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A Book Review… How To Conquer Deadly Sin

April 7, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin, by Fr. Dennis Kolinski, SJC (TAN Books, 336 pages, $20.49 leather bound; $9.98 Kindle. Available at

This very readable manual comes in two parts. The first focuses on the seven deadly sins and how to avoid them, while the second consists of chapters devoted to prayers, encouragement, and remedies against these sins, as a way of overcoming them. The seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, and pride — and no one can deny that they very much in the ascendant in the modern world. Thus this is a very practical and much needed book.
The Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin is intended as a help to the reader in learning more about the deadly sins, and how to conquer them, through understanding what they are, looking at them in the light of the Bible, the Magisterium and the works of the saints, and then providing prayers to aid us in reducing the hold habitual sin has on our lives.
The introduction is entitled “How to Use This Manual,” and this discusses sin and our tendency to fall into the same sins repeatedly, despite our good intentions. And so it is quite enlightening to note the quotation which heads the first chapter, an essay on sin, which comes from Pope Pius XII, who said in 1946: “Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin.”
Now if we come forward to the time of Pope St. John Paul II, he, from the earliest days of his pontificate, was lamenting the actual loss of the sense of sin in the world. In his 1984 apostolic exhortation on Reconciliation and Penance he said, “While the effects of sin abound — greed, dishonesty and corruption, broken relationships and exploitation of persons, pornography and violence — the recognition of individual sinfulness has waned.”
He went on to note: “Sin is an integral part of the truth about the human person,” before saying, “To recognize oneself as a sinner is the first and essential step in returning to the healing love of God.”
So we have gone from the beginning of the loss of the sense of sin in the 1940s, to the loss of the sense of sin described by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s, to the situation now, in the twenty-first century, where the moral law seems to be in meltdown and the Church, and believers, are assailed on every side by all manner of freely indulged sins, many of them grave or deadly sins.
So this initial essay is very useful in focusing on the very concept of sin itself, which the author describes as our “worst enemy” — with mortal sin, which separates us from God completely obviously being a much greater evil than venial sin.
As Fr. Kolinski notes, the danger is in contracting a habit of sin which becomes second nature, and thus something which is very difficult to escape from. The good news is that every deadly sin has a primary opposing virtue, and it is by cultivating this virtue that we can “help root out a vice that has become lodged in the will.”
Thus the person suffering from lustful thoughts should cultivate the virtue of chastity; someone inclined to avarice should aim to be generous, while the prideful person should look to become humble.
The general remedy, and preventative, given to avoid becoming enmeshed in deadly sin is to cultivate a life of virtue, by living in the presence of God and directing our lives toward Him through a life of prayer and sacrifice — with devotion to our Lady being seen as a particular help in all this.
The author also notes that contrary to what we might expect, it is the physical, carnal, deadly sins, lust and gluttony, which are less dangerous than the spiritual ones, that is, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, and pride. This is because the latter do not originate in any weakness of the flesh but in the intellect and will. Thus the primordial sin was the sin of pride of Lucifer, who wanted to take the place of God, and in this Adam and Eve sinned in wanting to be like God.
Each chapter in the first part looks at a particular deadly sin, beginning with a definition from the Catechism. Then there is a section describing the sin, its origins and causes, and giving the reasons why, according to Church teaching and the moral law, it is wrong, and showing how the sin can be more or less serious according to the degree of consent.
These sections on the various sins are up to date and relevant to our times, in that current problems affecting society are detailed. Then the author has sections looking at remedies for particular sins, and in particular the cultivation of the contrary virtue.
Thus in the case of lust, temperance, which also involves the virtues of chastity, continence, purity, and modesty, is advocated. Each of these points is discussed in detail, but the author is realistic enough to acknowledge that in the present state of society, we can do little to regulate the unchaste nature of much of the media — therefore we have to be very careful about what we look at.
As he says, society has changed to such an extent that, if “in the past it seemed we had to go out of our way to be bad . . . today, it seems we must go out of our way to be good.” And so he counsels that “in the battle against the inordinate desires of lust, spiritual means such as prayer, the daily examination of conscience, regular confession, and Eucharistic adoration are essential.”
The author also points out that it can happen that committing one sin, such as, for example, gluttony, opens the door to the person committing a number of other sins of the flesh, such as indiscreet speech, levity of conduct, or sins connected with drunkenness.

Relying On Christ

However, Fr. Kolinski is careful to note that despite the ravages of original and actual sin, this battle against the deadly sins is one we can win, provided that we rely on Christ, His Church, prayer, and the sacraments He instituted.
In fact, he describes the sacramental life as the “ultimate remedy” to the deadly sins. And it is this spiritual assistance from God, in addition to the teachings found in the second section of the book, which will help the reader to combat his own tendency to sin, and provide remedies against it.
These teachings come from the Bible and saints such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales, as well as many more of the spiritual guides God has given to humanity and the Church over the last two thousand years. There are also writings quoted which exalt the opposing virtues of the deadly sins and show how they lead to both earthly and heavenly rewards.
At the end of the book, prayers are given to which we can turn to as we struggle against the deadly sins, including litanies, the stations of the cross, the rosary, prayers to our guardian angel, and prayers to help us acquire and keep the various virtues, while overcoming the effects of the deadly sins.
This is a very practical and up-to-date book, which deals with the deadly sins and how they present themselves to us in the concrete reality of modern times. Reading it will help anyone to understand some of the secret tendencies they have, and make them realize their need to have recourse to the sacraments, spiritual reading, and in particular prayer, if they are to survive being contaminated by an increasingly sinful world.

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(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at He has also a written two time-travel/adventure books for young people – details can be found at:

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