An Encouraging Word — Identifying with the ‘seven deadly sins’

If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves. I John 1:8

I’m often asked where I find ideas for this column. Regular readers know that I get them from grocery stores, restaurants, airports, seminary dining rooms and other public places where I can observe interesting human behavior. After 10 years of doing this every week, I recently came to the conclusion that I needed to look for additional pastures in which to graze for ideas.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go to one of the malls. I bought a drink, found a table with a panoramic view and pulled out my note pad and pen. I had no idea what was going to inspire me when I sat down, but within a few minutes I was reminded of the “seven deadly sins” from my Catechism days.

  • Lust is the sin of excessive sexual desire. Those who think that malls are solely inhabited by skimpily dressed teenagers in the throes of puberty need to think twice. Several barely covered middle-aged men and women, force-fitted into clothes several sizes too small for them, were strutting their stuff and obviously cruising for connections.
  • Gluttony is the sin of over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. The closest thing to a Roman food orgy is a mall food court! People, gorging on butter-dipped pretzels, deep-fried potatoes with globs of melted cheese, cookies the size of a dinner plate stuffed with candy pieces and huge roast beef hoagies with “the works,” sat in a field of small tables in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Greed is the sin of excessive or rapacious desire or pursuit of material possessions. If you listen carefully, the sound of credit card swiping and the rustling of huge plastic bags stuffed with unneeded new “stuff” can be deafening.
  • Sloth is the sin of laziness, either physical or spiritual. What are so many people doing roaming through shopping centers in the middle of the afternoon? Unemployment can’t be that high, could it?
  • Wrath is the sin of inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred, anger and violence. Clothes and jewelry with Nazi symbols, Confederate flags and various symbols of anger were being sold and worn throughout the mall.
  • Envy is the sin of being jealous of someone else’s physical traits, status, abilities or possessions. Small crowds of whispering teenagers, darting their eyes in disgust at other groups of whispering teenagers, stood out.
  • Pride is the sin of excessive love of self and the desire to be more important or attractive than others. Strutting peacocks in muscle shirts, fresh from their workout at some local gym, made their rounds to collect tidbits of admiration from those of us who lost our waistlines 50 years ago.

When I got home, instead of saying to myself, “Thank God I am not like the rest of men,” I looked into a mirror and admitted to myself sadly that “It takes one to know one!”

Father J. Ronald Knott

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