Sacred Scripture did not neatly list the seven deadly sins, so where did this tradition come from? Unsurprisingly, it can be traced back to the Church Fathers. But were there eight or seven? In a sense, the answer is “both.” The tradition of the capital sins has a rich development in the patristic era, not only in the presentation of the list of vices but in the preaching and teaching of the early shepherds of the Church. So how do the capital sins spawn other vices in the soul? How does one cultivate the virtues that heal the soul from those vices? How are gluttony and lust related? Is sadness really a vice? How is vainglory different from pride? What role does almsgiving have in soothing the passion of anger? The Fathers of the Church answer these questions and more in this volume.
The capital vices are the gateway drugs to countless sins. The path of the book descends through the vices, culminating with their queen ruler, pride. The words of the Fathers will assist the reader in being more realistic about the attacks upon the soul. The text should also be edifying and medicinal. Since each chapter begins with vice and ends with virtue, one’s path through the chapters represents a sort of ascent out of vice and into the freedom of the virtues. The text gives special attention throughout to the thought of Augustine of Hippo, Evagrius of Pontus, John Cassian, Gregory the Great, and Maximus the Confessor.