation at the misfortunes of a neighbour, and affliction at his prosperity.

Wrath – Rage leads to a myriad of insensitive, hurtful actions that scar others physically and emotionally

From anger are produced strifes, swelling of mind, insults, clamour, indignation, blasphemies.

Lust – An unbridled desire that leads us to an undue affection for the things of this world

From lust are generated blindness of mind, inconsiderateness, inconstancy, precipitation, self-love, hatred of God, affection for this present world, but dread or despair of that which is to come.

Gluttony – Senseless splurging incites a foggy outlook on the good gifts God has granted us

From gluttony are propagated foolish mirth, scurrility, uncleanness, babbling, dulness of sense in understanding.

Sloth – Also, known as “Acedia,” this can lead to the absence of motivation to follow God

From melancholy there arise malice, rancour, cowardice, despair, slothfulness in fulfilling the commands, and a wandering of the mind on unlawful objects.

If sin were a tree, pride is the network of roots. The other six capital sins create the trunk of the tree, and the rest of our human sin–some of the sins Saint Gregory describes above–grow forth as branches.

In striving to avoid the growth of such sin, we have to let God be “Stronger.”

 

*Lizzy Joslyn is a summer intern at Catholic News Agency.