The Devil Made Me Do It!
Oh, that Tempter is all about us! He is always pressing upon me extra helpings of cake and ice cream. He makes sure that when we turn on the TV we see a luscious figure that we cannot erase from our minds. We go out to visit with family or friends and in he pushes with gossip and the latest scandal. The Tempter is there swelling our breast with pride and has us grossly elaborate on a small triumph. He has us convinced that we are so good and holy that we are entitled to point out the faults of others. One good priest asked his penitent if she was there to confess her own sins or the sins of her husband. He is also the one who guides my hand to turn off the clock's alarm and makes me late for Sunday Mass. He is also the one who whispers after sin, "you are only human" as an excuse for sin.
We cannot blame the Devil. He cannot make me sin against my will. The Devil cannot make me do one single thing I do not want to do. But he certainly can and does stir up from within me all my favorite passions and helps dress up evil to make it look appealing. Yes, our struggle for goodness is not simply against our own "flesh and blood, but against the powers" of the devils, "against the rulers of this present darkness, against the hosts of wickedness" (Eph. 6:12). And so St. Paul advises us to "put on the armor of God against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).
That is why we require a holy season such as Lent to remind us of our need for penance and mortification and to give us that extra push we need to bring our passions under control, not only under the control of our wills, but under the powerful guidance of divine grace. This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so necessary. It is perhaps the only time that we seriously examine our conscience, where we honestly admit that we are proud, selfish and lacking in our love for God and our neighbor.
Sin can cause sin and usually does. The ones that give us the most trouble in this respect are the Capital Sins. The are called capital, from the Latin word for "head", because like leaders they induce and direct us to do further evil. There are Seven Capital Sins:
Pride- Gluttony-Lust-greed- Sloth, Envy-Anger. Like favorite vices, they are most often committed and are usually the reason why we do evil at all and often are the very purpose we have in mind when planning other sins. For that reason we need to pay special attention to them.
Gluttony, that inordinate desire for food and drink, though in itself a venial sin, can become serious by reason of the harm it inflicts on body, mind and soul. I is certainly no secret in medical circles that excessive eating can damage our body in various ways, while excessive use of alcohol can destroy the liver and impair the brain. But greater by far is the injury done to mind and soul by this sin. Overindulgence in food induces mental inactivity and overall laziness, leads to sloth, and therefore so sins of omission (e.g., of our duties). An immoderate use of alcohol may deprive a person of his reason, serious enough in itself, but also cause him to relax his guard over lust and anger. God alone knows what can and does happen when a person is intoxicated.
How many families have been destroyed by alcohol! Think of the many children abused by drunken parents, sometimes critically. Then there are the many people killed or maimed for life by drunken drivers, coworkers injured on the job, jobs lost, families reduced to destitution, all due to a few miserable drinks.
However, we not only destroy ourselves through gluttony, but because we thus become greedy we deprive the hungry of the world of the food they need. Yes, greed due to overindulgence ensnares us in one of our most heartless sins of omission: failure to care for those who cannot, through no fault of their own, provide for themselves due to famine or poverty. It is a beautiful custom to conclude grace at meals with the brief petition "And may God make us mindful of the poor and hungry!" Recently I heard a horrifying distortion of this. It was meant as a joke, but it was a sick one, hardened and blasphemous: "And may God feed the hungry with His Love." Quite akin to the grave lack of concern shown by the extravagant Marie Antoinette, who in response to the report that the poor had no bread, replied, "Let them eat cake!"
No, gluttony is no friend of love; just the opposite: selfishness, an egotism that centers everything on our own sensual self-satisfaction. And what kind of self-love can it be that indulges the animal body to excess, while the immortal soul languishes from lack of spiritual nourishment and exercise of its crowning power to love and care for others?
Food and drink will pass away. Only the love deeds of the spirit will endure forever. And we can never resort to that worn out excuse: "The devil made me do it."
Source: Fr. John H. Miller