sinned ... what now?
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,
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 real danger.
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.
Ask forgiveness 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
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 sincerest sorrow.
go to Confession! God’s priest is the only person on earth able
to absolve you of your sin through the Sacrament of Penance.
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!
Avoid 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!
If you 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)
Remember, 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)
Christ 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 them.
Away now to Confession
Boston Catholic Journal
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