It is a disease that rots the soul from within. It taints the view of the one who carries it. It poisons his relations with his neighbors and constructs a wall through which Charity may not pass but with much difficulty. It is truly among the deadliest of the great and deadly sins, for, unlike the other six, this one is a “silent killer” of the soul.
I, myself, used to think little of envy except for confusion and disgust at the concept. The reasoning for it made little sense to me. What is there to be gained by envy? From whence does it originate? What is the logical reasoning behind it? Of what part of human nature is it a perversion? Is it just an evil that comes straight from evil for the sake of evil?
From my perspective, the sin seemed an unnatural aberration which I was incapable of understanding . It was not until learned from experience what it was to feel envy that I understood its roots and, therefore, the sin itself.
We must remember that all of the seven deadly sins originate from a natural part of our human nature that has been twisted beyond its use. Gluttony originates in our need to sustain ourselves with food, Sloth in our desire to be at peace, Avarice in the fact that we are of this world and – therefore – have some attachment to it by nature, Wrath in that there are some things worthy of anger, and Lust in our innate carnal nature which God bestowed upon us. Vanity originates in the fact that all souls have an innate beauty within them. The vain man is enamored with his own beauty and qualities that he sees not those of his neighbors. He may disparage them, belittle them, view them as mere tools for his own selfish ends and the glory of his ego. The extremely vain are easy to spot, as their sin attaches to them like a giant boil upon their face. One is incapable of drawing their eyes away or not being sickened by the filth on display before them. It is for good reason that many saints consider this to be the worst of the seven.
So where does Envy come from? The answer lies in our own awareness that the world is broken and our desire to see it fixed.
The envy for which we should watch does not come from children’s stories, where the evil miserly villain wishes ill upon good people who find some success and happiness. No, the envy that will destroy us comes in the form of of some desire for justice upon the wicked, the uncharitable, the unkind, the haughty, and those who may actually need to be “knocked down a peg or two”. To feel that such a person deserves something is not in and of itself the problem; it is when that thought is continually dwelt on that it becomes a sickness. Soon, we may find that when that person comes to our mind it is not the joy of memories well-spent that makes its appearance, but their most vile acts which we remember with anger and sorrow.
It is the duty of the envious, then, to recognize his sin and to curb through continual prayer and meditation on his own faults. He must realize that, though that person he dwells on may indeed need to be cut down for his evil, retribution is not the task of the envious. It is because he is envious that God has ordained for him not to carry out His Justice. Rather, the envious should transform the seething emotions within him into a sorrow for the one who is a source of his envy, a charitable sorrow that wishes for the person to be pulled from his own sickness just as the envious wishes to be pulled free from his envy. Then, he shall see his envy turned to compassion, his hatred turned to love, and his contemplation turned into something more fruitful.
Let those who are stricken with envy pray for those who helped give them cause to be envious and let them pray unceasingly to be healed of the thoughts that disturb their peace.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner!