Little known saint explains how to overcome the 8 most common vices that induce people to sin

In this treatise, St. John Cassian outlines with a kind of battle-hardened wisdom the eight chief vices that cause us to fall into sin.  In some ways, it is a Christian monastic’s version of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the great precursor to more spiritually militant works as the Spiritual Exercisesof St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Handbook of Spiritual Counsel by St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite (an Orthodox saint), and Lorenzo Scupoli’s The Spiritual Combat.  All provide excellent “field manuals” in the battle against sin and temptation.

What is absolutely fascinating is the way in which Cassian describes these vices in an almost personified way, depicting them in his words as hideous forms of demons, and describing them as almost living entities that afflict the Christian soul.  For example, he talks about dejection as a “malicious demon” that “seizes our soul and darkens it completely”.

8 cures

St. Peter Damian’s views on the innate malice of the vice of sodomy


“Without fail it brings death to the body and destruction to the soul.

It pollutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the mind, expels the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart, and gives entrance to the devil, the stimulator of lust. … It opens up hell and closes the gates of paradise. …This vice excludes a man from the assembled choir of the Church. …This disease erodes the foundation of faith, saps the vitality of hope, dissolves the bond of love.

It makes away with justice, demolishes fortitude, removes temperance, and blunts the edge of prudence.

Shall I say more?”

Saint Peter Damian, O.S.B. (Petrus Damiani, also Pietro Damiani or Pier Damiani; c. 1007 – February 21/22, 1072) was a reforming monk in the circle of Pope Gregory VII and a cardinal. In 1823, he was declared a Doctor of the Church. Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah:
A Moral Blueprint for Our Times

Submitted by Doria2

Nihilism

But sadly most people today suffer from some form of Nihilism. Most people deny the fact of objective moral norms. Even more deny the notion of absolute moral norms. Most people today no longer consider things to be true or false. Rather, most everything is seen just as opinion or a subjective point of view. It may be true that many things are just opinion but does this mean that there is really no objective truth to be found? It would seem so, according to many if not most people today. All of this of course leads to a rather deep cynicism as well as an incapacity to come to agreement on many important issues of the day. Since no agreed upon norms exist, life amounts to a power struggle between factions. Nihilism has so permeated our culture that most people don’t even know its there. It’s like talking to a fish about water and the fish says, “What water?” Most people congratulate themselves for their Nihilism by calling it other things like “open-mindedness”, “tolerance”, “acceptance”, “progressiveness” and the like. There are real virtues by these names but it is likely that most who claim these virtues for themselves are actually just suffering from some form of Nihilism. Yes, I want to argue that nihilism has reached the suburbs, the kitchen table, the family hearth.

And more than ever this is why we need Catholic culture and faith. It is only with something that we can battle nothing. I have come a long way out of my Nihilism that reached full flower in the late 1970s. I had turned my sights away from God and the Church and found only  “nothing.”  I cannot say I have fully emerged from Nihilism for it has  so permeated everything. And yet I credit the Catholic faith for restoring to me to truth and its existence. I credit the faith for restoring my hope and healing so much of my anger and cynicism. I thank the Catholic Faith for restoring to me my sight. Truth inevitably leads to beauty and goodness,  and what a beautiful view it is. There is great serenity and freedom in the truth. I know that Nihilism brought me only anger and struggle against perceived enemies (i.e. my father, the Church et al.) that was far from serene.   So here I stand more blessed than I deserve, coming out of nothing into everything, out of darkness into light. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. (Matt 6:23-24)

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