“… our little bad habits are multilayered, interconnected little sins… quick to lead us from the grass into the weeds… from the weeds into the swamplands.”


It took me longer that it should have but I’ve finally finished Elizabeth’s Scalia’s Little Sins Mean A Lot.  My delay in finishing the book should not however skewer your perception of its worth.  In fact, an argument could be made that a number of personal little sins were piling up to prevent me from finishing it earlier.

The reality is that the book is a page turner, much like her previous one, filled with valuable tidbits of truth, sprinkled with morsels of enlightenment, crammed with references to the saints, the Catechism and the Scriptures, all purposed in practically showing the reader what steps to take and/or to avoid in ensuring that he or she stays out of life’s swamplands.

Elizabeth’s message is a simple one.  Yes, it’s true that we’re not to make a mountain out of a mole-hill, yet it’s also true that mountains can be made by stacking mole-hills, particularly self-destructive ones.

In the interest of full disclosure, Ms. Scalia has been a personal pain of sorts.  She has a way of confronting my presuppositions, of challenging my way of thinking, of showing me, gently, that correction might be necessary.

The book does the same sort of thing but again, necessarily.

We’re all familiar, or should be, with deadly sin.  Pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth are the biggies, the soul-killers, the transgressions fatal to spiritual progress.

But what about their younger cousins, their adolescents, their mini-mes?  Elizabeth dives, over 13 chapters, into a variety of mole-hill sins, to include such things as procrastination, self-neglect, gossip, spite, self recrimination.  In each of her chapters, she includes sections that detail what Catholicism has to say about those sins and what the faithful Catholic might do to practically deal with them.

As an example, in her chapter on cheating, she advises the cheater to be ruthlessly honest, even brutally honest, with themselves:

We live in an age that does not appreciate such a thing; to be brutally honest with another is considered rude and nearly always considered “insensitive” because it hurts.  To be brutally honest with the self hurts too – it clarifies what is lacking on our own character – but it is also a dicey proposition.  Once we are willing to admit to ourselves that we’re not quite as honest as we think we are – and that if we think we can get away with something, we’ll probably try it – then we have to make sure we don’t overcorrect ourselves into neurotic scrupulosity.  We also have to remember that God is merciful, and that could tempt us into applying great dollops of mercy all over ourselves, which would, by doing nothing to change our behavior, probably sink us further down into the pit.

What is necessary against this sin is sacramental confession: a real examination of where we have cheated, how we have done it, and what we thought we were getting out of it needs to be undertaken, and then confessed.  Consider actually writing things down so that you can really be thorough in your admissions, because you are admitting things to God and to yourself, and naming one’s sin aloud is often the catalyst for defeating it.

That excerpt for me is the point of the book, the point in fact of Christianity, to understand and embrace sin’s defeat.  We cannot do this by diminishing the harmful effects that all sin, not just the biggies, have on the believer.  Ms. Scalia clearly knows this and her book effectively communicates it.

Do yourself the favor of picking it up, reading it, inwardly digesting it and then passing it on.  You’ll not regret doing so.

Carry on.

Originally published at Brutally Honest.

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