St. Teresa of Avila appeals to many people because she seems to have modern problems and modern responses to those problems. Her health problems would have kept her out of a convent today, as she had malaria as a young woman, which caused paralysis and recurring fevers. God allowed these illnesses for her own purgation, and to strengthen her will.
She also had problems with her family. As documented, she was a victim of family members cheating on a will, taking money away from one of her foundations, as those members wanted control over a particular convent.
Several times, she had financial setback, and at least once, she lost most of her small packet of worldly goods in a river.
The Inquisition called her before the tribunal with horrific accusations, not to be repeated on this blog, and she bravely countered all the lies which has been made against her by those who wanted to control her.
In fact, many of her problems were caused by two great sins in others, malice and envy. Some religious nuns and priests envied her successes. Some lay people became malicious, trying to ruin her reputation, because she would be “bought” or controlled.
Rather are these sins addressed by priests from the pulpit. I think, in my adult life, I have heard one sermon on envy, and none on malice. I wrote the paragraph below years ago. I repeat it now.
Now that I am in the Midwest again, I find that it is not the poor who hate the rich, but the middle-classes. Years ago, I told an Irishman that he would not get into heaven with hatred for the English in his heart. The middle class members will not get into heaven with hatred for the rich in their hearts.
Hatred of the rich, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out in the above section of the Summa, reveals the sin of Envy. Envy can become an obsession, and many so-called “socialist” are obsessed with the wealth of the rich. Some Catholics go so far as to say that all rich people are evil and have gained their wealth through sin. Of course, this is simply not true. Many hard-working and honest people have become wealthy without stealing or lying. Envy ties up grace and causes a twisting of the intellect. It is a sin which can grip a people and turn hearts into ashes. All hatred is evil, but the sin of envy must lash out and detract. Pray for those who have fallen prey to the sin of hatred of the rich. The poor are not honored by such hatred and envy. I remove myself from the company of those who are envious. They seem to be stuck. Pray for them.
I also wrote this almost two years ago.
Envy is, like sloth, not always considered a serious sin. There are three aspects to envy. The first is jealousy, in which one is fearful of losing something one has. This could be a girlfriend, or a position at work, for examples.
The second is the malicious wishing of bad fortune on another who has more than one does. This is sometimes called maliciousness, or harm-joy, actually taking pleasure in the hardships or failures in another person’s life.
The third is envy, which is the coveting of something someone else has. Sadly, this is a commonly accepted sin. Envy leads to resentment, hatred, anger.
At Christmas in family gatherings, one hears horrible gossip about others. This is a form of envy. One also hears about raises which one did not get, but someone else did, or about the breaking up of a relationship being related almost with glee. Or endless talk of new cars, new houses, new clothes so-and-so has.
Envy indicates that a person has a twisted view of themselves and others. Envy is connected with consumerism and the false American Dream, when people think they have to “keep up with the Jones”.
Sadly, in a conversation I have heard this past week, two people were discussing what they did not have, but which so-and-so had. This is a sign of envy.
American politics are running on the politics of envy. People here are beginning to hate the rich just because they are rich, or hate the successful, just because they are successful.
All these feelings of emotional turmoil are signs of the sin of envy.
Of course, the second great sin of the human race, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, was fired by envy. God favored Abel.
Try and stem the tide of envy in your families and in conversation. Good luck at doing so. America is full of envy and anger at this time, and these are some of the sins one sees at this holy time.
One way to avoid envy is never to compare yourself with another person. God is in charge of all our talents, things, events. I share this litany as a good prayer to fight the sin of envy:
Litany of Humility
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.
to be continued….