Combating the “Seven Deadly Sins” Through the Spiritual Practices of Recovery

As we enter into Lent, I thought it would be beneficial to list the “Seven Deadly Sins” and the grave effects they have on one’s soul. Opposite each sin, I have listed a virtue that has been given to us as a gift by the Holy Spirit. 

These virtues help us to live a life free of sin and draw us into the heart of Jesus and our neighbors. By adopting these virtues by the grace of God, we can then pick up our cross and walk with Jesus during these forty days of sacrifice, mortification, and purification. 

And we can boldly ask Him to purify our thoughts, words, and actions so that on the day we’re called to His heavenly throne He will say with love, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Corresponding Virtues 

Pride is the idolatry of myself, which leads to self-righteousness, self-deception, and self-promotion. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Humility.

Envy is the idolatry of position or status, which leads to coveting what anyone else has and bringing them down. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Generosity.

Anger is the idolatry of power, control, or justice, which leads to bitterness, judgment, and retaliation. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Gentleness.

Lust is the idolatry of sex or relationships, which leads to immorality, fornication, adultery, and pornography. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Chastity.

Gluttony is the idolatry of food, drink, or drugs, which leads to self-indulgence and false comfort through what I take into my body. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Temperance.

Greed is the idolatry of security, wealth, or money, which leads to hoarding, stealing, or using people to get ahead. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Generosity.

Sloth is the idolatry of ease and false comfort, which leads to laziness or giving up when things get difficult. We are called to combat this by striving for the virtue of Perseverance.

Pride tops the list because it can cause us to fool ourselves into thinking we’re doing alright, especially once we are sober. But being sober isn’t enough! And repeated sin can keep us in bondage and cloud our reasoning and thinking. 

The Importance of Recovery for Our Spiritual Journey

The Twelve Steps of recovery help us work toward freedom from these moral deficiencies and deadly sins. Yes, living by the spiritual principles of recovery does take time and practice. But if we give up on them or become slack in our efforts, we may fall back into the consequences of Original Sin, whereby the Devil snatches our souls and leads us back into the darkness. 

Remember, some of the greatest saints were once the biggest sinners until they humbled themselves and surrendered to God through living a life anchored around the above seven virtues. And one way to concretely live out a life of virtue is to maintain the spiritual practices of recovery combined with the sacramental life of the Church.

In prayer, ask God to reveal to you which of the “Seven Deadly Sins” are present in your life. Then go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation often and allow God’s mercy to enter and heal these areas that block the sunlight of the Spirit. 

In recovery, we go to any length to stay sober. By being rigorously honest, taking regular moral inventory, admitting when we are wrong, making amends, and seeking forgiveness we have a greater chance of living a life filled with promise and joy. And in our current society, with its attitude of “go ahead and do what you want” and “just stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours,” it’s more important than ever that we maintain the spiritual practices of recovery to combat the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

We are encouraged to stand up and proclaim the power of God who lives and moves in us in the most miraculous ways! As Catholics in recovery, we can claim victory over our addictions and their consequences. And in doing so we can reveal to our families, friends, and society what freedom from the bondage of sin looks like and encourage them to seek it for themselves through God’s mercy!

Kathleen Ann, by God’s grace, has been clean and sober since June 1, 2006. She is an active member of AA, CIR, and works part-time as the Project Rachel Coordinator in the Life office at the Diocese of Rockford, where she helps gently and confidentially guide those wounded by abortion to hope and healing in Christ Jesus. On most days you can find her at daily Mass, the gym, or caring for the needs of her family, young and old alike.