The Seven Deadly Sins: Understanding the Vices and Overcoming them with Virtue

In order to combat these Seven Deadly Sins, you need to foster the Seven Remedial Virtues.

 Min read
August 21, 2023

The Seven Deadly Sins, or the seven Capital Sins as they are called in the Catechism, have been described as the sins from which all particular sins–mortal or venial–flow. 

These seven sins allow and inspire other vices to take hold and can, if left unchallenged, lead to the death of your soul.

In order to combat these Seven Deadly Sins, you need to foster the Seven Remedial Virtues. 


St. Gregory the Great called Pride “the Queen of Sins” because when pride “has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins, as if to some of her generals, to lay it waste.”

Pride led to Satan’s expulsion from heaven and the fall of mankind in the Garden; it is an exaggerated self-love that seeks to place ourselves above and before God and others. 

When Pride clouds our mind, we push God to the periphery of our lives, turning inwards and focusing on gaining money, power, possessions, and prestige to satisfy the desire for control. Pride prevents us from recognizing our need for a Savior and truly accepting Christ’s saving love. 

Remedial Virtue: Humility

Humility on the other hand can rightly be considered the root of all virtue and should not be confused with timidity or mediocrity. As St. Teresa of Avila said: “Humility is truth.” 

The virtue of Humility allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. It helps us recognize our faults and failings, and our need for a Savior; but it also helps us clearly see the gifts given to us by God to use to serve others and build up His Kingdom.

It reminds us that we are nothing without Christ, which in turns allows us to be more receptive to the many graces He wishes to pour out on us. 

We see a particularly powerful example of Humility in the Blessed Mother who takes the role of the “New Eve,” undoing the sin of our first parents with her humble submission to the will of God. 


Anger, or a desire for vengeance, isn’t always a deadly sin; anger can be righteous as for example in the episode of Christ flipping tables in the Temple. The Deadly Sin of Anger, however, might also be referred to as Wrath or anger bereft of charity which St. John Cassian refers to as a “deadly poison.”

Unlike righteous anger, Wrath often comes from an illicit or unworthy cause, is to a greater extent than has been deserved, or is directed at an undeserving target.

If left to fester and grow, it will transform into an all-consuming hatred and desire for another’s downfall.

Remedial Virtue: Meekness

To combat Wrath, you must foster the virtue of Meekness, which contrary to popular belief does not mean to be weak or passive. 

Meekness is a form of temperance or self-control that moderates anger and its effects. It allows for demanding justice when it is needed, but also restrain the impulse to simply react to a negative feeling. 

We can follow the advice of St. Hildegard of Bingen who said: “When anger tries to burn up my tabernacle, I will look to the goodness of God, Whom anger never touched… And when hatred tries to darken me, I will look to the mercy and the martyrdom of the Son of God…”

Meditating on the Crucifiction of our Lord, who did not try to harm His persecutors but rather offered them forgiveness, is a simple but efficacious way to grow in Meekness. 


The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Lust as a “disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure” (2351). It goes on to say that while sexual pleasure is a good of the sexual act, you cannot isolate it from the procreative and unitive purposes and seek it for its own sake.

God made us for intimacy and interpersonal relationship; we were made to give ourselves to another. But lust seeks only to use and to take. 

It causes us to dehumanize others, to look at another person as an object to be used for selfish gain or enjoyment.

And the consequences of this sin go well beyond harming our relationship with other people; St Thomas Aquinas says that the consequences of lust are “blindness of mind, thoughtlessness, inconstancy, rashness, self-love, hatred of God, love of this world and abhorrence or despair of a future world.” 

Remedial Virtue: Chastity

The virtue of Chastity, however, helps us to moderate our sexual appetite, though it is not an easy virtue to live out in a sex-saturated culture. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Chastity as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” which allows us to make a true, loving, and fruitful gift of ourselves to another.

Chastity excludes or moderates the indulgence of this basic human urge according to right reason and to one’s state of life. Abstinence from the sexual act is fitting for those who have not yet entered into the marital covenant, but the virtue is still exercised in a different way within the context of marriage.


Greed, also called Avarice, is the disordered love of riches. Christ gives us the commandment to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves, but the love of and desire for money or material goods can sneakily take over.

Of course, some amount of external “riches” are necessary to live, but greed, the desire to possess more, will never be satisfied. 

Greed may often take the forms of consumerism and over-working in today’s world, always focusing on consuming and producing more.

Remedial Virtue: Generosity

Opposite greed is generosity–a fruit of the Holy Spirit–whereby we give freely of what we have without resentment or feelings of attachment. 

The Lord has given us many good gifts and blessings and invites us to serve Him by sharing those gifts with others. We should specifically give from our need–as God has proven He will not be outdone in generosity.

Generosity also inspires gratitude which can help to combat the sin of Greed. 


Gluttony is immoderation in the use of food and drink but contrary to popular belief, it goes beyond just eating too much. 

Gluttony can also mean eating at an improper time, as well as eating too eagerly, too expensively, or even too daintily.

It is often not a mortal sin, but giving into gluttony can make pursuing virtue a more arduous task. 

Remedial Virtue: Temperance

The Catechism defines Temperance as “the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods” and it is considered one of the four Cardinal Virtues.

Temperance helps you gain mastery over your bodily appetites and can help you enjoy food and drink without needing to consume them in excess. 

Fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays (even outside of Lent) can help you cultivate this virtue in your own life. 


Of the Seven Deadlies, people often understand Sloth the least. Today, you will often hear sloth defined as physical laziness, but the early Church Fathers and Medieval Doctors had another word for this sin–Acedia, which means “without a care.”

Acedia, or Spiritual Sloth, is a spiritual stupor or dejection which prevents someone from prayer or ascetic practices. And it often does not look like laziness; today especially it can mean that you don’t take time to pray because you are so busy with so many other concerns. 

Remedial Virtue: Diligence

Diligence counteracts the tendency toward Acedia as it helps us form good spiritual habits and stick to them even when we find it difficult. 

It allows you to pursue excellence, particularly in your spiritual life, even when enthusiasm wanes. 

Seeking to complete each of your simple daily tasks well can help foster the virtue of Diligence which will in turn help you complete the larger, more important tasks well too. 


While often used interchangeably, Envy and jealousy are not the same thing. When someone feels jealous, they desire to possess something that someone else has. 

On the other hand, envy is a sorrow at the goodness or excellence of someone else as if it diminishes one’s own excellence or renown. 

Envy often breeds gossip, detraction, and even hatred; it may lead you to rejoice in the sufferings and setbacks of another person.  

Remedial Virtue: Charity

Charity is one of the three Theological Virtues by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. It counteracts the effects of Envy, and helps us rejoice in the goodness of another. 

When we allow Charity to grow in our hearts, we begin to recognize ourselves in communion with our brothers and sisters. When they are blessed, we are blessed. 

Pietra Fitness offers meditations on the Seven Deadly Sins and their Remedial Virtues in the series: Crushing Our Vices that will help you get stronger physically and spiritually. 

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