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Signs of Spiritual Vices in a Person – St. John of the Cross

1. Spiritual PRIDE:  [from Chapter 2]

Fervour in spiritual works but partly done with impure intentions (for self satisfaction and with thoughts of self glorification, done for some personal reputation and fame)

Desire to dominate and instruct others

Desire for recognition of spirituality

Desire to receive praise

Portrays oneself as holy and knowledgeable

Does not want others to appear holy or be more successful in the works of God

2. Spiritual GREED:  [from Chapter 3]

Not content with the spirit God gives them

Desire for many spiritual things which is not given to them

Attachment to spiritual objects may be there

Much spiritual seeking with the intent good, but not fully pure

Behaviour is contrary to poverty of spirit

3. Spiritual LUST: [from Chapter 4]

Impure feelings of sensory satisfaction in prayer due to the pleasure that human nature finds in spiritual exercises leading to an attachment

Inordinate love and affection for spiritual experiences and so true love of God diminishes

4. Spiritual ANGER: [from Chapter 5]

Getting angry at oneself for having imperfections

Indiscreet zeal; they become angry over others sins

They reprove others with conduct that is contrary to spiritual meekness

No patience in waiting on God for His timing

5. Spiritual GLUTTONY: [from Chapter 6]

A vain gratification from spiritual exercises

Lured by delight and satisfaction in their religious practices

They are mostly given into a type of pleasure and do not genuinely seek out God

They strive more for spiritual savor (a taste / an experience) than spiritual purity

Motivated to do penances by an appetite for the pleasure they find in it

They do only what they feel inclined to do

 If they do not procure any sensible (of the senses) feeling or satisfaction, they think they have accomplished nothing

They are like children prompted to act not by reason but by pleasure

Always in search for some gratification in the things of God

6. Spiritual ENVY [from Chapter 7]

They feel sad about the spiritual good of others and on knowledge of the virtue of others

Some unhappiness on hearing about another’s progress in the spiritual life

Annoyance because they themselves are not praised; they long for preference in everything

7. Spiritual SLOTH: [from Chapter 7]

They want God to desire what they want. Their surrender is not mature.

They are averse to challenges in certain spiritual tasks and avoid these which are contrary to sensory satisfaction. They withdraw from prayer when they do not receive the satisfaction they crave.

They run from everything rough and are lax in fortitude and labour that spiritual growth demands.

A short conclusion:

A cleansing and purification of these spiritual vices , and the removal of weakness and attachments, deliverance from negative behaviour, purification of judgemental attitude, stubbornness, lukewarmness to faith, complacency, indifference, etc. are all needed to progress in the spiritual life and to move into a deeper relationship with God.  This purification causes the person to develop an authentic love for God and man. Consequently, a deeper prayer life and a more fruitful service in His Kingdom will be the wonderful outcome!

These points are selected from the book –

 “The Dark Night of the Soul – Book 1”

Compiled by Vinay Silva

May 2019

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