Moral Theology, Volume 1, by St. Alphonsus Liguori , Ryan Grant (Translator)
CHAPTER III: On the Capital Sins in Particular
(. . .)
What is envy?
72.—Resp. There is sadness on another good, exactly as it is diminutive of a proper excellence, so that these would be directly against charity; for this rejoices in the good of our neighbor but envy desires the good of our neighbor to be destroyed, or is sad when it is not.
(When one disputes on this sin, take notice of propositions 13, 14, and 15 among those condemned by Innocent XI).
Thus the following are resolved:
1. It is mortal by its very nature, and very serious and also against the Holy Spirit, if it would be over grace itself, or the help of God.
2. The daughters, similarly, are mortal of their nature and are numbered:
a) hatred, on which we spoke of above;
b) Detraction, on which we will speak on the 8th commandment;
c) Joy in the evils of our neighbor;
d) Gossiping, which is speech about one’s neighbor to destroy his friendship with others, which hence one is held to make restitution for gossiping, and again to reconcile, not otherwise and the detractor of repute not otherwise. See on the 8th commandment.
Whether someone could dissolve the friendship of another short of infamy by telling others, viz. about natural defects, or similar things, that it would follow he be expelled from the place? Some authors reject that (Azor, Trull. Filliuci, etc., cited by the Salamancans de rest. c. 4, p. 3, n. 22). But others uphold it (the Salamancans bid., with de Soto, Bonacina, Arag. Serra, Prado), because although without force or fraud to procure good gratuity for someone, with exclusion of another. But the first opinion is more probable, while Lessius (l. 2, c. 11, dub. 3, n. 14) and the Salamancans themselves (ibid., p. 5, § 2, n. 45), with Navarre, Bonacina, Sayr, and Diana, teach in common that publication of natural defects will be a grave sin, if thence one impeded another from obtaining some temporal good: since therefore a publication of this sort will be unjust in itself, otherwise it fraudulently is procured from the acquired friendship.
3. If there will be sadness over the good of another, insofar as it is for him, or otherwise if one fears harm, e.g. his enemy is carried to office so that he could more easily harm him, it is not envy but fear, which is not per se a sin unless it were disordered. Laymann, l. 3, tr. 3, c. 10.
4. If sadness were for that which a is good lacking in us, which another has, so that, nevertheless, we do not desire it for another, it is not envy but emulation, or zeal, which is in regard to a genuine good, and it is praiseworthy; but if in regard to temporal things, it is a venial sin, such as if a good were disproportionate to the one that was sad, such as if a country bumpkin were sad that he were not king. Laymann, l. 3, tr. 3, c. 10, n. 2.
5. If the sadness is over the good of another insofar as it is unworthy, it is not envy but indignation, which is not a sin; still, it will be even a mortal sin if either one would take issue with the providence of God (and that is a blasphemy), or if it would so affect that it would lead men to imitate an evil. Cajetan, Laymann (loc. cit.)
6. If one were sad that another might increase to be equal to him, or not much unequal in an excellence, that he would become superior to him and the former would apprehend the increase of the excellence as bad for him, it is envy properly so called; for one is said to be envious because he is not seeing, because he cannot see the good of another man without sadness. 6 Bald., d. 29, l. 3.
So they usually sin:
a) the ambitious, and those who seek glory in some matter which, when they put in it, that in that matter they might alone be singular, they are grieved and sad when if others accede to it;
b) The pusillanimous, to whom all things seem great, they think each good of another diminishes them, just as some women easily apprehend and are sad if someone has a higher good than they, e.g. beauty;
c) Old men in respect to the youth, and everyone that difficulty obtains something which others easily obtain. Bald., loc. cit.
7. Someone in his adversity, or on account of the prosperity of others, desires that he was never born, or that he were made into a brute animal, or curses the day he was born, or that he first saw another man, or married, if he only intends to curse irrational creatures, e.g. days (or the day of his birth or marriage), which seems to him to have brought on so many evils or punishments, it is only venial (sometimes it is also no sin at all, such as Job), moreover, if he deliberately intends to desire evil for a man, or himself, or another on the day that they were born or married, it is a mortal sin. Escobar, and Marchant., man. c. 3.