On Hatred of Sin as an Act of Charity
In the Book of Proverbs it says: “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness” (Prov. 8:7 DR).
Fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy spirit, given in Baptism and then strengthened and perfected in the sacrament of Confirmation. What does it mean to fear the Lord? According to the book of Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov 8:13).
In the current situation in the Church, which is reeling from the recent exposures of truly scandalous behavior amongst the clergy and the episcopate, by those who committed sexually abusive acts and by those who covered them up, we desperately need to rediscover the fear of the Lord, which is absent in so many ways and at so many levels of the Church. And the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), is the hatred of evil.
As I pointed out in a recent letter to the faithful of my diocese, the hatred of evil actually belongs to the virtue of charity. It is an act of love to hate sin; and it is a work of mercy to admonish sinners to tum away from their sin.
But how can it be that hatred, which is the opposite of love can also be an act of love? Hatred is a movement of the will away from the object that is hated. When we hate something we internally reject that thing as an evil; just as when we love something we internally affirm that thing as a good.
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