Simple Books and Deadly Sins

How can a little light summer reading about prioritizing your faith life bring you to your spiritual knees?

After reading a simple and virtuous book this summer, I was compelled to look inward at the sins that lie in opposition to the virtues of faith, hope, and love. The book was called Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities that Make Life Work by Lisa Brenninkmeyer. The book was a “how to” for ordering your life towards God, prayer life, marriage, children, and friendships.

One of the key steps to getting your priorities ordered is figuring out the sin patterns that are in the driver’s seat in your life.

The author listed a few essentials in the beginning of the book and these essentials proved to be very profound in my self-reflection. I met with women from my parish to discuss the book and hearing their reflections was very enlightening. The author called upon the reader to think about what motivates her: pride, sensuality, or the desire to be a people pleaser. Of course, being motivated by these things will often lead to sin, and even deadly ones at that.

  • In opposition to the sin of pride is the virtue of faith.
  • In opposition to the sin of sensuality is the virtue of hope.  
  • In opposition to the sin of people pleasing is the virtue of love.

As I read this book and prepared for the group discussion to follow, I thought I knew myself so well. I was so sure, I am a people pleaser, DONE, and that is that. I always want everyone around me to be happy and I usually will make sacrifices in order please everyone. Being on the wrong side of someone is not my cuppa joe ya know. I will even get myself into a pickle being overcommitted to any number of people for any number of reasons. Being double-booked is not an unheard of dilemma for me.

Sitting in the discussion I was hanging back and listening to everyone share and then it hit me smack in the middle of the forehead. As my fellow group member shared her dilemma about which one of these sins motivates her, she said, “well I usually am always trying to please everyone”. Um yep, can relate . . . .  So my soul sister continued and said “but then I realized that even though I try to make everyone happy, I always try to satiate my desires FIRST!”   

And there it was staring me in the face. I’m not a people pleaser! I think of myself and my wants first. The satisfaction of my own senses is actually what motivates me. I think! Aren’t I guilty of all 3 sins? Thankfully I was guided by another member of our discussion who said: If you are having trouble identifying which problem ails you, ask yourself which one of these do you confess the most?

Yes, of course, there it was staring me in the face, as usual, my good old pal, gluttony and her best friend despair. Yes, gluttony, the satisfaction of our senses above all else. To take in our worldly and bodily needs before we trust in the Lord. Satisfying our senses in a material way at the expense of serving others or developing our prayer life can lead to that hopeless feeling that we all know is a separation from God.

Where do I seek my security? Often I find I do not seek it in the Lord and his love for me as his daughter. In this concrete and material world I look for my comforts right in front of me. This is what it means to be motivated by sensuality. I look to the satisfaction of my senses first through any number of material items, but mostly it would be food, shopping, social media, you name it, all the general distractions that separate me from God and satisfy my worldly desires.

My light summer reading taught me that I can’t really prioritize my life towards God if I do not seek to overcome the sin that motivates me. Looking at these sins and my lack of virtue because of these sins has led me to a deeper ability to examine and so a more profound experience in the sacrament of confession.

Now, I can start putting my priorities in order.

Christina Gignoux