i was reading an interesting article about bertrand russell and desire. he points to four such infinite desires — acquisitiveness, rivalry, vanity, and love ( https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-four-desires-driving-all-human-behavior-bertrand-russell-s-magnificent-nobel-prize-acceptance?utm_source=pocket-newtab ) it was a good read but i thought there was more to our desires since we catholics know about the seven capital sins. there has been a lot of commentary from some of the greatest minds in history on these vices.
so i refreshed my memory regarding these foundational sins of pride, greed, anger, envy, lust, sloth, and gluttony. generally, i like to focus on grace which saves us from all sin. since these vices are so powerful in us and our world, it is necessary to know their counterparts, the seven heavenly virtues: humility (opposed to pride), kindness (envy), temperance (gluttony), charity (greed), chastity (lust), diligence (sloth), and patience (anger).
for me, life can be seen as a dance among these virtues and vices. we can dance elegantly at times but we can often personally trip up over ourselves given the circumstances of our life. as a community, once in a while the ballroom can flow from skilled dancers in unison. but more often the case is that we bump into each other and can even knock each other to the floor during the collective dance.
grace is our remedy. we want to dance gracefully.
russell’s article did highlight a commonality through it all: desire. the longing, hoping and craving that exist in us are very powerful emotions. desire can motivate and pull us in opposite directions than that of our rational minds. our emotions can spur both good and bad behavior. emotional responses can lead to an inconsistency with what our minds tell us. maybe that is why i have always liked the verse from st paul that says, ‘for I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (romans 7: 19). our human condition is that we are broken and we cannot fix it by our own strength of will; we do not have the resources within ourselves to remedy it all. we have to live with the inconsistencies within ourselves and the world.
there is a lot of grist for the mill here on a personal level. certainly, it makes for a deeper examination of conscience. it makes for a more heartfelt repentance when i have to look at my own dark side and culpabilities.
[the vice/virtue framework can be a fascinating lens with which to look at the current political climate and various personalities of the candidates as we are two weeks away from the general election!]
the admission of our brokenness helps us to pray for the GRACE for those aforementioned heavenly virtues of humility (opposed to pride), kindness (envy), temperance (gluttony), charity (greed), chastity (lust), diligence (sloth), and patience (anger). i highlight the word grace because i have truly come to believe that it is the Spirit that enables, guides, leads, and inspires these gifts from God within us. most christians under-appreciate the power of grace in our lives.
thus the spiritual paradox: when i am weak, then i am strong.
perhaps that is why paul’s image of his struggle with the thorn in his flesh and God’s response of, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” has shaped my focus on the Spirit in my life. ( 2 cor 12 )
i am not going to make any public confessions in this post. it’s enough to say that the examination of my sins brings tears to my eyes. God’s unconditional love and mercy bring even more tears…
i close with 2 cor 1: 3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement
i read principia mathematica…long slog…
i felt that way for almost all my philosophy classes!