Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Let me assure you: men do not come any sharper than Dr. Kevin Vost. Vost has so fully assimilated the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and his massive Summa Theologica, that he is able to articulate it in the words of today’s man and woman in the pew.
Your clicking on this review tells me that you recognize the destructive power of sin, want to understand its insidious nature, and begin the serious work of beating back its power in your life. Dr. Vost’s The Seven Deadly Sins: A Thomistic Guide to Vanquishing Vice and Sin will help you do precisely that. Not only does this book present you with the insights of St. Thomas, who seemed to have synthesized the thought of all the great philosophers and theologians who preceded him; but it unites them with Vost’s own insights as a doctor of psychology. Most importantly, however, it takes the New Testament’s claims seriously –that all growth in virtue is the result of Christ’s grace, and that we must do all in our power to cooperate with that grace (Phil. 2:12-13).
In the first part of the book Dr. Vost gives us a history lesson regarding the concept of seven deadly sins. He begins with an illuminating chapter, showing the condemnation of these sins in the pages of Scripture before proceeding to chapters on Evagrius of Pontus’s eight evil thoughts” (c. 375 A.D.); St. John Cassian’s eight principal vices (c. 420 A.D.); Prudentius’ seven vices (early 5th century); St. John Climacus’ seven sinful passions (c. 600 A.D.); Pope St. Gregory the Great’s seven dealy sins (c. 591 A.D.); and St. Thomas Aquinas’(mid-13th century) seven capital vices and their 44 sinful “daughters,” or the more specific sins engendered by the capital vices. The development that Vost traces in the Catholic analysis of sin is fascinating and prepares the readers for the meaty discussion to come.
In the second half of The Seven Deadly Sins, Dr. Vost’s book expounds upon Aquinas’ exposition of the deadly sins, and showing how sloth, envy, avarice, vainglory, gluttony, lust, and wrath are conquered by the corresponding virtues of diligence, kindness, charity, humility, temperance, chastity, and patience. Vost goes into detail, drawing from the works of the saints highlighted in the first part of the book, to show how we wage battle against the vices, augmenting them with his own practical insights as a psychologist. (I can tell you, from experience, that Dr. Vost’s advice for cultivating temperance and fighting gluttony works; his book Fit For Eternal Life helped me drop over 50 lbs!)
By the time you finish The Seven Deadly Sins, I have no doubt that you will have set out anew on the path to Heaven. Your gaze will be sharper, your ability to evaluate the spiritual terrain more pronounced; and as a result, your steps will be more deliberate. You will have been led through a penetrating examination of conscience, given practical steps to squash vice and cultivate virtue, and directed to the powerful channels of grace Christ entrusted to the Church. And I have no doubt that, like me, you will recognize Dr. Kevin Vost as one of today’s most gifted communicators of the Church’s divine and timeless wisdom.