I’ve got this exciting new theory I want to try out on you. I’ve just thought of it myself, and maybe it’s old hat and been around forever, but I’m only a convert, so if it is the classical spiritual teaching of some great monastic teacher or spiritual director and I’ve never heard of it, then it’s my bad.

This is it: There are the seven deadly sins, and we call them the ‘Capital Sins’ because they are like the top of the list and all the other sins are different versions or variations of the seven deadly. To refresh you memory they are: Gluttony, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Sloth, Pride and Greed. Well, there are also seven corporal acts of mercy. Which are:  1. Feed the hungry  2. Give drink to the thirsty  3. Clothe the naked 4. Shelter the homeless 5. Visit the sick 6. Visit those in prison 7. Bury the dead.

I’m thinking that the usual course to overcome the seven deadly is self discipline, control, prayer, confession and the hard work of overcoming the sin. Problem is, too often all this does is end up making us rather repressed or up tight or legalistic or harsh on ourselves and judgmental–and all the other pitfalls of the spiritual life.

What if, however, we were to put all that self discipline stuff on one side and simply get involved more heartily in the corporal works of mercy? See, I reckon that the seven corporal works of mercy actually counter-act the seven deadlies.

It works like this: [Read More]