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Those sins to which man's fallen nature is mainly inclined and that are, as a result, the source of all other human failings. The name "capital" does not mean that they are necessarily graves sins. They are leading tendencies toward sin and are seven in number: pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. Theology justifies the number by pointing to the goods that human nature seeks to attain or the evils it wants to avoid. The goods desired and the evils disliked can be material or spiritual, and either real or imaginary. Thus, pride and vainglory come from wanting to be held in high honor and glory, and from wanting to be held in high honor and glory, and from preening oneself in the imagination. Gluttony comes from individual high living, lust from sexuality inborn to preserve the race, and avarice from the gathering of wealth. The repulsions are about good things wrongfully regarded as threatening our own proper good and that therefore are grieved over or actively combatted. Spiritually values menace our physical pleasure and ease, hence sloth or boredom about spiritual values. Envy is much the same; it resents another's good qualities because they may lower our own self-esteem. To flare out at others is anger. (Etym. Latin capitalis, principal, acting in the manner of a head.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.