Food for Sin

Internet and smartphones have burst into our daily lives and  present a major danger to our  spiritual life. In this article, we  would like to approach this  issue with an unusual angle of  attack in order to bring a sincere and maybe broader reflection.  

These few lines tend to show  that these new means of com munication favour and feed the  seven capital vices if they are  not kept in their place of means  in relation to a very precise  purpose.  

Firstly we must ask ourselves  what the purpose of the internet  is, before studying the capital  sins and how uncontrolled internet can feed them. After  the diagnosis, we can give some  guidelines for an effective treat ment.  

The purpose of internet and  social networks 

Communication is the goal of  the internet. Through a connection, different elements may be  shared all around the world,  from a knowledge to a alleged  friendship. It is basically a plat form for sharing information  and data. 

As for social media, it is often  misused and becomes antisocial  media, yet it still remains a  means of communication.  

Now considering the moral level, the platform in itself is  not good or bad, it is a physical  means allowing a communi cation, a sharing. The moral  problem occurs on the content  and on the actual use of this  platform. If Julius has a gun  allowing him to shoot, out of  itself the gun is not evil. But if  he then uses it to shoot on his  neighbour who is too noisy or  to shoot for such a long time  that he misses the family rosary  every day, the moral question  arises from what is in itself  indifferent. 

Listening to a Cantata of Bach,  admiring the paintings of Fra  Angelico in HD, accessing  the Archives of the National  Library, keeping contact with  family members on the other  side of the world, listening to  sermons,...the internet does  have a purpose and can foster  virtue as well. Our principle  in this matter is the one Saint  Ignatius gives us at the begin ning of his Spiritual Exercises:  “All things on the face of the  earth are created for man, to  help him in attaining the end  for which he is created. Hence  man should use them in as far  as they help him in his attain ment of his end, and he must  rid himself of them in as far  as they prove and hindrance to  him.”  

The capital sins and how  they are encouraged by the  internet 

The Angelic Doctor approaches  this topic on the occasion of  the question 84 (article 4) of the  Prima Secundae of his indisput able “Summa Theologica”. In  this article he shows that the  capital sins are chiefly roots  “giving rise” to many sins. If we  take an arboricultural analogy,  we could say that the three con cupiscences spoken of by St.  John (1 John 2:16) are the trunk  of pride which support every sin  - that is, in every act of turning  away from God for the sake  of the creature - and develops  into seven branches (the capital  sins) which bear those deleterious fruits which we call sins.  

The capital sins can be categor ized according to the different  reasons that can move man’s  appetite. The different appe tites, whether in the upper part  of the soul or in the irascible or  concupiscible, all tend towards  the pursuit of good, whether by  removing an obstacle or even  tending towards it... All sin will  consist in the use of these different appetites or tensions of  the soul for goods or apparent  goods that divert us from the  only end that can fulfill man and  form his beatitude: God himself.


Vain glory - disordered desire  for excellence conferred by  praise and honor - is excited by  social platforms such as Facebook, Instragram, TikTok,...that  easily allow the fabrication of  a showcase personnality. The  truth is no longer shared but  only what could make me loved  but that I am not.  

Gluttony - can be the occasion  to talk about the hours spent  on watching cooking programs.  But by analogy the food of our  intelligence - knowledge - may  be wasted by an overindulgence  in things like the latest fashions,  news, or just our insatiable  curiosity. 

Lust - is certainly one of the  more dangerous and wide spread sin encouraged by the  platform of sharing that is the  internet, from social media to  the websites. There is probably  no need for an explanation,  from the ridiculous Snapchat to  the lustful Tinder.  

Avarice - this disordered appetite for wealth also find a danger in uncontrolled internet as  everything is a click and a credit  card away. Amazon and all the  other online shops are trying to  have you think you need their  products to be saint today...  

Envy -  is encouraged by the halo  of false glory that surround  the latest Instragram stories or  posts on Facebook, while Anger is spead out in 280 characters  on a tweet.  

And on the top of it all, the lazy  modern man will spend hours in  the front of diabolic Netflix or  watching YouTube videos.

Acedia - is this sloth of the soul fearing any effort to obtain spiritual  goods for the soul. Our times do  not need couch potatoes but the  kind of heroes we call saints! 

Practical advice by way of  conclusion...that the internet  and social networks remain  means and do not feed the capital vices. 

Before you use internet or social media, we should ask our selves first: “What am I using it  for? How long will I be on it?”  In such a way it won’t become  an end but stay a means for a  specific purpose. It is good to  instil this habit in the children  and teens as well, expecting  them to ask before they use the  internet and stay open about  what they are doing.  

Do not allow the internet and  social media to feed capital  sins but rather starve them to  protect your spiritual life!

Principles of prudence in the use of internet 

The internet remain a means Every time I use it, I know why and how. 

Internet use (computer or cell phone) is to be one only in an open and public space where anyone can see the screen at all times. 

No smartphone is to be given to a child who does not need it or is under 17. When he is over 17 and absolutely needs one, a filter is installed and openess encouraged. Certain programs or websites will always be dangers and Catholics can not be on them.  

Some others can be used with prudence. 

Netflix, TikTok, Tinder,...are applications no Catholic has. 

Snapchat, Facebook,...should be avoided.