Remember: there is a virtue opposing every vice
Q.- I seem to struggle with the same sins over and over again and I am looking for some advice on how to break this cycle. I have noticed a pattern in my behavior and it seems I keep repeating the same type of sins. I’d really just like to get a handle on these repetitive sins.
1.- Being able to identify the patterns of behavior that are causing you to stumble is an excellent first step. To take this even farther, I recommend you incorporate a nightly examination of conscience at the end of every day. A good examination of conscience, using the seven capital vices (or deadly sins) as a guide can help identify which particular vices, and their offspring, cause you the most trouble. From there, you can practice growing in their opposite virtue. Here is a printable guide to a good examination.
There is a virtue opposing every vice. As we practice and grow in a particular virtue, then overcome that particular vice gets “easier.” The more good acts we perform, the more we weaken the hold that particular vice has over us. Overcome anger with patience and meekness, greed with charity, gluttony with fasting, envy through kindness, and lust through chastity.
St. Thomas Aquinas explains how human virtue is a good habit consisting in subjecting our intellect and will to right reason (Summa Theologiae, q. 55). He also notes that all sin is rooted in pride (Summa, II-II, q. 162, Article 7). For that reason, I recommend praying the Litany of Humility daily -as humility is the opposite virtue of pride.
You may also benefit from speaking regularly with a priest or spiritual director to help break this cycle of sin. But tackling the sins that seem to dominate your life by perfecting their opposite virtues is a good discipline to practice.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?