Seven Capital Sins

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

September 30, 2017

The Death of the Playboy

The year was 1970. I was in the eighth grade at St. Mark’s school in Peoria. I remember the day like it was yesterday. One of my classmates — I’ll call him Paul — brought a Polaroid picture to school to show to his friends. Paul and I were the same age — 13 years old. The person in the picture was the girlfriend of Paul’s older brother. She and Paul’s brother were in high school. She was a student at Academy of Our Lady and Paul’s brother was a student at Spalding Institute.

The picture showed the girl lying on a couch with no clothes on. She was facing the camera and was obviously posing for the picture. It was the type of picture you would see in Playboy magazine, and she was behaving like a “Playboy Bunny.” It didn’t take very long before a crowd of boys gathered around Paul to see the picture his brother had taken. Shortly after the crowd gathered, one of our teachers, James Lediger, noticed the crowd and came over to see what was going on.

By the time Paul saw Mr. Lediger, it was too late. Lediger had already seen that there was a picture and ordered the boy to turn it over to him. Lediger immediately tore up the picture into small pieces, and then asked Paul where he had obtained the picture. Then he gave a stern warning to Paul that if he ever brought another picture to school, he would be disciplined.

That incident happened 47 years ago. At the time, there were only two ways for consumers to get a photograph printed. The first way was to use a Polaroid camera, which printed the picture directly from the camera. The second was to use a camera that had film inside. In order to get pictures printed, the film had to be developed by a company that was in the business of developing and printing photographs. Back then, none of the consumer-based film processing companies were willing to print nude photographs.

April 1, 2017

April Fools and The Blind Spot

With another April Fools’ Day having come and gone, I thought I’d share some thoughts about how we fool ourselves. April Fools’ Day is all about dreaming up ways to fool other people, but on every other day of the year, we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re something we’re not.

About 20 years ago, while I was attending Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria, I heard a homily from a priest about how we all have a way of fooling ourselves. The priest was Fr. Marne Breckensiek, who at that time was the pastor of Sacred Heart Church.

Fr. Marne started his homily by talking about how when we drive a vehicle, we have to always make sure to check our side view mirror before we change lanes. He reminded us that when we check our mirror, there is always an area to the side and back of our vehicle that is not picked up by the mirror. That area is customarily called “the blind spot.”

After he reminded us of the blind spot, Fr. Marne pointed out that each of us has one or more blind spots (faults) that may be obvious to others, but that we are unaware of. He indicated that we have an obligation to ourselves and to the people around us to identify those faults and to work on eliminating them.

My daughter Teresa recently told me about a boy in one of her college classes who is incredibly lazy. She said that everyone in class, including the teacher, knows that he’s lazy. The problem is that the boy doesn’t realize how lazy he really is, and he isn’t aware of the fact that everyone around him has noticed how lazy he is. I expect that the boy would be horrified if he was made aware of the fact that his teacher and classmates have noticed that he has a serious problem with laziness.

Because of our fallen human nature, each of us has faults that are tied to one or more of the seven capital sins: pride, lust, anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, and sloth.

March 4, 2017

Sin – Coming to a Theater Near You

Beauty-Beast-PosterDuring the summer of 2008, my daughter Maria played the part of Belle in the Corn Stock Theater Production of Beauty and the Beast. At that time, she was 24 years old.

Beauty and the Beast was originally released in 1991 by Walt Disney Pictures as an animated musical and romantic fantasy. The movie was a box-office success and produced gross worldwide revenue of $425 million.

In 1994, Disney successfully launched Beauty and the Beast as a Broadway musical. After several years on Broadway, community theaters were given permission to rent the script for local productions.

The Corn Stock Production that Maria was involved in featured eight performances over a period of two weeks. I attended three of those performances. At each of the performances that I attended, there were young girls ranging in ages 4 to 10 years old who were dressed up like Belle. After each of the shows, the girls lined up with their mothers to meet Maria and to get a picture with her. It was fun watching the way the young girls behaved around Maria. They treated her as though she was a real-life princess.

The show represented the best of what Disney has always been known for: good, wholesome, family entertainment. Disney did a masterful job of combining music, dancing, romance, and conflict. As usual, in the end, good conquered evil and the prince and princess lived happily ever after.

In 2014, Disney announced that it was working on a live-action film adaption of the original 1991 animated film. After more than two years of work on the film, Disney released its first trailer in November 2016. The trailer accumulated more than 127 million views in the first 24 hours after its release, breaking all previous records for trailers. Since the release of the first trailer, Disney has done a first-rate job of promoting the film.

May 7, 2016

Responding to a Raging Critic

criticLast week I received a letter from a man who felt compelled to put me in my place. One of his comments pertained to my recent article, A Gunfighter Rides Into Peoria. In that article, I described what happened during a recent trial that I was involved in. Here’s what the man said about my article:

[Y]ou disparaged the character of a fellow attorney by stating that he didn’t care about his client and only cared about money … only the wonderful lawyer Mr. Williams cares about his clients. And then you go on to write about humility! Again, what would Jesus say? “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)

The man obviously misread what I had written. It was not a fellow attorney that I said did not care about his client. It was a neurosurgeon from Rockford, Illinois, who was hired as an “expert witness” to testify against my client. The neurosurgeon was the person who I claimed did not care about my client and only cared about the money he was being paid to testify.

Later in his letter, the man wrote about some “unscrupulous lawyers” who mistreated him and his family members. He then implied that I needed to work on my “narcissism” and closed his letter by stating, “Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.”

I’m not sure why he’s looking forward to hearing from me, considering the fact that he sent a letter that was dripping with sarcasm and contempt toward me.

I periodically receive letters from people who are upset about something I’ve written. The people who write the letters usually fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Irritation. There are occasions when a person is irritated about something I’ve written and wants to either correct me or give me an opinion as to why I was wrong about what I wrote. Usually the person is courteous and respectful in the way he or she communicates with me.
  2. Anger. When a person is angry with me about something I’ve written, the person is usually more aggressive in the way he or she criticizes me. The person usually expresses an opinion as to why I’m wrong and then proceeds to tell me what I should have written.
  3. Rage. When a person is outraged by something I’ve written, in addition to aggressively stating why I was wrong about what I wrote, the person launches into a personal attack against me by questioning my motives and attacking my character.

The definition of “rage” is “a strong feeling of anger that is difficult to control” or “a sudden expression of violent anger.” In my opinion, the man who sent the letter to me that I quoted from above was in a state of rage when he wrote the letter.

June 21, 2014

Social Media and Marriage

Prenuptial AgreementThere’s a new trend that’s been developing among couples who are getting married. They are signing prenuptial agreements that prohibit their partners from posting nude or embarrassing photos on the Internet. A prenuptial agreement has been traditionally defined as a written contract that is signed by a couple prior to marriage. The agreement provides that in the event of a divorce, the couple will be allowed to retain the property that each of them acquired during the marriage.

Prenuptial agreements have historically been used by wealthy people who are concerned that their future spouse may eventually file for divorce and claim half of their assets.

In our modern Internet age, prenuptial agreements are becoming more common among couples who may not have acquired wealth, but are concerned about the actions of their spouses in the event of a divorce. The new language that is included in these agreements is commonly referred to as “social media clauses.”

In a recent article published on the website for CBS Philly, a local television station in Philadelphia, Aaron Weems, a family law attorney in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, commented on this trend: “It’s just a way for people to really put down on paper what the expectations are, that after you’re divorced or when you’re in the midst of a divorce, you’re going to treat each other with respect.”

Weems added, “We don’t live in the age when you can just turn over the photos and burn the negatives and you’ve now prevented yourself from ever having to see something embarrassing exposed. This digital media travels and it’s difficult to remove once it’s on the Internet.”

Can you imagine your grandparents signing a written contract that prohibited them from passing around nude photos of each other to members of the public?

July 6, 2013

The American Way

American WayLast week, I reread two documents: the U.S. Constitution, which was written more than 200 years ago, and The Communist Manifesto, which was written more than 150 years ago.  James Madison and the other authors of the Constitution were primarily concerned with guaranteeing the freedom and liberty of all Americans by placing severe limitations on the power of the federal government.  Karl Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto, mapped out what would become a blueprint for dictators whose primary aim was to achieve power by exercising complete control over the lives of their citizens.

The Communist Manifesto was written in 1848, and in addition to inspiring communist dictators in the USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Venezuela, it also influenced the beliefs of Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Nazi Germany, and Franco in Spain.  It continues to provide inspiration to thousands of individuals worldwide, including the religious leaders who seek to take control of and rule over the citizens of various countries in the Middle East.

While the U.S. Constitution was designed to be an operations manual for limited government, The Communist Manifesto was designed to create conflict between the working class (the proletariat) and the wealthy and privileged class (the bourgeoisie) — those who owned and operated businesses that took advantage of the workers.

The primary purpose of The Communist Manifesto was to stir up the emotions of the workers who felt as though they were being taken advantage of by the businesses they worked for.  The remedy Marx proposed was to replace existing governmental leaders with a leader who would represent the interests of the workers.  This could be done either by an election or through revolution.

Marx made it appear as though he was for the defenseless workers.  He was a master at creating anger and resentment among the workers by claiming that wealthy business owners considered the workers to be “social scum” and the “passively rotting mass” that were to be thrown away and discarded when they were no longer useful.  (Unlike the Founding Fathers, Marx used very interesting and colorful language in his manifesto.)

February 23, 2013

The Sins of a Holy Priest

Fr. John Hardon talking with Pope John Paul, II

Fr. John Hardon talking with Pope John Paul, II

About 15 years ago, while I was at a silent men’s retreat, during a talk about the importance of confession, Fr. John Hardon revealed that he went to confession almost every day.  Later that day, while I was meeting with him, I asked, “Father, you said that you go to confession almost every day.  What sins do you commit that make you feel as though you need to go to confession every day?  I know you don’t lie or steal.  You’re never late for anything, you’re always working, and I would bet that you don’t have any problems with coveting your neighbor’s wife or goods.  What is it that makes you think you need to go to confession every day?”

Fr. Hardon smiled and responded, “If I told you, you’d be surprised.”  Without even thinking, I shot back, “Surprise me, Father!  You’re the holiest man I ever met.  I can’t imagine you doing anything on a daily basis that would make you feel the need to go to confession.  What are you doing every day that’s so offensive to God?”

Fr. Hardon appeared to be surprised by my persistence.  He looked at me and said in a kind tone of voice, “Let’s just say that most of my sins have to do with pride, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

At the time of our conversation, Fr. Hardon was in his early 80s.  Although he was frail and had ongoing health problems, his mind was as sharp as ever.

I had no idea what Fr. Hardon was talking about when he told me that most of his sins were related to pride.  Up until that time, I had never confessed any sin that I had associated with pride.  The sin of pride was nowhere to be found on my radar screen.

Of the seven capital sins – pride, lust, anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, and sloth – the most deadly is pride.  It was the sin of pride that led Lucifer to defy God and declare, “I will not serve!” and it was an appeal to pride that persuaded Eve to defy her Creator:  “…you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.”  (Genesis 3:6)

February 1, 2013

Sloth – Failure To Do God’s Work

Do you know the first words of Jesus Christ that were recorded in the Bible?  His mother asked Him why He had not told her where He had been for three days, and the twelve-year-old Son of God responded, “How is it that you sought Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  (Luke 2:49)

What was this young boy talking about?  What was His Father’s business?

Do you know the last words that were spoken by Jesus immediately prior to surrendering His life to His Father?  They were, “It is finished.”

What was our Lord talking about?  What was He finished with?

On both occasions – when He was going about His Father’s “business” and when He said that “it” was “finished” – He was referring to the work He was sent to perform on Earth.

The word “business” is defined as “purposeful activity” or “an immediate task or objective” or “a particular field of endeavor.”  Similarly, “work” is defined as “activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result.”

As children, we were taught that we were created by God to know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.  Saying that we were created to know, love, and serve God can be translated into saying that we were created to work.  We were put on this Earth to be about our Father’s business from at least the age of twelve until we are “finished.”  When are we finished?  When we die.

That brings us to the sin of sloth.  The simple definition of “sloth” is this: the failure to engage in the work – which includes the physical, mental, and spiritual activity – that we were created by God to perform.  The Modern Catholic Dictionary provides a more formal definition of sloth:

January 18, 2013

The Destructive Triangle – Covetousness, Avarice, and Greed

As you know, two of the Ten Commandments deal with covetousness: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” and “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”  Covetousness is defined as an inordinately strong desire for possessing someone or something.  In his book Victory Over Vice, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said:

Covetousness is an inordinate love of the things of this world.  It becomes inordinate if one is not guided by a reasonable end, such as a suitable provision for one’s family, or the future, or if one is too solicitous in amassing wealth, or too parsimonious [stingy] in dispensing it.  The sin of covetousness includes, therefore, both the intention one has in acquiring the goods of this world and the manner of acquiring them.  It is not the love of an excessive sum that makes it wrong, but the inordinate love of any sum.

Simply because a man has a great fortune, it does not follow that he is a covetous man.  A child with a few pennies might possibly be more covetous.  Material things are lawful and necessary to enable us to live in accordance with our station in life, to mitigate suffering, to advance the kingdom of God, and to save our souls.

It is the pursuit of wealth as an end, instead of a means to the above ends, that makes a man covetous.

We often hear the words “avarice” and “greed” used interchangeably with covetousness.  Both avarice and greed fall under the umbrella of covetousness.  The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines “avarice” as follows:

An excessive or insatiable desire for money or material things.  In its strict sense, avarice is the inordinate holding on to possessions or riches instead of using these material things for some worthwhile purpose.  Reluctance to let go of what a person owns is also avarice.

Greed occurs when a person’s avarice becomes so extreme that it has become an uncontrollable passion.  The greedy person loves wealth and material possessions to such an extent that he continually seeks to acquire and accumulate more and more for their own sake.  Over time he develops a lust for power that is fueled by his ability to use his wealth to buy influence, get what he wants, and force his will upon others.

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