Then, unseen, flying towards us now were heard the voices of spirits, all delivering a courteous welcome to the feast of love. The first voice, fleeting past, declared aloud, ‘Vivum non habent!’ (‘Look, they have no wine!), and then went on behind us, echoing that.
Dante, Purgatory (Canto 13, 25-28)
Lets be Honest - We are all Envious
Envy is the second worse sin, and is in a certain sense directly related to pride. If you struggle with pride (which is a universal truth for all fallen-human beings), then you will struggle with Envy. As a priest, it happens more often than it should that penitents are unable to identify these pernicious sins within their own soul. They might say, “I’m not an envious soul.” But this is typically because that sin habit or disposition lays dormant within their soul. It is important for us to assume that this sin lays under our conscious behavior - it is merely a sober acknowledgment of our fallen-state.
So if we can begin with this humble assumption, it is all the more likely that in that light of humility we will be able to cast a light on how envy manifests itself in our own life. Consider again that this is a spiritual sin. It is not necessarily assigned to a particular material manifestation or external behavior. Spiritual Sins can hide behind the guise of humility and admiration. Its for this reason that people would draw attention to their fasting and penances, disfiguring their faces. For at the heart of their motives was a desire to be liked, esteemed, and considered pious. Yet if this particular material manifestation of vein practice occurs in the past, how does it manifest in a culture’s whose values are different? The reality is, the material manifestation, or what sin looks like, is often fluid when it comes to spiritual sins.
This is why it is crucial for us to insect ourselves in a deeper way. We must inspect our soul, its movements, its motives, desires and emotions. We must examine what is somewhat abstract and immaterial within ourselves. That is, we must examine what is hidden even from ourselves.
What is Envy?
Envy can be best understood as a type of sadness at the good of another. Conversely we can understand it is a type of joy at the evil of another. These are the two sides of the coin of the same sin.
What is its connection to Pride?
If pride places ourselves at the center of our own universe (which is shared by everyone else), then when another seems to take the center stage we will be threatened by this. When one gets pumped out of their own centrality, we will likewise become joyful and seek to take their place. You see, Envy is a way of reacting to what pride seeks to possess. Pride places us is a state of war with one another, a place of competition that is unholy. It does not bring out the best within us, but rather seeks to displace, undermine, and in our next sin, sometimes kill.