— sinful Wrath, holy Patience, or cringing Servility:
- The deadly sin of Wrath uses the evil one has suffered as a pretext for launching outsized retaliation — gleefully (given man’s fallen will) taking not just an eye for an eye, but a nose as well, and perhaps an ear for good measure. Indeed, our all-too-human faith in our own immaculate hearts and irreproachable motives will tend to magnify in our own minds any offense committed against us, writing “Vendetta” in the clouds, and shrink down to puny amoebic scale whatever we might have done to provoke it. If you don’t believe me, pick up the newspaper and turn to a story (any story) about events (any events) anywhere in the Middle East.
- The virtue of Patience, which accepts trivial slights against one’s dignity like a slap on the cheek as (perhaps) God’s punishment for an unrepented sin, or suffering to be united with Christ’s for the sake of the souls in Purgatory. Patience modeled on Christ’s endurance of the Passion has been the greatest help to the helpless — the billions of people through all the human centuries who have lived without power, weapons, wealth, or the liberty to acquire any of these good things. When one is subject to a chronic, irreparable injustice, or has striven mightily to overturn evil and failed, the spirituality of the Cross makes it possible to recycle this residue of inescapable suffering into supernatural grace, a radiant force with a much longer half-life than fleeting secular supremacy. The blood of the martyrs really can be the seed of the Church. Certainly, the example of Christians willing to die in the Coliseum rather than worship the emperor made a profound impression on the jaded citizens of decadent Rome.
- The neurosis of Servility, which combines aspects of cowardice and self-congratulation to mold the kind of person who could stand by watching his children be abducted, his wife be raped, or his country conquered and colonized, without putting up any resistance. This is the disease that Nietzsche diagnosed in modern liberal Christians, which now expresses itself in a form much darker than even he could have imagined: the voluntary self-gelding of European peoples, and their lazy willingness to import, wholesale, an alien civilization to mow their lawns and mop their toilets — in return for the right of inheritance. This close-out sale of Western man’s birthright for a maggoty mess of pottage is the melancholy history of contemporary Europe.