Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Heavenly Virtues

Father Peter's Homily Series

We just concluded our year-long commemoration of the death of our patron St. John Berchmans, who died 400 yrs ago, on August 13, 1621. The year-long commemoration of the death of another concludes next month, as Dante Alighieri died 700 years ago, September 14, 1321.  When I was in Florence, right after Christmas (en route to see the Shroud of Turin) the whole city was highlighting their native son. 

The Divine Comedy is universally considered one of the most important literary works of history. The poem is unique for its structure, and for being composed in Italian and not Latin. It is unique also for its content. Dante has us journey through Hell and then through Purgatory to Heaven.  Hell is constructed as a huge funnel with nine descending circular ledges (with Satan in the icy bottom) with a vast, meticulously organized torture chamber at each level in which sinners, carefully classified according to the nature of their sins, suffer hideous punishment, often depicted with ghoulish attention to detail.  

Sinners who recognize and repudiate their sins are given the opportunity to attain Paradise through the arduous process of purification, in Purgatory, envisioned to be nine levels up to Paradise as the penitents continually reaffirm their faith and atone for having committed on earth one or several of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Well, this week, I start a series of homilies on the Seven Deadly Sins.  We will accompany Dante through Purgatory, not so much to focus on these sins themselves, but so that we can know how to break through them using their antidotes as seen in Dante’s vision, namely, the Heavenly Virtues that keep us spiritually alive.   God wants us fully alive; Satan wants us fully dead to God’s grace.  Sin keeps us from being fully ALIVE as God created us (that’s why they are deadly).

For example, PRIDE is at the base of the mountain,  the foundation of all sin.  The antidote for (the opposite of) pride is the virtue of HUMILITY which  grounds us…  helps us know the truth  of things – the truth  about ourselves.  Let’s journey together and focus on the Seven Heavenly Virtues as we journey along our way to Paradise.

 Schedule of homilies, based on the Mass readings of that Sunday:

 Aug 21… Overview of the Seven Deadly Sins

Aug 28… Pride—Humility/Reality

Sep 11… Envy—Admiration/Kindness

Sep 18… Anger—Forgiveness/Gratitude

Oct 9 ….. Sloth—Zeal/Diligence

Oct 16…. Lust—Chastity/True Love

Oct 23…. Greed—Generosity/Charity

Oct 30…. Gluttony—Temperance/Moderation

Father Peter

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