Marge Fenelon, Sin, Lent

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If you think it’s too late to invest in some serious spiritual reading because it’s so close to the end of Lent, then you’re dead wrong. Dead, as in deadly sin, as he and Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin (Tan Books, 2017).

I loved the previous two manuals published by Tan – Manual for Marian Devotion and Manual for Eucharistic Adoration – and was not disappointed with this latest in the series.

Written by Fr. Dennis Kolinski of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, the manual explores the Seven Deadly Sense – lust, gluttony, avarice, acedia, anger, envy, and pride – and then discusses the remedy, or contrasting virtue, for each. It’s a wealth of knowledge.

Part One consists of an introductory essay on the deadly sins and Part Two includes prayers, words of wisdom, warning, and encouragement in the struggle against deadly sin. The most beautiful aspect of this book is that, while deadly sin is a very somber subject, it’s addressed in a very uplifting and positive way. The objective, of course, is in helping us to avoid these sins.

In the introduction, Fr. Kolinski writes,

“God has engraved in the heart of man, his creature, the natural law, that the law which we ‘can’t not know.’ And so, despite a were fallen nature and propensity to sin, we should not be surprised to find in the Old Testament and in various other ancient cultures the common belief that there are certain sins that lie at the very root of all the others. The Catholic concept of the deadly sins first appeared in fifth century writings of the ascetic monk St. John Cassian, who enumerated eight of them. A century later, Pope St. Gregory the Great specified the seven deadly sins that the Church has taught ever since.”

The remedies for the deadly sentence – chastity, temperance, generosity, diligence, meekness, generosity, and humility – are treated in such a beautiful way in the second part of the book that it leads to soul to a higher level. With quotes from the catechism, Scripture, and the Saints, the manual makes these virtues come to life.

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For example, in discussing meekness as a remedy to anger, the book quotes Venerable Louis of Granada:

“When this curious enemy assails you, let the following considerations help you overcome its movements: Consider, first, that even beasts live at peace with their kind. Elephants do not war upon one another; sheep live peaceably in one fold; and cattle go together in herds. We see the cranes taking by turns the place of guard at night. Storks, stags, dolphins, and other creatures do the same. Who does not know of the friendship between the ants and bees! Even the wildest animals live united among themselves, one lion is rarely known to attack another, neither will a tiger devour one of its kind. Yes, even the infernal spirits, the first authors of all discord, are united in a common purpose – perversion of mankind. Man alone, for whom peace is most fitting, lives at enmity with his fellow man and indulges in implacable hatred. All animals are born with weapons for combat. The bull has horns; the bore has tusks; the bird has a beak and claws; the bee has a sting, and even the tiny fly or other insect has power to bite. But man, destined to live at peace with his fellow creatures, comes into the world naked and unarmed. Reflect, then, how contrary to your rightful nature it is to seek to be revenged upon one of your kind, to return evil for evil, particularly by making use of weapons which nature has denied you.

In the second place, a thirst for vengeance is a vice which befits only savage beasts. You belie your origin, you disgrace your dissent, when you would indulge in an ungovernable rage, worthy only of wild animal.”

Finally, the closing section of the book contains powerful prayers against each of the Seven Deadly Since, and prayers for their remedies. Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin is a spiritual treasure that is a must-have resource for every home.


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