Catholic author Dorothy Sayers calls envy “the sin of the have-nots against the haves.”
Put another way, an envious person wants to see everyone else as miserable as he is.
St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “Envy makes another’s good an evil to oneself.”
Born of pride, vanity, and distorted self-love, envy spawns hatred and misery. At its root, envy causes a person to feel lessened and humiliated when another is favored over himself.
This is the great sadness of envy: it turns the goodness of others into an occasion of misery, stripping one of Christian joy.
Envy is particularly dangerous because of its ability to masquerade in the soul. Envy cunningly hides behind one’s concept of justice, making seemingly reasonable demands about what one deserves. In the soul, envy loves to debunk another’s talent or goodness and refuses to admire, respect, or show gratitude to another.
Though envy is a real threat to our souls, we are not without hope! Envy can be countered through the active practice of humility, vigilance against vanity, and the cultivation of friendship.
Humility is the best antidote to a myriad of sins, including envy, but it can be difficult to cultivate. Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem, by popular Benedictine author Fr. J. Augustine Wetta, is a practical, fun, and humorous guide to cultivating humility and combating sin. Available today from The Catholic Company!