YOU can never cure a disease till you get at the seat or root of the

evil. It will not do to attack the several manifestations that appear

on the surface, the aches and pains and attendant disorders. You must

attack the affected organ, cut out the root of the evil growth, and

kill the obnoxious germ. There is no other permanent remedy; until this

is done, all relief is but temporary.

And if we desire to r
move the distemper of sin, similarly it is

necessary to seek out the root of all sin. We can lay our finger on it

at once; it is inordinate self-love.

Ask yourself why you broke this or that commandment. It is because it

forbade you a satisfaction that you coveted, a satisfaction that your

self-love imperiously demanded; or it is because it prescribed an act

that cost an effort, and you loved yourself too much to make that

effort. Examine every failing, little or great, and you will trace them

back to the same source. If we thought more of God and less of

ourselves we would never sin. The sinner lives for himself first, and

for God afterwards.

Strange that such a sacred thing as love, the source of all good, may

thus, by abuse, become the fountainhead of all evil! Perhaps, if it

were not so sacred and prolific of good, its excess would not be so

unholy. But the higher you stand when you tumble, the greater the fall;

so the better a thing is in itself, the more abominable is its abuse.

Love directed aright, towards God first, is the fulfilment of the Law;

love misdirected is the very destruction of all law.

Yet it is not wrong to love oneself; that is the first law of nature.

One, and one only being, the Maker, are we bound to love more than

ourselves. The neighbor is to be loved as ourselves. And if our just

interests conflict with his, if our rights and his are opposed to each

other, there is no legitimate means but we may employ to obtain or

secure what is rightly ours. The evil of self-love lies in its abuse

and excess, in that it goes beyond the limits set by God and nature,

that it puts unjustly our interests before God's and the neighbor's,

and that to self it sacrifices them and all that pertains to them.

Self, the "ego," is the idol before which all must bow.

Self-love, on an evil day, in the garden of Eden, wedded sin, Satan

himself officiating under the disguise of a serpent; and she gave birth

to seven daughters like unto herself, who in turn became fruitful

mothers of iniquity. Haughty Pride, first-born and queen among her

sisters, is inordinate love of one's worth and excellence, talents and

beauty; sordid Avarice or Covetousness is excessive love of riches;

loathsome Lust is the third, and loves carnal pleasures without regard

for the law; fiery Anger, a counterpart of pride, is love rejected but

seeking blindly to remedy the loss; bestial Gluttony worships the

stomach; green-eyed Envy is hate for wealth and happiness denied;

finally Sloth loves bodily ease and comfort to excess. The infamous

brood! These parents of all iniquity are called the seven capital sins.

They assume the leadership of evil in the world and are the seven arms

of Satan.

As it becomes their dignity, these vices never walk alone or go

unattended, and that is the desperate feature of their malice. Each has

a cortege of passions, a whole train of inferior minions, that

accompany or follow. Once entrance gained and a free hand given, there

is no telling the result. Once seated and secure, the passion seeks to

satisfy itself; that is its business. Certain means are required to

this end, and these means can be procured only by sinning. Obstacles

often stand in the way and new sins furnish steps to vault over, or

implements to batter them down. Intricate and difficult conditions

frequently arise as the result of self-indulgence, out of which there

is no exit but by fresh sins. Hence the long train of crimes led by one

capital sin towards the goal of its satisfaction, and hence the havoc

wrought by its untrammeled working in a human soul.

This may seem exaggerated to some; others it may mislead as to the true

nature of the capital sins, unless it be dearly put forth in what their

malice consists. Capital sins are not, in the first place, in

themselves, sins; they are vices, passions, inclinations or tendencies

to sin, and we know that a vice is not necessarily sinful. Our first

parents bequeathed to us as an inheritance these germs of misery and

sin. We are all in a greater or lesser degree prone to excess and to

desire unlawful pleasures. Yet, for all that, we do not of necessity

sin. We sin when we yield to these tendencies and do what they suggest.

The simple proneness to evil, devoid of all wilful yielding is

therefore not wrong. Why? Because we cannot help it; that is a good and

sufficient reason.

These passions may lie dormant in our nature without soliciting to

evil; they may, at any moment, awake to action with or without

provocation. The sight of an enemy or the thought of a wrong may stir

up anger; pride may be aroused by flattery, applause or even

compliments; the demon of lust may make its presence known and felt for

a good reason, for a slight reason, or for no reason at all; gluttony

shows its head at the sight of food or drink, etc.

He who deliberately and without reason arouses a passion, and thus

exposes himself imprudently to an assault of concupiscence, is

grievously guilty; for it is to trifle with a powerful and dangerous

enemy and it betokens indifference to the soul's salvation.

Suggestions, seductions, allurements follow upon the awakening of these

passions. When the array of these forces comes in contact with the

will, the struggle is on; it is called temptation. Warfare is the

natural state of man on earth. Without it, the world here below would

be a paradise, but life would be without merit.

In this unprovoked and righteous battle with sin, the only evil to be

apprehended is the danger of yielding. But far from being sinful, the

greater the danger, the more meritorious the struggle. It matters not

what we experience while fighting the enemy. Imagination and sensation

that solicit to yielding, anxiety of mind and discouragement, to all

this there is no wrong attached, but merit.

Right or wrong depends on the outcome. Every struggle ends in victory

or defeat for one party and in temptation there is sin only in defeat.

A single act of the will decides. It matters not how long the struggle

lasts; if the will does not capitulate, there is no sin.

This resistance demands plenty of energy, a soul inured to like combats

and an ample provision of weapons of defense--faith, hatred of sin,

love of God. Prayer is essential. Flight is the safest means, but is

not always possible. Humility and self-denial are an excellent, even

necessary, preparation for assured victory.

No man need expect to make himself proof against temptation. It is not

a sign of weakness; or if so, it is a weakness common to all men. There

is weakness only in defeat, and cowardice as well. The gallant and

strong are they who fight manfully. Manful resistance means victory,

and victory makes one stronger and invincible, while defeat at every

repetition places victory farther and farther beyond our reach.

Success requires more than strength, it requires wisdom, the wisdom to

single out the particular passion that predominates in us, to study its

artifices and by remote preparation to make ourselves secure against

its assaults. The leader thus exposed and its power for evil reduced to

a minimum, it will be comparatively easy to hold in check all other

dependent passions.