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Review by Pravin Thevathasa

Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin
Fr Dennis Kolinski, SJC,
TAN Books

It has been a long hot summer, a summer of shame, they call it. Like many others, I have reflected deeply on the current crises in the Church and I have done so with the help of this superb little book. I am now convinced more than ever that the crises we face, and there is more than one, are due to our rejection of sin. How sad to hear priests saying that the main role of the Church is to confront global warming and sort out immigration. I had a very holy spiritual director when I was a university student. I later heard that he was an exorcist. He used to tell me to consider it a privilege to live in this time of diabolical disorientation and to never despair because Christ is infinitely greater than all the sins of this world. When I used to moan about the state of the world, he immediately responded with a reminder that the one thing necessary is salvation. I must first tend to my soul and the souls of those entrusted in my care. Someone once said that these world crises are crises of saints.

Sin is real. Hell exists. The devil wants us there. All these thoughts came to mind as I read this book. The author reminds us that in the past, we had to go out of our way to be bad. Today, it seems we have to go out of our way to be good. It treats of the seven deadly sins and the remedies to conquer them. Thoroughly orthodox, there are ample quotes from the saints for our further reflection.

On lust, we are reminded that the casual use of the internet can lead to porn addiction. Psychologists, the good ones, are aware of the great dangers of on-line chat rooms and the seemingly endless shows involving celebrities and "partners". It is said that the wonderful Saint Polycarp fled rather than keep company with heretics. The remedy for lust is to flee, go to confession and frequent Holy Communion. We need to grow in the virtue of temperance.

On anger, we are reminded that while there is such a thing as righteous anger, it becomes sinful when we seek vengeance or punishment. So many evils follow from sinful anger. The remedy is to practice meekness. This does not mean being soft. On the contrary, it requires a certain toughness. Even secular psychologists have found out that an unwillingness to forgive leads to many ailments. Hence, forgiveness therapy.

Sloth has to do with spiritual laziness. The endless pursuit of material things leads to sloth. Who needs prayer when all things go well with us. The remedy is diligence. We need to constantly renew our love for God and spend less time in things that distract us from God.

Gluttony is a sin of the flesh, a reckless indulgence in food and drink. It too leads to dullness in our spiritual lives. The author reminds us that these deadly sins are not in neat compartments. The glutton opens himself to lust and other vices. The remedy is self-restraint: fasting and abstinence.

Avarice is the inordinate love of riches. The avaricious person is an unhappy soul, trapped in his possessions. The remedy is generosity and liberality towards others.

Pride is the inordinate love of one's own worth. It turns us away from God. Because this sin resides in the will, it is more deadly than sins of the flesh. Spiritual pride makes us think that we are a cut above others. The remedy is the practice of humility.

Envy is the sorrow one feels at the thought of another's good. The envious person is driven to self-pity because the other person has more. The remedy is the practice of generosity, of kindness and charity to others.

This book is a reminder of the "basics" in our spiritual life, of what really matters.

Copyright ©; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2018

Version: 7th September 2018

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