Inordinate love of possessing external goods that are useful for an end but are not ends in and of themselves. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” (Ex 20:17) It is excessive love of possessing riches. Remembering that the goodness of things relates to a due (just) measure, evil results from either an excess or deficiency of that measure.


  • “Being filled with all iniquity … covetousness. They who do such things are worthy of death.” Romans 1:29-32
  • “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” (Ex 20:17)
  • “Lust for money brings darkness on the soul” St. John Chrysostom
  • Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
  • “A covetous man shall not be satisfied with money.” Ecclesiastes 5:9
  • “A covetous man sets his own soul to sale because while he lives he has despised his bowels to make money.” Sirach 10:10


  • treachery: betraying others in order to acquire possessions
  • fraud: taking deceitful action in order to acquire possessions
  • falsehood: lying in order to acquire possessions
  • perjury: employing an oath in lying in order to acquire possessions
  • restlessness: excessive anxiety about his possessions
  • violence: sometimes the path to acquiring more possessions

insensibility to mercy: won’t help the needy since he would be deprived of his possessions

Self-examination from Episcopalian St. Augustine Prayer book (not exactly Thomistic, but useful)

COVETOUSNESS (AVARICE): Avarice is the refusal to respect the integrity of other creatures, expressed in the inordinate accumulation of material things; in the use of other persons for our personal advantage; or in the quest for status, power or security at their expense.

Inordinate Ambition

  • Pursuit of status, power, influence, reputation, or possessions at the expense of the moral law, of other obligations, or of the rights of others.
  • Ruthless or unfair competition.
  • Putting self or family first.
  • Conformity to standards we recognize as wrong or inadequate in order to get ahead.
  • Intrigue or conspiracy for self-advancement.


  • Seeking to use or posses others; imposing our will on others by force, guile, whining, or refusal to cooperate.
  • Over-protection of children; refusal to correct or punish lest we lose their affection; insistence that they conform to our ideal for them contrary to their own vocation.
  • Over-readiness to advise or command; abuse of authority.
  • Respect of persons, favoritism, partiality, flattery, fawning, or bribery to win support or affection.
  • Refusal to uphold the truth to fulfil duties, to perform good acts, or to defend those wrongfully attacked, because we fear criticism or ridicule, or because we seek to gain the favor or approval of others.
  • Leading, tempting or encouraging another to sin.


  • Inordinate pursuit of wealth or material things.
  • Theft, dishonesty, misrepresentation, or sharing in stolen goods.
  • Cheating in business, taxes, school or games.
  • Making worldly success the goal of our life or the standard for judging others.


  • Waste of natural resources or personal possessions.
  • Extravagance or living beyond our income, to impress others or to maintain status.
  • Failure to pay debts.
  • Unnecessary borrowing or carelessness with others’ money.
  • Expenditure on self of what is needed for the welfare of others.


  • Undue protection of wealth or security; stinginess.
  • Refusal to support or help those who have a claim on us. 
  • Sponging on others rather than paying one’s own fair share.
  • Failure to give due proportion of our income to Church and charity, or of our time and energy to good works.

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