How Aquinas Will Help You Conquer the Seven Deadly Sins

Sloth.
Envy.
Avarice.
Vainglory.
Gluttony.
Lust.
Wrath.

Dr. Kevin Vost has a plan for how you can conquer these vices. And he’s compiled his plan into an easy to read book called The Seven Deadly Sins: A Thomistic Guide to Vanquishing Vice And Sin.

Vost writes in his usual congenial style. All his books have a light humor to them that make them a joy to read, and this book is no different.

The Origins of the 7 Deadly Sins

In the first section of the book, Vost tackles the history of the seven deadly sins.

vost1He locates them in Scripture and in the Tradition of the Church, showing that some Church Fathers actually listed eight sins but that eventually a particular group of seven capital ones were agreed upon.

In the end of this section he has a good chapter on St. Thomas Aquinas’s analysis of these sins, their death-dealing daughters, and the opposite virtues that quell them. The book draws from Aquinas in the second section as well, taking notes from the Angelic Doctor on how to overcome these evils in your life.

Mano y Mano Contra Vice

The heart of the book is in the second section, where Vost spends one chapter on each of the seven sins.

For each one, he carefully examines what the sin is and is not, how it affects us, and what we can do to combat it. He also provides a mini-examination of conscience for the sin, giving good insights into what to look for in your own actions and thoughts to know whether you are succumbing to that particular vice.

For instance, regarding sloth, Vost says:

Does my mind wander after unlawful things? Am I so apathetic about the things of God that I am easily enticed away from devotional practices and Christian virtue by petty or sinful diversions?

manoyHe goes on to explain that you can enlist several comrades-in-arms to help you defeat sloth: diligence (in your prayer life and secular life), gratitude, piety, and religion (i.e. justice, giving God, who has given so much to us, His rightful due).

Dr. Vost also explains how frequenting the sacraments provides a powerful antidote against sin. I discovered this myself during my own fight against sin, especially against lust. I recall reading with great hope the passage in the Catechism where it says that receiving Christ in the Eucharist strengthens one against future mortal sin.

Sophia Institute Press has put out another winner in The Seven Deadly Sins. Definitely pick it up, read it, and pass it along to help conquer these sins in your life, by the grace of God!

Same-Sex Proponents Have Found Their Fulcrum…

…and are now just waiting for the lever to be long enough.

Archimedes said:

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

The same-sex “marriage” proponents have their fulcrum in the Supreme Court decision. Now all that they require is a lever long enough to dislodge Christianity from Western civilization.

The Lever Lengthens

They are winning the culture war one person at a time, and with each person their lever lengthens. It will not be long before they win substantial victories over Christians in every area of society.

They will modify school curricula to require the teaching of books and materials that assert same-sex “marriages” and households are equivalent to traditional ones. If you are a teacher and refuse to go along, you will be fired and branded as a hateful bigot who will then find it difficult to get another teaching job.

teach1If you have your children in public schools, they will force your child to listen to same-sex propaganda. And before long they will push to force any school, including Catholic ones, who receive state funding or tax exemption, to teach such things.

They will require churches to marry them, and if those churches refuse they will sue the churches. Even if churches get “out of the civil marriage business,” this will happen. Churches will lose tax exempt status and lose countless millions of dollars to lawsuits until they cave or go bankrupt.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. One day I have little doubt that people who write blog posts like this one or who speak about traditional marriage will be ostracized and be at risk for being sued as bigots.

Have We Lost the Cultural War?

We are losing it.

We are being routed, in ways that a 5-4 SCOTUS decision doesn’t properly reflect.

The squashy middle has been won over. They were ripe for the picking, given the degraded state of our society and the lack of education in objective philosophical and moral truths that all of us in the past six decades or so have grown up in.

I have discussions with my coworkers almost everyday about these topics. They don’t understand why two people shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want, with whomever they want, as long as “they don’t hurt anybody.”

I’ve tried explaining fundamentals of natural law, teleology, and ontology, but this is gibberish to them. No comprende/it’s a riddle.

My friends counter that traditional couples divorce at a high rate, some abuse children, and many are generally awful. (All those things are true, I grant them, but those are all bad things that no one thinks people should be doing.)

nat1I point out that children need a mother and father, and even those who agree counter that different people could fulfill the mother and father role.

I point out that children in traditional families objectively have better lives than those from same-sex households, but they say that is not true. I point to Mark Regnerus’s study as solid evidence of my position, but they do not care.

Most of my friends who support same-sex “marriage” are not the extremists who want to use it to demolish Christianity and hurt Christians. But the extremists will happily use them to do so, by winning the court of public opinion, academia, the courts, legislatures, and social media.

My same-sex “marriage” supporting friends have even started to be appalled by the ways that traditional marriage supporters are being attacked. They see that it is being used as a baseball bat to bludgeon religious people.

Get On the Bandwagon

I listen to a popular entrepreneurial business podcast. Last Friday’s episode had all the hosts rejoicing over the SCOTUS decision with lines like:

“Finally the courts decided what we’ve all known for 15 years.”

(Though apparently Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t know it back then, in spite of them being champions of enlightened liberalism.)

“We are for equality. Why shouldn’t all people be equal?”

love1These inane quips, along with the #lovewins hashtag, reheated and repurposed from Rob Bell’s universalist movement some years back, seem to them as obvious and impenetrable slogans that auto-counter any argument.

The software development twitter sphere was abuzz with glowing tweets about love winning and how awesome everything was. No peep of protest from anyone, myself included. Because the instant you try to say something against it, you will be demolished, protested against, and likely banned as a hater from twitter entirely.

“Love” as they define it, doesn’t win. But ostracizing people socially does win.

The point is simple: you will get on the bandwagon or you will be crushed.

What of Our Churches?

Our churches have been largely silent. A fortnight for freedom here, a mildly worded message there.

We were and are largely silent about no-fault divorce, contraception, cohabitation, pornography, and all the other ills that have undermined families and the very understanding of what a family is that has allowed this debacle to take place.

pas1Our time of reckoning is coming, and we deserve what we get.

I have been blessed to be at many good parishes over the past fifteen years, with pastors who spoke out against all these things, but those priests and parishes have been all too rare in the decades leading up to now.

I don’t advocate giving up, of course. We can and must continue to fight and to encourage our priests and bishops to stand for truth with courage. But our failures must be admitted, too. We as Catholics have not lived as faithfully as we should have.

We Were Made For This Time

Far from being despondent, we should be renewed with conviction.

satWe were made for this time. God has given you life here and now. Nothing is ever hopeless with Christ.

Pray like a saint. Evangelize like a saint. Live like a saint. Speak like a saint. Become a saint.

The Lord knows how far I fall short of this, but I believe with His grace I can become who He has created me to be.

Is Leaving An Option?

Some friends have felt the desire to leave the United States and go elsewhere. Is that an option?

I think it is. Parents must consider not just what they can endure themselves, but what kind of society they will rear their children in, and what future their children will have.

es1Sadly, many countries are even worse than the United States morally speaking, so a tough question is where could you actually go that wouldn’t be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Malta? Monaco? Luxembourg? Philippines? Thailand?

Obviously it is a huge decision to leave your own country, something that would take the most serious discernment. And I think that overall most people would not be called to it, but I also think it is a possibility families should consider.

Our country is in a steep decline. The consequences of the SCOTUS decision and the subsequent actions that will shortly follow are dire and will affect children, families, and our country and world for the next century and beyond.

In the end, true Love wins, which means God wins; truth wins. We are facing a new time, when being a Christian will not be acceptable. But this is a time that other Christians have faced before us, even to the point of giving their lives for Christ. Our martyrdom will be slower, white instead of red most likely, but still painful and difficult.

May God give us the strength to persevere.

Practical Actions To Take

What can you do now?

Arm yourself with a good book by Ryan Anderson like Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Also I just heard about this easy way to consecrate (or reconsecrate) yourself and family to Christ through our Blessed Mother via St. Louis de Montfort’s 33-day prayers and readings.

Pray, be converted, evangelize, love others and speak the truth in love.

A New Demonology Book Discerns: Demon Possession Or Mental Illness?

Fr. Mike Driscoll has written a much-needed and helpful book on demonology called Demons, Deliverance, and Discernment: Separating Fact From Fiction About the Spirit World.

Are Demon Possessions Really Just Mental Disorders?

In our modern times it is en vogue to explain away demon possession in ancient times and in the present day to mere mental disorders.

demo1But Fr. Driscoll explains that that is simply not an acceptable belief as a Christian. Instead, demonic possession is real, and mental disorders are real. Sometimes, a person is afflicted with both at the same time, compounding the person’s problems and suffering. He points out that the Israelites in the Old Testament and the contemporaries of the Apostles in thew New all knew about insanity and mental problems as distinct from demonic forces.

I appreciate this book deeply: Fr. Driscoll surveys world cultures on what they believe about demons and how they deal with them. He is eminently practical and faithful in his approach, falling neither on the one extreme that everything is a demonic force nor on the other that demons aren’t active in the world and that all problems are chemical imbalances.

Temptation, Possession, Oppression

Fr. Driscoll then specifically delves into Christian theology from Scripture and Tradition to examine demonic activity.

It is clear from the Bible that demons sometimes possess people. But it is also true that more commonly demons tempt people to evil. Demons can know our habits and are much more clever and intelligent than we are. So they can tempt us strongly along sinful proclivities that we already are prone to.

opp1Between temptation and possession is a broad middle ground that Fr. Driscoll labels obsession and oppression. He explains that these beliefs are not Catholic dogma but are acceptable opinions for Catholics to hold.

In the Old Testament, we would say that Job was not possessed but certainly was oppressed by demons–his entire family being killed and himself afflicted with infirmities. Similarly in the New Testament we see a woman afflicted by a spirit of infirmity. She did not display the signs of possession–great strength or knowledge that she would not normally have-but Satan had “bound” her in some way.

Exorcists and Exorcisms

Fr. Driscoll describes the Church’s response to demons, in particular exorcisms and how she discerns whether someone is possessed versus having a mental disorder only.

He explains aspects of the Rite of Exorcism, including the interesting fact that in cases of possession, the possessed person is always revulsed by sacred objects and words: crucifixes, holy water, saintly relics, and particular prayers.

Fr. Driscoll discusses too the role that ordained clergy play in exorcisms and the more limited roles that laity have in resisting or helping someone against demonic attacks.

He also gives practical advice on working with the Church to find an exorcist and get help if you or someone you know are experiencing possible demonic activity.

Fr. Driscoll addresses the question of authority in regard to exorcisms and whether Protestants are able to perform them. Here and also where he gives directives on practices and actions to avoid in order to not expose yourself to demons and the occult, are very helpful and practical chapters.

Overall the book is excellent: simple, thorough, and faithful. An important book for all Catholics but especially for those who deal with the difficult discernment of whether someone is being spiritually attacked, possessed, and/or having mental disorders.