Friday, December 11, 2015

A Mad Queen and Her Unhinged Army

Johann Heinrich Fussli: attribution

The undisputed queen of The Seven Deadly Sins is pride. We often see the words pride and vainglory used interchangeably when the deadly sins are listed but according to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Gregory the Great, pride is the "mother" of all sins and not in its own right one of the seven deadly sins. St. Thomas substitutes vainglory for pride when enumerating the seven deadly sins. Pride spawns the seven deadly sins since she is the mother of these. All sin ultimately has its beginning in pride.

Whenever we consider sin and its roots, it helps to keep in mind that the purpose of the seven deadly sins is to oppose virtue. By opposing virtue, the "mad queen" and her "unhinged army" lead people into an ever increasing downward spiral of  malice and licentiousness.

Why do I call pride the "mad queen" and the deadly sins her "unhinged army"? Because these sins, when firmly in place, attack sound reason. They attack the virtue of wisdom leaving the person unable to discern the true reality of things.  Have you ever wondered why so many people can't see the spiritual battle taking place in the world today? It's because their intellect has been darkened by the deadly sins and they no longer have the light to see what so clearly surrounds them. They live (to one degree or another) in an illusory world of their own making pursuant to the degree in which the deadly sins have displaced the virtues. You might call it a "spiritual madness" since the things of the spirit have been subjugated to the flesh to such a degree that the person no longer recognizes the true order of things. Without this recognition, chaos results since the divine order is displaced by disorder and charity displaced by malice.

This idea of "spiritual madness" is important to keep in mind as we look at the chaos that surrounds us in the world today. St. Thomas calls this dullness of sense "folly" and  it comes about through man's "plunging his sense into earthly things, whereby his sense is rendered incapable of perceiving Divine things". According to St. Thomas the quickest descent into this spiritual blindness is through the deadly sin of lust, which is probably why satan loves to tempt people in this area. Lust immerses itself in the flesh to the neglect of the spirit.

Pride sees itself as the center around which all things revolve. Wherever there is sin, pride's hand is there. It is a distortion of one's position in the world - a spiritual aberration that results in a skewed perspective of God, self, and others. Whereas charity looks at others though the lens of mercy, pride opposes mercy and deeply aligns itself with presumption, which is a mockery of mercy in that there is no justice in it. In other words, presumption is a mercy without justice, a love of the sin instead of the sinner. Presumption destroys justice and defaces mercy.

We see in our day a strange reluctance to call sin what it is. As a matter of fact, those who call sin what it is are despised, looked down upon and accused of lacking love for others. And, (this shows that something diabolical is at work) people who were once considered moral, upright, and holy are now considered evil. The entire moral compass of society has flipped, the axis of good has been tipped over completely to the point where a man who would have been upheld as a saint and a hero seventy years ago is now often thought of as a villain.

This "upending" of the divine order of things to the point where good is considered evil and evil considered good effects a type of anti-kingdom. And one with its very own upside-down gospel and commandments. For instance, a person who has given himself up to the Seven Deadly Sins, though he cannot see this anymore, will still follow a set of commandments though ones which oppose the true commandments. And they will believe that these are good because of the eclipse of sound reason. Thus, a person in obeisance to this unholy kingdom will usually show various traits or "signs" that manifest this bondage. The seven deadly sins are the doors which open a person, family, or country to this type of bondage. The outward signs we see in society today are simply the visible marks of an inward homage to the one who is behind the anti-gospel of our day.

It's very difficult not to lose hope when we see society disintegrating before our eyes but we must keep in mind that God is always in control, even when it seems that every which way we turn we are confronted with displays of evil that shock us to the core. There is always hope and our prayers are never in vain.

Humility is the virtue that opposes pride. If you want to quickly grow in virtue pray for humility because it puts to death pride and removes the obstacles that prevent us from acquiring the virtues. It opens up a path for them. Our Lady is the perfect model for the structure of virtues built upon the base of humility. Without some degree of humility it is almost impossible to conquer the seven deadly sins and acquire the virtues. Humility opens the heart, enabling God to pour down His graces upon us.

Now the virtues are in truth infused by God. Wherefore the first step in the acquisition of virtue may be understood in two ways. First by way of removing obstacles: and thus humility holds the first place, inasmuch as it expels pride, which "God resisteth," and makes man submissive and ever open to receive the influx of Divine grace. Hence it is written (James 4:6): "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." On this sense humility is said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice. Secondly, a thing is first among virtues directly, because it is the first step towards God.    
                                                                                                                  St Thomas Aquinas

Technically, charity is first among virtues and St Thomas does state this, but charity and humility are intimately entwined and you really can't have one without the other. In this way, humility is the first step in that it lays a solid foundation for spiritual growth. The greater our humility, the greater our growth in charity and all the other virtues as well.


  1. Sadly today many people do not recognise sin for what it is. Bad. We seem to have lost the meaning of bad in the world. And those who stand out and point out that "this is bad - this is sin" are themselves accused of being in the wrong, bigotetd, old-fashioned, not enlightened in the modern fashionable way and more besides. Before long Christians will be told that their beliefs are against "our country's moral values" and may well be (already have been) prosecuted for their beliefs.

    God bless.

  2. Mary, another bold but much needed statement. We need to hear the word sin and call a sin a sin. Thank you for your words.

  3. Thanks, Victor - you've said this so well. The world has gone mad and can no longer recognize sin for what it is. But to think it's good? That's what boggles the mind.

  4. Exactly, Mallory! Thanks for commenting. I think it's time to call a spade a spade - and maybe if we had done this all along we wouldn't be in this mess.

    1. I always used to call a spade a spade; until one day I stepped on one !!!

  5. I can guess what its new name became :)

  6. Mary, this is wonderful. Dense with truth. Every line is packed with something to ponder.

    "The entire moral compass of society has flipped."

  7. Thank you, Nancy. I'd say, the world really needs to hear truth right now. I hate watering things down when the seven deadly sins really ARE deadly. We can't even fathom the just how much so.

    But there is mercy :)

  8. Mary, what a deep article, one written so bravely, calling the worst of sins by its name. I sometimes wonder if there are layers to Pride, with Spiritual Pride being at the deepest, thus, hardest to root out. To those with this type of pride, Humility is anathema. It will not be something they will willingly seek. But we have recourse to prayer, and we can and must pray them to this powerful grace.

  9. Hi Caitlynne Grace,
    You make a good point. According to St. John of the Cross, spiritual pride is the worst. I think praying for humility helps but you may be right that many people won't willingly seek it. But I have great hope that God will change hearts, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. There will be lots of graces coming down from Heaven!

  10. Mary, I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated that people that are moral and upright are now considered bad or sinful. This worries me to no end.

    Thank you for sharing this post. God Bless you!

  11. Pride has ripped apart too many families and lives. This year, I'm going to try and live with more fervor the dictum associated with St Bernadette - to be humble, holy, hidden. May it help me to hear my Lord, and to obey Him. Wishing you a blessed and joyous 2016, Mary.

  12. I wish you the same, Caitlynne Grace :)

  13. "../charity looks at others though the lens of mercy, pride opposes mercy and deeply aligns itself with presumption..." So true! How often do I find myself presuming ill will, or just plain being critical of others in my thoughts because I mistakenly presume things about them! Really good post on the sins of pride!

  14. Thank you, Monica. I have done this too!

  15. It took me a while to read this, Mary, because it's so deep and clever. I notice that all the other commenters left some time ago, but I've been here right from the beginning, reading slowly and waiting for someone to define presumption for me so that I could write a clever response to the post (the mad queen has been keeping me company......)

    Pride as a cause of error and disunity has been on my mind, this week, as I've been reading about schisms in the Church. (This is as clever a response as I can manage, after six weeks of reading the same post, over and over - now, please excuse me, I'm off to open my Christmas presents :-D)

    I hope you write more, Mary. Your writing really is inspired and helpful.

  16. Haha! I would have known this comment was from you even if I didn't see your profile on there! Did you at least have popcorn while you waded your way through this? (If not I'll send you some before my next post. I think we can safely say it will have plenty of time to get there :) Chocolates too. )

  17. Love this! And the titles you come up with for your posts are fantastic!! They lead us into more amazing-ness!!!

  18. Thank you, Cynthia - I am grateful for the feedback!