Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

The last but not least of the seven capital sins for our consideration is the deadly sin of pride. The glossary in the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines pride as "undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God."

St. Gregory the Great wrote, "The leader of the devil's army is pride, whose progeny are the seven deadly vices. ... Certainly the root of all evils is pride, of which Scriptures say, 'Pride is the origin of all sin' (Eccl. 10:15). ... And because he grieved at our being held captive by pride's seven vices, our Redeemer wages a spiritual war of liberation for us, filled with the spirit of a sevenfold grace" (Moralia in Job 31, 45).

Notice that St. Gregory ends on the happy note of our liberation from sin, won for us by our Redeemer's saving graces. As we grow spiritually and become more aware of our sins, we grow ever more conscious of Christ's salvation for us on the cross.

In his article, "Reversing the Deculturation of Fatherhood," Donald Demarco notes that the lust, avarice and pride espoused by the atheistic revolutionaries Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche have not brought about personal fulfillment. On the contrary, they have led to a disintegration of personality. The fruits of lust, avarice and pride are, respectively, bitter loneliness, spiritual dissatisfaction and abject misery.

Demarco points out that Freud, Marx and Nietzsche, whose influence on the modern world is immense, were particularly vehement in their rejection to the fatherhood aspect of God. They all believed and taught that the condition for human liberty is the death of God the Father. The abolition of the fatherhood of God is at the same time the abolition of the fatherhood in man.

David Blankenhorn's important study, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1995), shows that fatherlessness is the most harmful trend of the current generation: the leading cause of the declining well-being of children; the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women. Despite the massive social problems created by fatherlessness, he informs us, a concerted effort is still underway to "deculture" paternity. American society is not content with the vilification of fatherhood; it must abolish it, thoroughly and completely.

In their article, "Deconstructing the Essential Father," published in the June 1999 issue of American Psychologist, authors Louis B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach argue that fathers are not essential to the well-being of children. In fact, they believe it is positively dangerous to think otherwise: "We see the argument that fathers are essential as an attempt to reinstate male dominance by restoring the dominance of the traditional nuclear family with its contrasting masculine and feminine gender roles."

In his international bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Blessed John Paul II wrote that original sin is, above all, an attempt "to abolish fatherhood."

In order to recover fatherhood, Demarco argues that there must first be a recovery of the fatherhood of God. St. John's "theology of lust," presented in his second letter, constitutes the basis for what was subsequently developed as the seven deadly sins. The "pride of life" was divided into three categories (pride, anger, and envy), as was the "lust of the flesh" (lust, gluttony, and sloth). Together with the "lust of the eyes" (avarice or greed), they make up the time-honored seven deadly sins. The antidote to these sins, of course, is a life of grace-filled virtue.

I hope that these reflections on the seven deadly sins that I have presented in the past few weeks will be helpful in our Christian vocation to grow in holiness by rejecting sin and espousing virtue through the divine assistance of our Most Holy Redeemer.

May God give us this grace. Amen.