Sin entered the world.
Idle Speculations has a provocative essay on the subject of envy and discord. I recommend it to all bloggers. God bless us every one!
Envy's twin is discord.Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.
Basil Cole OP in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology defines it thus:
"Envy is a sadness at the success or good achieved by another. Someone’s good fortune or even virtue is seen by someone captivated by this vice as a personal threat.Its offspring are tale-bearing, detraction, joy at another’s misfortune, and grief at another’s prosperity.The Catechism adds to this notion that it is a refusal of charity (§2540), which would be a rejoicing in the goodness of someone else as a gift from God to the community"
Envy is an offence of the Second Great Command: "Love Your Neighbour as Yourself". It was set out in the Tenth Commandment which according to the Catechism (§2534) "concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth, it summarizes all the precepts of the Law." - Envy and Jealousy
We see this in life - it is the source of much of our conflict and unhappiness: "You envy and you cannot acquire, so you quarrel and fight." - James 4. It is a spiritual sin we can often fail to see in ourselves, especially when we are consumed by the acquisition of, or the defense of, our so-called rights; and more grossly, when we are either enslaved by our passions through mortal sin, or while in a spiritual combat to overcome sin - especially the more obvious and dramatic sins of the flesh.
The sinful character of envy comes more clearly to light when we compare it – for example – to zeal:
Whereas the envious man “begrudges” the goods of another and sees them as a threat to his own status, his glory or reputation, the zealous man does not grieve over the goods others possess, but desires to acquire them himself. “The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.”
The envious man considers the goods – spiritual or material – of others as his own evil. The zealous man preserves the goodness of things in others – but wishes to enjoy the same goodness proper to these goods. And he is virtuous in doing so if it is a moral good he wishes to acquire. The envious man destroys goodness in others in seeing it as an evil for himself which makes him smaller, less honored, less pious, less intelligent, less esteemed and – less lovable.
We see here why envy belongs to the deadly sins: Its essential character is directed against the love of God, God Himself, Who is the source of all goodness – in us and in all men. And if envy is sorrow for the increase of God’s grace in our neighbor, “it is accounted a sin against the Holy Ghost, because thereby a man envies, as it were, the Holy Ghost Himself, Who is glorified in His works.”
Envy weeps at those who rejoice and rejoices at those who weep. Weeping over our neighbor’s good – which is envy, gives rise to joy in his evil.
Of course: Also envy is committed as a grave and mortal sin only if both – our knowledge and our will – fully embrace this sadness over our neighbor’s goods. St. Thomas says:
“Nevertheless, in every kind of mortal sin we find certain imperfect movements in the sensuality, which are venial sins: … so in [regard to]… envy we find sometimes even in perfect men certain first movements, which are venial sins.” - Courageous Priests
I'm not sure where I am going with this - but it is something I am meditating and examining my conscience on.
Art: Allegories of the Virtues and Vices - Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua. Detail Invidia (envy).