Pride, a wreck where hope once stood—
Envy, grief for a neighbour’s good—
Cant and anger bring to Wrath
Defective love, the root of Sloth—
Weak-kneed Avarice covets all—
While Gluttony grooms Lust to crawl
Beside him, trembling, bathed in sweat—
Lord cleanse thy servant, but not yet!
These are the seven deadly (or capital) sins as distinguished by Pope Gregory in the 6th century, in order of severity, starting with Pride, ‘the beginning of every sin’. To Gregory’s seven I have added an eighth: Augustine’s sin of Prevarication summed up in book 8 of his Confessions three centuries earlier: ‘[Lord,] give me chastity and continence, but not yet’. Which, I guess, is how most of us feel on that subject most of the time. As to ‘Defective love, the root of sloth’, this came from my reading of a translation of Aquinas in which he argues that all sins are derived, one way and another, from love, and that ‘sloth is grief for Divine, spiritual love.’ This sounds like baloney, until you read his powerful argument.