The Simple Catholic Snapshots:
- Envy is the Daughter of Pride; Together They Serve as the Most Grave of the 7 Deadly Sins
- Thru Baptism, We Become Mystical Members of the “Body of Christ”, His Church
- As Unified Members of the Body of Christ, Our Eternal Lives Mysteriously Involve Each Other
- Our Fallen Nature (of the Flesh) Must Die in Christ So That We Can Live Forever
- Admiration of Others is the Antidote to the Deadly Sin of Envy
- Admiration Can be Misdirected; Admiring Someone for the Wrong Reasons
The Simple Catholic Truth:
Pride and Envy are two deadly sins closely related in that they both focus on Self rather than God. Pride is the general sin where a person thinks of him or herself as the most important thing on earth. Quite literally, if we are ‘full of ourselves’ then there is no room left for God, obviously a very serious inversion of priorities.
Envy, the Daughter of Pride, extends that distortion to our relationship with others. Envy is the pleasure we might feel in the sorrow of another, or the resentment of the happiness or success of that other person.
In 1 Cor 12:4-31, St. Paul writes extensively about the Body of Christ as a metaphor for the unity of all Baptized believers. At the time of his writing, the church in Corinth was suffering from abuses in liturgical and theological practices and St. Paul was responding in letter to preserve the unity of faith. He acknowledges that we all have been given different spiritual gifts: some apostles, some teachers and some healers but the intent and goal of all these individual gifts is to serve the health of the Body of Christ, the Church. 1 Cor 12 sets the stage for the next chapter wherein St. Paul shows that, as great as these individual gifts may be, that if they don’t reside in Love, then they are meaningless. Unless our gifts are used in Love, then we gain nothing (1 Cor 13:2,3) and the health of the body is lost. So we see, in a mysterious way the health of the entire Body of Christ is somehow dependent on our Loving relationship with God and others.
This tells us why the Sins of Pride and Envy are so deadly. If we love ourselves (Pride) and resent others (Envy), then there is no way we can love God.
Expanding on this idea, we turn our attention to another letter from St. Paul, this time to the Galatians. In Gal 5:14-26, St. Paul emphasizes that it is our desires of the flesh that are the source of our troubles. In fact he is so direct, he says that those who yield to the desires of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:21). Wow, I’m not sure how much more clear that can be! Thankfully, he doesn’t leave us stranded, he gives us a direct mention of what must be done. In Gal 5:24, St. Paul says that we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires. In other words, our fallen nature, that aspect of mankind that is driven by the selfish desires of the flesh must die, to make room for the life in the Spirit (Gal 5:25). St. Paul repeats this message in Gal 2:19-20 when (speaking of himself) he says that “I have been crucified in Christ….I live no longer but Christ lives in me.” So again we have it: we must stop loving self if we stand any chance of Loving God and Neighbor. We must choose the antidote to Pride and Envy to have everlasting life. Our old self must die, so that our new self can live.
Speaking of Envy we explored its antidote, namely, Admiration. We talked about people that were heroes to us, people that we admire and guide our lives. One gentleman suggested he admired Tiger Woods. I asked what was it about Tiger that he admired and naturally, it was his supreme skills and success as a professional golfer. But then I asked how he felt about Tiger after the disclosure of his antics as a unfaithful womanizer. Of course he felt, as many of us did, that Tiger was no longer deserving of our admiration and hero status. The point of this discussion was simply to highlight the fact that we must be careful what and who we admire, and why. The ability to hit a ball into a cup with a stick, as physically remarkable as that may be, can never be confused with a person’s character that is genuinely admirable. We live in a world of super-stars and super-models and the superficial. Do not get super confused.
So lets take that antidote of Admiration. Lets admire the fathers and mothers, the soldiers and the saints and all the rest, that thru their unselfish Love for God and neighbor show us the way home.