Spirituality for Today – March 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 8

My Own Worst Enemy

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of lightning against a dark night sky

Rooted in the human soul can be sins that are easily removed and those sins for which removal seem so temporary through a weakness of will or sins whose gravity is so severe that not even the sacrament can erase it. In this age of moral relativity, it appears odd that a person could entertain such thoughts at all. Seriously, sin – real and serious – is splattered before our eyes daily. Whether it is war between nations or between individuals, man's inhumanity readily is arrayed in the media. Our personal lives exhibit scenes of sin in so many of the daily happenings around us. Lenten thoughtfulness and the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation offer a remedy, but we have to believe in it and live it.

One of the attitudes that we have to escape is the thought that our repetitive sins are so dominant that God must be disgusted with my inability to rid my life of them. I certainly understand why we might become disgusted with ourselves, but Jesus taught us about the unrelenting forgiveness of sins that he expects between each other and we must realize that divine forgiveness is far more abundant that ours. The Lord is aware that we repent for some sins that never darken our souls again and that we continuously repent for sins that, through human weakness, we might struggle against for a lifetime.

When I haven't forgiven myself, I am confined by sources of resentment and the bleakness of despair. Forgiveness really is freedom. When I forgive, my message is this: "I see who you are, and not what you've done. Now go and be yourself. Become all you are meant to be. Let your light shine." As with most elements of the spiritual journey, that cleansing freedom must start within if we hope to give it to others.

Richard S. Patterson, The Enemy Within, Saint Anthony Messenger

Theologians have stated that the sin against the Holy Spirit – the unforgivable sin – is the denial within our deepest self that the Holy Spirit can forgive us. Although this feeling expresses a personal recognition of a sin's seriousness and an authentically sorrowful contrition, it denotes that the mission of Jesus Christ on earth was not for us. We must not imagine that a particular sin or a long, sinful past is beyond the pale of God's mercy. At first glance, it appears that the "Good Thief" hanging on a cross next to Jesus had a "death bed conversion," but I would guess that he had a remorse for his acts earlier and now has come into the presence of the only hope that he had for salvation. God calls us to face the reality of our sins, but to hope in the loving mercy of the God who is our creator. God incarnate walked among us and bore our sins in order to save us and to show the love of the Father. Salvation from our sins and the call to live eternally in his Kingdom is the gift and the goal for humanity. I feel fearful for the deceitful; I feel confident for the truly penitent.

During this holy season, many of the mysteries surrounding sin and death and resurrection may open themselves to the minds and hearts of men and women of faith. Lent invites us to look thoughtfully at the written record of human history and ponder the contributions to understanding and activating the best in our natures. Regrettably, human history has a surfeit of the horrible, sinful acts that human beings perpetuate. Much can be gained by considering the words of philosophers, scholars, and the other sages of the secular world, but what all humanity truly requires to satisfy its hunger for healing, forgiveness, peace, contentment is beyond the competence of mere earthly wisdom. What we need only can be provided by the love of God. In the words of Saint Augustine, "I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden." The Lord will give you the "rest" of his mercy and love.