A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.
Sadness or discontent at the excellence, good fortune, or success of another person. It implies that one considers oneself somehow deprived by what one envies in another or even that an injustice has been done. Essential to envy is this sense of deprivation. consequently it is not merely sadness that someone else has some desirable talent or possession, nor certainly the ambition to equal or surpass another person, which can be laudable emulation. It is not the same as jealousy, which implies an unwillingness to share one's own possessions.
Envy is a sin against charity and, though serious in itself, allows of degrees of gravity depending on whether fully consented to and how important is the object envied. The most serious sin of envy is sadness at the supernatural gifts or graces that another has received from God, i.e., to envy sanctity. (Etym. Latin invidia; from invidere, to look askance.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.