Rejoice and Be Converted

Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent which is frequently known by the Latin word that opens the entrance antiphon. And that word is laetare. Laetare means rejoice. And as we enter the church on this fourth Sunday in Lent we are met with the command to rejoice.

And on this Rejoice Sunday we are given the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is one of the best-known parables of the Gospels, and it has been covered many times over by better preachers than me. So if you heard it all before, my deepest apologies.

But what strikes me on reading the scriptures for today is how the reading from Saint Paul’s letter ties in with the parable to show us that the life of Grace replaces the life of the Mosaic law, as the Old Covenant is fulfilled in the New Covenant, the New Covenant which will be sealed by Jesus Christ’s passion and death and resurrection.

Continue reading “Rejoice and Be Converted”

Father Almighty

So far we have covered the beginning of the Creed, and we have covered the words: “I believe in God.” The next concept is the Father Almighty. And Monsignor Knox uses this to take a look at the problem of suffering. People struggle with the fact that a loving God who is Almighty doesn’t seem to fit with the suffering that we see in the world today. The objection is that either God is not loving or he is not Almighty, if he were then these things wouldn’t happen to good people. 

Monsignor Knox suggests that when we have these types of reactions, we are being driven more by the feelings of the heart than the reasonings of the brain. He uses the example of when we lose a loved one. In our grief, we ask could God have prevented this from happening? And if he couldn’t then he’s not almighty God. And if he could but he didn’t, then he is certainly not my loving father. 

That’s the nature of our emotional response to suffering. So Monsignor Knox clarifies what we mean when we say that God is Almighty. And what we mean is that he is Almighty in the sense that no limits can be imposed on him by anything outside of him. In our earlier discussion about how he is the first cause, we concluded that unless we are going to accept the absurdity of endless causes, there must be an uncaused case, which we understand is God, the First Mover. From that starting point, we understand that nothing can happen unless in some sense God wills it. So he is not powerless to prevent human suffering. And because God is a god of order, he will not do anything that is against reason. That’s the principle of noncontradiction that we discussed last week. For example, God couldn’t create two equal sized things and it also be true that one of them was larger than the other. So that limit is imposed by God himself on himself: that he doesn’t create illogical absurdities. And part of why that makes sense is because God is truth. And it is untrue that two things can be equal sized and yet one is larger than the other. That’s the kind of illogical absurdity that God limits himself from participating in. 

Continue reading “Father Almighty”

Hungry to Know Our Dignity

The talk will revolve around the parable of the Prodigal Son and St. Pope John Paul II’s 1980 encyclical on the Mercy of God known by its Latin title, “Dives in Misericordia.”

Because one is never sure of the depth of an audience’s familiarity with the Bible, let me give you a very brief synopsis of the parable of the Prodigal Son. A rich man has two sons, and the older son is a dutiful and obedient and quiet man who does what his father expects him to do. The younger son is impatient. At the beginning of the story, he is impatient to receive his inheritance, and so he asks for it from his father so that he will have it before his father dies. His father agrees. So the young man takes his new wealth and goes off to foreign lands and squanders it on wine and women. Out of money and down on his luck, he has to take a job feeding the pigs. In that low position, he admits the reality of what he has done, and decides to go back to his father and seek employment as a servant rather than to be returned to his status as the son. As the younger son is approaching his home, the father sees him and runs out and embraces him and gives him new clothes and a ring and says, “let’s have a big party because my son has returned.” The older brother seems a bit put out by this generosity, and he points out that he has never even asked for one little thing but always done what his father asked of him and yet his father has never given him a party.

While the older brother is very interesting, let’s leave him by the wayside and focus on the Prodigal Son – the younger son – and the loving father. I have heard, you may have heard this too, that this story could also be called the parable of the loving father. And John Paul II suggests that in this story we see the essence of Divine Mercy in the profound drama that plays out between the Father’s Love and the wastefulness and sin of the younger son.

Continue reading “Hungry to Know Our Dignity”

The Creed in Slow Motion Pt 1.


Ronald Knox was an Anglican whose conversion was partly due to his relationship with G.K. Chesterton, a famous public Catholic intellectual at the time. Having gone through the English upper-class education system and been ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, he was brought into the Catholic Church in 1917 and quickly ordained a priest in the Catholic Church.

Recognized for his scholarship and his writing, the English bishops tasked him with translating the Vulgate into English. The English translation everyone used was called the Douay-Rheims Bible and was translated about the same time as the King James version in the early 1600s.

Msgr. Knox was sent to a rural convent so he could work undistracted, but soon after the War started, many urban girls were sent there for safety, and he became the chaplain to this impromptu school for girls. After three years together, he decided to use his sermon time in a different way. He chose to lead them through the Apostle’s Creed – the one we say at the beginning of the Rosary, not the one we say at Mass. At that time, the Mass was prayed in Latin, and all the girls would know the Latin prayers, which is why his commentaries are full of bits of Latin.


Msgr. Knox starts with the first word of the Creed: Credo. (This is why we call it the Creed, for it is a profession of faith and the first word is the Latin word for the phrase “I believe” in English.

As we go through the Creed, I will try to provide you with the Latin, the English words translated faithfully, and then the English written out as we would write English.

He asks the question, “Why ‘I believe’ instead of ‘we believe’ in the middle of Mass, which is our great communal celebration. Think about the opening rites of our Mass, in which we confess our sins and then sing the Gloria. Sometimes we pray the prayer in the group setting but emphasize the singular – as in the Credo and the Confiteor – while other times we pray in the group but emphasize the collective – as in the Gloria: we praise thee (laudamus te), we bless thee (benedicimus te), we adore thee (adoramus te), we glorify thee (glorificamus te).

So, what is going on here? What is significant about the use of the first person singular or the first person plural?

When we sing the Gloria, we are like the glorious company of the Apostles in Heaven losing ourselves in our song of praise to God. We join in the chorus of praise and adoration of the Almighty.

When we recite the Creed – alone or in a group – we are declaring our personal belief in the doctrines of the Church. The “I” is critical, for we are personally responsible for our declaration of faith. The Creed is what the Church believes in a very distilled form. I am declaring myself in union with the Church when I recite the Creed. I may not understand the fullness of each doctrine, but I am declaring my faith in each one.

And the same personal responsibility applies when it comes to confessing our sins. We just completed a long examination of moral questions so that we could prepare well for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we walk into the confessional, the priest expects us to confess our sins, not the sins of others. (Wouldn’t that be so much more fun!)

If I find there are parts of the Creed I do not believe, then I should consider studying and seeking some help from a qualified person to help my grow in my understanding to the point that I do believe. Or, perhaps, I should be honest about my lack of belief, my lack of faith, and stop reciting it.

Once a year at Easter, we substitute a Profession of Faith for the Nicene Creed, so that the doctrines are posed as questions and the people answer “I do.” If you have been to a baptism, you have heard the same format. Each time we pray the Creed, we are renewing our commitment to the faith, and this personal statement is critical if we are to have a personal relationship with our Lord.

Msgr. Knox points out that the belief embedded in the Creed is not the same thing as the belief that credulous or gullible people believe. He says:

The difference between being a credulous person and being a sensible person isn’t a question of HOW MANY things you believe; it’s a question of whether you believe the RIGHT things; that is whether you demand the right kind of evidence before you believe a thing or not. (p.4)

He cites newspaper reports of the Loch Ness Monster, but we could talk about people who believe what they see on Tiktok or Twitter. We should not believe it just because we read about it on social media. But, on the other hand, if you get persistent and similar reports from multiple sources you regard as sensible and truthful, then it is foolish not to believe it – even if you also saw it on social media.

Many of the historical items in the gospels are confirmed by non-religious sources. That Pilate was there is confirmed by Jewish sources. That crucifixion was a means of execution at the time was confirmed by many other examples of Romans using it.

Knox then points out that to believe a thing is not the same as not denying it. It means focusing your mind on it until you care about it enough to want to really know whether it is true or not. If you really believe a thing, it becomes part of the make-up of your mind. In the case of the Creed, our faith becomes the framework for how we interact with the world and the lens through which we see the world.

More Logic

One of the bases for belief in the Creed is the reliability of the Catholic Church. The Church will be mentioned directly later in the Creed, but as we have already seen in earlier sessions, the Church has the job of protecting the deposit of the faith, and it is protected from error in matters of faith and morals by the Holy Spirit, which is something we get directly from the mouth of Jesus in the gospels.

Msgr. Knox then points out that some things don’t have to be believed entirely on the authority of the Church, and he pivots to some of the ways that St. Thomas Aquinas proved the existence of God on the basis of reason alone.

A prerequisite of reason and logical thinking is the principle of non-contradiction. It means that two statements that are opposite cannot both be true. One cannot truthfully say, “I am a man” and also declare “I am a woman.” One cannot be both; one must be either male or female. This fundamental truth is under assault today, and many self-declared smart people endorse what is called “gender fluidity,” but all of this is illogical thinking because it violates the principle of non-contradiction. In our study of the moral life, we learned what a sin is. Well, if murder is a sin, then murder cannot not be a sin. When somebody confesses to murder but does not see it as an immoral act, then he has departed from rationality. He is declaring as true something that cannot be true.

A second important concept is the idea that logic cannot end in a dead end. We cannot end up in self-contradiction, nor can we end up in falsehood. And more commonly, we cannot end up in an endless repetition of the same premise over and over. This one is very common for anyone who has talked with inquisitive young boys, for they love to ask “why” to the answer of every question. There always seems to be something that came before the last thing we listed. If every event has a cause, then we will be stuck in an endless circle of causes. And that is reduction to the absurd. In order to not end up there, we must consider that there is a First Cause, something that does not have a prior cause. That first cause is God, according to St. Thomas Aquinas and Msgr. Knox. 

Knox then walks the girls through the proof based on intelligent design. Seeing the order of the universe, logically one can conclude there was a designer, for otherwise we would see randomness and chaos but we do not. That designer is God.

The Four Temperaments

The pattern of inclinations and reactions that proceed from the physiological constitution of the individual. Something permanent that admits of only secondary modification. (OUR WIRING.)

Sanguine Temperament

  • Reacts quickly and strongly to almost any stimulation or impression
  • Reaction is usually of short duration
  • Remembrance of past experiences does not easily arouse a new response.
  • Usually have a serene view of life and are optimists.
  • Tend to idealize rather than criticize.
  • Alert intellects, learn quickly if not deeply
  • Principal defects: superficiality, inconstancy, sensuality, hasty judgements
  • Quickly repent of sins, easily return to them.

Melancholic Temperament

  • Difficult to arouse, but after repeated impressions the reaction is strong and listing; does not forget easily.
  • Inclined to reflection, piety, the interior life, compassionate to the suffering, attracted to corporal works of mercy, endure suffering heroically.
  • Sharp intellect, thorough thinkers; may become detached in their intellectual interior.
  • Normally do not experience the vehement passions that may torment the sanguine.
  • Exaggerated tendency to sadness, magnify difficulties; excessive reserve, scrupulosity. Suffer in silence; do not reveal themselves, tend toward pessimism.

Choleric Temperament

  • Reacts quickly and strongly to almost any stimulation or impression
  • Impression lasts a long time
  • Inclined to practical action (work) rather than theoretical speculation
  • Quick to work the plan made/direction chosen; likewise to overcome obstacles
  • Postively channeled: great saints; negatively channeled: great sinners
  • Principal defects: obstinancy, insensitivity to others’ feelings, tactlessness, impatience
  • Can be of great worth if they succeed in controlling and guiding their energies
  • Key to spiritual growth: cultivate true humility of heart

Phlegmatic Temperament

  • Emotions rarely aroused, and if so, only weakly
  • Work slowly but assiduously, tranquil, discreet, sober
  • Great deal of commonsense and mental balance
  • Do not possess
    • the inflammable passions of the sanguine temperament
    • the deep passions of the melancholic temperament
    • the ardent passions of the choleric temperament
  • Defects: tendency toward remoteness; disengaged from events and people around them

Using Temperaments in Self-Examination

  • Temperaments are our wiring.
  • The Devil uses our wiring against us.
  • Together with a Root Sin analysis, we have greater understanding in how we are attacked by the Devil and why those attacks are successful.
  • Habits are “dwellings of behavior” – Temperaments help/hinder formation of good habits, replacement of bad habits.

How to Have a Fruitful Lent

by Helen Young


From the USSCB:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
  • For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
  • Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.
  • If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

How to have a transformational Lent (suggestion of Dan Burke).  Focus on two things:

  1.  Pick something you will give up during Lent ( a good thing) and which you can joyfully do again at the feast of the Resurrection
  2. Pick one thing your will retain as a spiritual focus point for the rest of the year (pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you an area)

Getting Serious:

  1.  Make a solemn commitment and write it down
  2. Be specific
  3. Ask God for the Grace you to fulfill it
  4. Aggressively seek accountability and daily Examen

Three days until Ash Wednesday

Three days left to prepare to have the most fruitful Lent you’ve ever had!

How often do we wait until the last minute, either Tuesday night before or Ash Wednesday morning, to decide what to ‘give up’ or ‘take on’ without prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in the right direction? We are just checking the box of being a good Catholic Christian and giving up something for Lent without stopping to think about why it is that we have this season of Lent.

What the Lord really wants from us all the time is all of our love. He wants our hearts, minds and souls – radical self-giving.   And what we mostly give Him is a little bit of affection.  Let’s be radical this Lent and pray and discern exactly where in our lives it is that we most need to let God in and the Light purify us so that we can give more of ourselves to Him and let His love change us.   Let’s examine our lives in light of these sins and see where it is we need to focus, be it:

  • gluttony (lack of control over what we eat or drink)
  • sloth (no time to pray, skipping Mass, not going to confession, spending too much time on computers or devices)
  • pride (I’m in control of my life and I don’t need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His will not mine, I have it all together and don’t need to stop and ask God what His will is, I know all of the answers to everything)
  • vanity (what others think of me is more important than what God thinks of me and controls my actions and I contort myself to please others)
  • anger (am I impatient with my family members or co-workers, do I lose my cool in traffic, do I sometimes totally blow my fuse)
  • lust (can be sexual or material, does my desire for sexual pleasure or sensual appetites control my thoughts)
  • envy (do I spend a lot of time on social media comparing my life to others and wanting what they have instead of being grateful for the many blessing God provides)

Over the next three days, let us all pick one area where we will hone in and with God’s help and the grace of the sacraments try to grow spiritually and weed out the vice and grow in virtue. 

Remember an action plan is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Be specific when you write out your Lenten plan.


As an example:

I am going to work on self-control for Lent, because my root sin is sensuality, my virtue struggle is temperance, and my temperament is mostly Sanguine ( I hop from thing to thing spiritually, need focus).  I hope to get out of myself and not think about pleasure so much.  I desire to focus more on and think about God more than Helen. I also desire to be love in the community in the way God calls me to do that.  Focus on love.

  • What am I giving up?
    • I am giving up coffee (super hard)
    • I am not buying anything for myself, giving up greed
    • When I go out to eat, I will pick my second choice not my first choice
  • What am I taking on?
    • Reading I Believe in Love and Consecration to Divine Mercy
    • Praying Divine Mercy Chaplet every day (this will continue after Lent)
  • Almsgiving
    • Giving money to Hermits of Mt Carmel, Sisters in Arizona, Sisters of Life

Lenten Disciplines

This is the last Sunday before we start the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday. If we have not already been thinking about them, we need to think about the Lenten disciplines of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting that we will begin in a few days.

The scripture for today directs our minds to the deeper meaning of those Lenten disciplines. Lent is about much more than not eating goodies, and adding the Stations of the Cross to our Fridays, and putting spare change away for the poor. These are all good things, but they are not ends in themselves. Lent has an end, and Lent has a purpose. The readings today give us clues to that end and to that purpose.

Anyone familiar with the Church calendar knows that Lent ends with the Easter Vigil Mass on the night of Holy Saturday. In one way, that is the end of Lent. The end in time, so to speak. But what about the end as in the reason we do what we do during Lent? What is the end purpose and spiritual end of Lent?

The reading from Sirach today offers an answer: “tribulation is the test of the just.” Sirach is full of wisdom, and he expresses his thoughts in simple language, as he says, “As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.” If you remember the art class project to make a clay bowl, the teacher always warned us to knead the clay thoroughly because air bubbles might mean the bowl would explode when it was heated in the kiln. Heating in the kiln proves the bowl is ready for use. Heating in the kiln is how the bowl can become fully formed for its purpose.

Well, we are the clay and God is the potter, and he gives us chances to be tested under tribulation. We know he loves us, for we can think back in our lives to the times when he met us where we were. We were lonely and he sent an angel of friendship. We were in need, and he sent an angel of generosity. We were tied up in lives of habitual self-destruction, and he sent an angel of strength to pull us up and set us on our feet again.

God loves us enough to meet us where we are, and he loves us even more, for he does not want us to stay there. After rescuing us, He invites us to walk with him on the journey of our lives, so that we can meet him where he is at the end of the journey.

And Lent is a time to practice those things that will prepare us to meet him at the end of our lives. Sirach uses the image of sifting today: “When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.” The journey of our lives involves a lot of being shaken in our sifter so that the earthly attachments can fall out and the devotion to God can remain. Hear again Sirach’s words: “in tribulation is the test of the just.”

We want to be counted among the just when Jesus comes in judgment, so we should really try to welcome tribulation because it is the test of the just. We are the clay in the kiln, waiting for the day when we can be taken out of the oven and put where we were made to be. But we are not actually clay, are we? We are human persons, endowed with intellect and will. We choose to try to be numbered among the just, and we seek understanding on how to achieve our goal.

That’s where the Lenten disciplines come in.

Fasting is not an end in itself; it is the means to an end. In our secular world, fasting is a form of dieting. In the Christian world, fasting is a form of prayer through self-denial. We give up something we may rightfully have so that we can be more conformed to Christ. Christ gave up everything for us, and his self-sacrifice is our model and how God made us to be.

Prayer is pretty straightforward, but it is not an end in itself; it is the means to a closer relationship with God.  God made us to be in close relationship with Him. St. Paul, in one of his letters, told us to “pray without ceasing.” Most of us do not meet that standard, but that is the end God made us for. And Lent gives us a set time in the year to add to our prayer lives and get a little bit more conformed to Christ.

Almsgiving is also not an end in itself; the intention of the giver is very important. All our talents were given to us by God, and he gives his gifts freely and joyfully. Lenten almsgiving is a chance to practice liberality in our giving of money. I know a couple of guys who have always gripped their money tightly. We are pretty sure that when they both grabbed the same penny and pulled, they invented copper wire. All of us are tempted into gripping our money too tightly. Lent is a time to loosen our grip on money and grow in generosity so that we are more like the eternally generous God who made us.

Lent is six weeks long, with 40 days of fasting. It’s almost a perfect tithe of a year. Maintaining these disciplines will stretch us, and there will be days in Lent when we might regret giving up coffee or ice cream or whatever else we gave up. At those points, let us be reminded by the words of St. Paul in today’s epistle.

“be always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Lent is a season of prayer. Lent is a season of preparation for the gift Jesus came at Christmas to give us: the gift of redemption on the Cross on Good Friday and the joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Our Lenten labors are the work of the Lord, and we do not labor in vain when we do them.

The purpose of our lives is to know, to love, and to serve God, so we can be with him in the next life. He continually comes down to our level and helps us in our struggles. Lent is a time to focus on being ready to meet him on his level. God’s level is Heaven, where there is no money and no eating. So in Lent we work to lessen our attachments to earthly things through almsgiving and fasting. In Heaven, there is constant prayer to the Lamb upon his throne, so in Lent we work to become more comfortable with more prayer.

We are about to receive our Lord at Holy Communion, and we will receive innumerable graces in the sacrament. Let’s use Lent as a time of grace to conform ourselves more closely to Christ through self-sacrifice and prayer.


The desire for glory when glory is due to God alone, hence vain (empty) glory.

St. Thomas’ three ways glory can be vain

  1. the things for which one seeks glory are vain or petty – WRONG THINGS
  2. the persons from whom one seeks glory are uncertain or lacking in judgment – WRONG PEOPLE
  3. the end for which glory is sought is not to magnify God – WRONG REASONS

It is requisite for man’s perfection that he should know himself; but not that he should be known by others. Vainglory is stated to be a dangerous sin, not only on account of its gravity, but also because it is a disposition to grave sins, in so far as it renders man presumptuous and too self-confident.

Just as by the glory which is in God’s sight man acquires honor in Divine things, so too by the glory which is in the sight of man he acquires excellence in human things. Hence on account of its close connection with excellence, which men desire above all, it follows that it is most desirable.


  • “Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vainglory.” Philippians 2:3
  • “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:1
  • “Vainglory is the glory that we give ourselves; either for what is not really in us, or for what is in fact in us but not owing to anything we did, or for what is in us and owning to us but which does not deserve to be the cause of a boast.” St. Francis de Sales


  • disobedience: a man refuses to carry out the command of his superiors
  • boastfulness: speaking in such a way as to obtain more glory
  • hypocrisy: manifesting one’s own excellence through falsehoods
  • contention: a man quarrels noisily with another; always have to have it/do it my way
  • obstinacy: intellectual pride, unable to be seen as less than excellent in intellectual areas, a man is too much attached to his own opinion; failing to yield a point well made but not mine?
  • discord: a man is unwilling to give up his own will and agree with others; always against things, never for anything
  • love of novelties: glorifying man’s deeds when they are truly excellent

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

PRIDE: Pride is putting self in the place of God as the center and objective of our life. It is the refusal to recognize our status as creatures, dependent on God for our existence, and placed by him in a specific relationship to the rest of his creation.


  • Deliberate neglect of the worship of God every Sunday in his Church, or contentment with a perfunctory participation in it.
  • Failure to thank God or to express our gratitude adequately. 
  • Disrespect for God or holy things by deliberately treating the, in thought, word, or deed, in a profane, contemptuous or over-familiar manner, or the attempt to bribe or placate God by religious practices or promises.


  • Dependence on self rather than God, with the consequent neglect of the means of grace – sacraments and prayer. 
  • Dispensation of ourselves from ordinary duties on the grounds that we are superior persons. 
  • Satisfaction or complacency over our spiritual achievements. 
  • Unwillingness to surrender to and abide in Christ, to let him act in and through us. 
  • Failure to offer to God regularly in intercession the persons or causes that have, or should enlist our interest and support.


  • Refusal to recognize God’s wisdom, providence and love. Worry, anxiety, misgivings, scrupulosity, or perfectionism. 
  • Attempts to discern or control the future by spiritualism, astrology, fortune-telling or the like. 
  • Over-sensitiveness: expectation that others will dislike, reject or mistreat us; over-readiness so to interpret their attitude, or quickness to take offense, or unfounded suspicions. 
  • Timidity in accepting responsibility, or cowardice in facing difficulty or suffering. 
  • Surrender to feelings of depression, gloom, pessimism, discouragement, self-pity, or fear of death, instead of fighting to be brave, cheerful and hopeful.


  • Rejection of God’s known will in favor of our own interests or pleasures. 
  • Disobedience of the legitimate laws, regulations or authority of the Church, state, etc., or slow and reluctant obedience. 
  • Failure when in authority to fulfil responsibilities or to consider the best interest of those under us. 
  • Refusal to learn God’s nature or will as revealed in Scripture, expounded in instructions or expert advice, or discernible through prayer, meditation or the reading of religious books. 


  • Refusal to search out and face up to our sins, or to confess and admit them before God. 
  • Disregard of our sins or pretense that we are better than we are. 
  • Self-justification or discounting our sins as insignificant, natural or inevitable. 
  • Self-righteous comparison of ourselves with others. 
  • Refusal to accept just punishment or to make due reparation when possible. 
  • Deceit or lying to escape the consequences of our sins, or allowing another to suffer the blame for our faults. 
  • Shame (hurt pride), sorrow for ourselves because our sins make us less respectable than we like to think we are, or because we fear punishment or injury to our reputation, rather than sorrow for what sin is in the eyes of God. 
  • Refusal to admit we were in the wrong or to apologize, or refusal to accept forgiveness from God or others. 
  • Unwillingness to forgive ourselves.


  • Crediting to ourselves rather than to God our talents, abilities, insights, accomplishments, good works. 
  • Refusal to admit indebtedness to others, or adequately to express gratitude for their help. 
  • Hypocrisy, pretense to virtues we do not possess, or false humility. 
  • Harsh judgments on others for faults we excuse in ourselves. 
  • Boasting, exaggeration, drawing attention to ourselves by talking too much, by claiming ability, wisdom, experience or influence we do not have.
  • Seeking, desiring or relishing flattery or compliments.


  • Insisting that others conform to our wishes, recognize our leadership, accept our own estimate of our worth. 
  • Being overbearing, argumentative, opinionated, obstinate.


  • Pride over race, family, position, personality, education, skill, achievements, or possessions.


Sloth seeks undue rest in so far as it spurns the Divine good

Sloth is not an aversion of the mind from any spiritual good, but from the Divine good, to which the mind is obliged to adhere.

He is sorry to have to do something for God’s sake.

Evil in itself (sadness in reaction to the highest goods – God’s good) and evil in its effects (keeps us from performing acts of good).


  • St. John Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 14) is an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs upon man’s mind, that he wants to do nothing.
  • “A paralysis of the soul, a slackness of mind, a neglect of religious exercises, a hostility to vows taken.” St. John Climacus


  • malice: The struggle against spiritual goods that cause sorrow sometimes extends to the spiritual goods themselves, when a man goes so far as to detest them. Not happy about the spiritual goods.
  • spite: The struggle against spiritual goods that cause sorrow is sometimes with men who lead others to spiritual goods. Not happy about those who lead others to spiritual goods, or the means to the spiritual goods. A kind of indignation.
  • faint-heartedness: avoidance of those goods which are the means to the end, in matters of difficulty which come under the counsel
  • despair: the result of avoiding spiritual goods
  • sluggishness in regard to the commandments: keeping the Sabbath holy, honoring father and mother
  • wandering of the mind after unlawful things: when a person has recourse to eternal objects of pleasure; so apathetic about spiritual goods I am easily distracted 

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

SLOTH: Sloth is the refusal to respond to our opportunities for growth, service or sacrifice.


  • Indolence in performing spiritual, mental, or physical duties, or neglect of family, business or social obligations.
  • Procrastination of disliked tasks.
  • Busyness or triviality to avoid more important commitments.
  • Devotion of excessive time to rest, recreation. or amusement.


  • Unconcern over injustice to others, especially that caused by currently accepted social standards; or unmindfulness of the suffering of the world.
  • Failure to become adequately informed on both sides of contemporary issues or on the Christian principles involved.
  • Ignoring the needy, lonely or unpopular person in our own or the parish family, or in the neighborhood; or unwillingness to minister to them.
  • Insufficient attention to the religious and other needs of our family.


Unreasoned anger, willing injury or damage to the object of one’s anger, unreasoned either due to the object of the anger or the mode of the anger.


  • “Let all indignation and anger be put away from you.” Ephesians 4:31
  • St. Gregory: “zealous anger troubles the eye of reason, whereas sinful anger blinds it.”


  • quarreling: anger leading to deeds, injuries inflicted on one’s neighbor through anger
  • swelling of the mind: the growing of the idea to take vengeance; calm and rational thoughts are overwhelmed by growing thoughts of revenge
  • contumely: injurious words towards one’s neighbor; purposely insulting or reviling another person
  • clamor: anger expressed towards his brother in disorderly and confused speech; thoughtless, vulgar words of rage
  • indignation: the anger from deeming another unworthy of acting in a certain way towards oneself
  • blasphemy: the injurious words against God that proceeds from anger

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

ANGER: Anger is open rebellion against God or our fellow creatures. Its purpose and desire is to eliminate any obstacle to our self-seeking, to retaliate against any threat to our security, to avenge any insult or injury to our person.


  • Refusal to discern, accept or fulfil God’s vocation.
  • Dissatisfaction with the talents, abilities or opportunities he has given us.
  • Unwillingness to face up to difficulties or sacrifices.
  • Unjustified rebellion or complaint at the circumstances of our lives.
  • Escape from reality or the attempt to force our will upon it.
  • Transference to God, to our parents, to society, etc., the blame for our maladjustment; hatred of God, or anti-social behavior.
  • Cynicism.
  • Annoyance at the contrariness of things; profanity or grumbling.


  • Attack upon another in anger.
  • Murder in deed or desire.
  • Combativeness or nursing of grudges.
  • Injury to another by striking, curing or insulting him; or by damaging his reputation or property.
  • Quarrelsomeness, bickering, contradiction, nagging, rudeness, or snubbing.


  • Vengeance for wrongs real or imagined, or the plotting thereof.
  • Harsh or excessive punishment.
  • Hostility, sullenness or rash judgment.
  • Refusal to forgive, or to offer or accept reconciliation.
  • Unwillingness to love, to do good to, or to pray for enemies.
  • Boycotting or ostracizing another for selfish reasons.
  • Spoiling others’ pleasure by uncooperativeness or disdain, because we have not got our way.