As fallen human beings we all struggle with sin. For many of us, we have particular sins that are difficult to overcome. The good news is that through God’s grace we can overcome them and God has already laid out a complete battle plan.
Besides availing ourselves of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, to root out a sin we must look at the root of it all. Theologically speaking the Church has defined the origin of our sins as the “seven deadly sins” or the “seven capital sins.”
Fr. William Saunders explains, “The capital sins are the source of all sins. The word capital derives from the Latin ‘caput,’ meaning ‘head.'” St. Thomas Aquinas further defines in his Summa Theologiae that “a capital vice is that which has an exceedingly desirable end so that in his desire for it a man goes on to the commission of many sins all of which are said to originate in that vice as their chief source.”
In other words, all of our sins can be traced back to these seven primary types of sin.
A powerful way to combat them in our struggle to be holy is to practice the opposing virtues that counteract these sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how these “virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.” If we want overcome these deadly sins, we must learn about the virtues that counteract them and call upon God’s aid to help us in our daily struggle to adopt them into our lives.
One of the central keys to overcoming sin are these “deliberate acts” of virtue, where we are intentional about the habit that we want to cultivate. If we want to stop gossiping about someone, we must instead choose to speak charitably about them. If food is a problem in our lives, we deliberately practice temperance and regulate our food intake.
Whatever bad habit or vice we want to end, we need to put a virtue in its place.
As a head start, below are the seven deadly sins with the corresponding heavenly virtue that should be practiced to make a more complete life change.
Pride – Humility Covetousness – Liberality Lust – Chastity Anger – Meekness Gluttony – Temperance Envy – Brotherly love Sloth – Diligence
What are the four cardinal virtues?