Monday, February 4, 2019

Why we slip into sin so easily is often attributed to the fact that we have failed to maintain a strong and loving relationship with God.

It is not by accident that the first fall of humankind is named as pride by many scripture scholars and theologians.  Although pride was depicted as a mere taking of a forbidden fruit, what led to that was a suggestion that the first couple were better off knowing than not knowing and that they had a right to what they wanted rather than to be contented with living with boundaries and limits (also known as living in mystery), and that life had to be lived with areas that are literally ‘out-of-bounds’.  All sin stems from knowing what God wants, but letting what we want get the better of us.  

The one primary reason we fall easily into sin is because we have often failed to keep God within our immediate horizon of life.  An example that is really relevant here is that of a spouse in a loving marriage. If a man who is married keeps the fact that he is married and has committed his life to his wife constantly on the horizon of his consciousness, there will be very little chance of him being unfaithful.  That he is called to fidelity to this one woman, living in a sacred covenant, is going to be something that filters off relationships that have the potential to injure this covenant.  

But just as this is something that has a practical application in life, it is just as practical in the spiritual and moral dimension as well.  When penitents confess to having sinned, they often also confess to not having been faithful in praying.  Therein lies both the illness and the cure.  If one has been faithful in prayer (not just saying prayers, but truly establishing a loving relationship with God), there is very little reason one would find genuine pleasure in things that God does not delight in.  Faithfulness in prayer is when we pray at all times.  

St Paul himself was an advocate of constant prayer, but I am sure that he did not mean that one should be fingering rosary beads 24/7, or mumbling chants throughout the day, or dousing oneself with holy water incessantly.  Faithfulness in prayer is faithfulness in loving God.  Many Catholics, I believe, are too limited in their understanding of praying always.  It is not the same as saying prayers always.  No one can do that – not even Carthusian monks, I’m afraid.  Even they have their segments of their 24-hour day when they do work and study.  Are they praying while they are doing that?  Certainly that is the aim, where they become contemplatives in action.  But not all of us are called to cloistered living, but all of us, without exception, are called to a life of holiness.  It isn’t just the purview of the notable few, but every single baptized Catholic.  And yes, that includes, you, the reader of this reflection.  Don’t shortchange yourself by telling yourself that you do not have a call to sainthood.  Perhaps no one has told you yet in such a clear and direct way, but it is a truth that needs to be said, and needs to be believed in.  

Setting God, his love and his presence within our immediate horizon of our lives and not relegating him to only a segment of our lives (like maybe an hour on Sundays only) is a sure way of keeping pride at bay, the cause of the fall of our first parents.  We hunger for so many different things in life, from success to mammon in all its various forms.  

A predilection for sin is a result of training our hunger only in things that satisfy us, but things that hardly nourish the soul.  

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