2014 St Therese Novena, Cork – Day 5

The SMA community Leader in Wilton, Fr John O’Keeffe, celebrated and preached at the fifth evening of the National Novena in honour of St Therese.The theme of his homily was ‘sin and weakness.’

Saturday, 27 September 2014

People often speak of “SEVEN DEADLY SINS”. The more accurate description is the “SEVEN CAPITAL VICES”.

A vice is a habit that inclines us to sin. It is the result of repeated sinful actions of a particular kind, so that a vicious circle emerges. Sin leads to a habit which in turn leads to more sinful actions. There are seven capital vices: Pride, Envy, Sloth, Lust, Greed, Gluttony and Anger.

Sirach (10:13) tells us that pride is a habit of thinking of ourselves and our qualities, more highly than we merit.

The Book of Wisdom (2:24) reminds us that envy is a sense of pain or misery indulged in when we see someone prosper.

Proverbs (12:24) tells us that sloth is a kind of spiritual laziness that makes us reluctant to do good because it might cost us something.

Lust (Proverbs 6 25:29) is the inordinate desire for sexual pleasure that inclines us to see others as objects for our personal gratification.

According to the Psalmist (119:36), greed is an immoderate desire for material goods or worldly honours while gluttony (Proverbs 23:21) is the excessive desire for, or use of, food and drink.

Anger (Psalm 37:8) refers to the tendency to become angry excessively or without just cause.

The best way to cure a vice is to build the opposite habit through practice – this ‘habit’ is called a virtue.

In order to practice good habits which will rid us of our vices we must be aware of the objects that influence our behaviour, our actions. Today the world is exposed to a wide choice of lifestyles that can influence us for good or for evil. Social media of all kinds, film industry, games, challenges are available to us at the press of a button. The same devices have a vast store of good and uplifting material – the choice is mine!

During the last two weeks we have listened to readings during Mass from the Letters of St Paul to the Ephesians and Corinthians. We know Paul – before and after his conversion. Writing to the Ephesians he wrote: “do not use harmful words in speaking… no more shouting or insult… be kind and tender-hearted to one another”. In his exhortations to the Corinthians St Paul wrote that ‘if I have the eloquence of men or of angels, or the gift of prophecy, give away all I possess… but if I do not have love then it will do me no good at all.”

St Thérèse tells us, “I am loved by God; therefore, I must be valuable.”

All of creation is loved by God, which he created. Responding to the love of God is the challenge we face throughout our lives. We know many such ‘lovers’ in our communities and in our world. We know of people who are caring for others, young and old, who because of their condition depend on others for their daily existence. Love and attention is bestowed on their dependents willingly and the attention and love demanded of their families are constant acts of love. Our hospitals are blessed with staffs who are generally patient, kind, and attentive to those in their care. Despite the challenges and difficulties prevailing in our hospitals at the present time we all know that there are different types of patients, with different levels of dependency, the joyful and the grateful, who always greet you with a smile which is one of love and gratitude. There ae also, however, the grumpy patient who fights his/her disability every moment of the day. Despite the demands on them we witness tender love and care from those who are blessed to be a presence to those in need.

Fleeing for one’s life, just as St Joseph and Mary had to do, is constantly before us today. Thank God there are willing missionaries and volunteers who undertake to meet them at borders and in their temporary sites so far from home. Love does not want anyone to be classed as the ‘most abandoned’.

Please join with me in singing the exhortation of St Francis, presuming St Therese’s permission: Make me a channel of your peace…