Part 6: Envy
Let's talk about sin, shall we? The following is part six of our weekly Lenten series on the Seven Deadly Sins.
By Chris Sparks (March 25, 2015)
One of the signs of a good Catholic is that they profess they are a bad Catholic.
They make this profession every single time they go to Confession; every single time they pray the Confiteor and the Kyrie at Mass; every time they pray the Our Father, asking for forgiveness for their sins; every time they pray the Hail Mary, asking her to pray for us sinners.
A good Catholic should know — must know — that they are a bad Catholic. As Fr. Robert Barron explained in his Catholicism DVD series, a saint sees how very sinful they are because they are looking at Christ, the Light of the World. Just as a person will not see all the smudges on their windshield until they are driving toward the sun, so too do we not see all the smudges on our soul until we are driving toward the Son.
As long as we keep the two great realities of our own sin and God's merciful love firmly in view, we're prevented both from presumption and despair. We will tend toward gratitude to the great goodness of God and His generosity to us, even though we are sinners. We will also steer clear of the deadly sin of envy, or sorrow over the blessings and successes of others.
I won't furiously rage against the unfairness of a world that gives that unworthy person over there some great good that I lack, that should have come to me. I won't feel betrayed when my neighbor is wealthier, or more handsome, or has more friends, or is healthier, or is more successful in the apostolate, or is making thousands of converts, or ... or ... or ...
Envy can creep into our hearts, even within the Church, even among people laboring in the vineyard of the Lord for the growth of the kingdom of God. Saint Faustina wrote of envy arising within her own congregation at many points in her Diary, and records the Lord's response:
There are souls with whom I can do nothing. They are souls that are continuously observing others, but know nothing of what is going on within their own selves. They talk about others continually, even during times of grand silence, which is reserved for speaking only with Me. Poor souls, they do not hear My words; their interior remains empty. They do not look for Me within their own hearts, but in idle talk, where I am never to be found. They sense their emptiness, but they do not recognize their own guilt, while souls in whom I reign completely are a constant source of remorse to them. Instead of correcting themselves, their hearts swell with envy, and if they do not come to their senses, they plunge in even deeper. A heart, which thus far is envious, now begins to be filled with hate. And they are already at the edge of the precipice. They are jealous of my gifts in other souls, but they themselves are unable and unwilling to accept them (Diary, 1717).
Let us ask the intercession of St. Faustina and the Blessed Mother for the grace to recognize envy when it's present in our hearts and to root it out through praise of God's goodness, thanksgiving for His blessings, and the honest confession of our own sinfulness.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Follow our seven-part series.