are sinners. It is an ineradicable
part of our human nature as the patrimony of Original Sin — and all
its deleterious vestiges — passed on to us from our first Parents, Adam
and Eve. In a word, it has its “hooks” in us, specifically
concupiscence (our inherent inclination to sin), and try as we
may, the barbs remain deeply embedded. They cannot be removed. This
inclination to sin remains with us all our lives. That primal
poison, Original Sin itself, is cleansed from us through our Baptism,
but the wound remains ... and remains open to the infection of sin.
It must be kept sterile, free from the pathogens that surround it, awaiting
the first opportunity to breach the barrier of grace and
metastasize, to spread the deadly infection into every area of our lives.
This requires Actual Grace — and Actual Grace depends upon our cooperation
with God in avoiding sin and the near occasion of sin, much as we would
avoid a virulent bacterium that we know, once exposed to, is perilous
to us. God calls us away from it — from sin — and we must cooperate
with that divine call to avoid what will seriously harm us, and may
likely kill us. It is quite that serious.
But we are fallen
in our nature, and lifelong heirs to that dangerous patrimony from Adam
and Eve. We fall. Despite the clear admonition by God and even the canons
of reason, we sin.
As one who comes
to his senses and realizes that the beautiful Belladonna was deadly
— and turned out to be “Deadly Nightshade” — we seek the remedy. We
are not slow in doing so, but act at once, in fact, instantly
when the realization is upon us that our very lives are now in very
In the case of mortal
sin, no worldly doctor or hospital will avail us anything. There is
one and only one antidote and its stages unfold progressively. Let us
look at them:
First we cast away
the deadly nightshade and flee from the copse! We run from it as if
our lives depended on it — and they do. We flee from the occasion
that introduced us to it and with all our hearts we are determined to
return to it no more. We place distance between ourselves and the peril.
Immediately we seek
the remedy, imploring the Actual Grace that will bring us to forgiveness
by God. The longer we wait, the more the poison of sin courses through
us and the deadlier its consequences, the uglier its blight. We do not
have the time or the leisure examine it in retrospect or to dispute
its causes. It is imperative that we act at once!
What to do
We fall to our knees
(literally, not figuratively) and at once implore
God’s forgiveness — never presuming it! To comfortably
presume the forgiveness of God is itself a sin — the sin
of presumption; in other words, the presumption that God
must and will forgive us no matter what. If we approach
God with the mistaken notion that He is obligated to forgive
us because He is God, we are quite wrong: God is not our
debtor: we are His! We cannot approach God to seek what we mistakenly
believe is ours — in this case forgiveness — by right!
This is nothing short of compounding sin with insolence!
We express in the
greatest anguish possible ... our sincere sorrow for what we
have done and to Whom we have done it! We do not plead excuses!
That is another poison altogether. We do not lay the blame on others,
or appeal to “mitigating” circumstances: we completely and justly assume
it ourselves: totally and in absolute humility. It is
our fault — no matter the circumstances and no matter
our weakness or susceptibility to the sin. God knows far better than
we do, and any “attenuating circumstances” (if any) He is well aware
of — far more than you are.
in the Name of Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ and
plead for the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy. Call upon
the Saints to plead your cause! Invoke the Holy Company of Martyrs
to pray with you and for you and to assist you
in your prayer, that it be absolutely sincere and acceptable to God,
the Father of Mercies.
And then make the
“firm resolution” — the genuine and heartfelt resolution to sin no more
— especially in the sin for which you now express your sorrow. If you
are “ashamed” that is quite beside the point. That is selfish self-love:
you have disappointed yourself ... and this is far removed from
recognizing that you have sinned against God Himself! You feel yourself
a fool. That, too, is beside the point, even though you have behaved
like a fool and deserve the derision due a fool.
How, you may ask,
do you know that your resolution to sin no more this way is real? A
pretty good test is to be found in the answer to this question: If you
could go back in time and encounter that temptation to sin exactly as
you had when you fell into it, would you really “not
do it again”? Only you can answer that, and the likelihood of your forgiveness
by God very much depends upon it. It is a fairly good test of
First and foremost
Your first act
is to immediately recognize and acknowledge that you
have sinned against God ... the instant that the sin
is committed or enacted.
Go to your knees before your God, confess your sin and express your
You MUST go to Confession! God’s priest is the only person
on earth able to absolve you of your sin through the Sacrament
It is true that perfect sorrow is conducive to God's forgiveness.
He is a loving Father. But Christ gave His priests the sacramental
ability to forgive sins in Him and through Him and His Church. If
it was given, it must be used.
Rise up! And sin no more!
sin as the most horrible, despicable, and mortal enemy that it is. There
is no greater atrocity in this world than sin. None. It
is the province and allurement of the evil one. Look upon a Crucifix
and contemplate the price for your sin: see how it marred Him
Who is the “Innocent of the Father”. It literally cost Christ His life!
fall again, get up again. The last sin is despair: it
is the last sin for it is the second death. However often you sin, it
is never the excuse for sinning again, but do not despair: neither
is the mercy of Almighty God to be outdone by our proclivity to sin!
Indeed, “The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting
to everlasting on them that fear him.” (Ps. 103.17)
man, that God is merciful ... and that God is
also just. For this reason Saint Paul tells us
that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Do not presume
upon God’s mercy. “I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy.” (Exodus 33.19
and Romans 9.15)
is the propitiation for our sins. Love Him. Adore Him. Serve Him. And
cleave to Him Who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He
died for your sins. At the very least you must own up to
Away now to Confession …!
Boston Catholic Journal
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