I have issues, man. And every now and again I take a faceplant on the path to holiness.
See, every now and again I’m reminded that I need to head to Confession. Priests are only human; those to whom much is given… etc. The burden of conscience is higher since we’re trained in such issues to begin with and go through years of ‘formation’ so that when anything which might cause us to fall into sin, (be it mortal, venial, whatever) — anger, pride, envy, lust, gluttony… is experienced, we have the experience and tools necessary to manage and cope with the stresses which lead to that.
In reality we live in the community of believers, and often have to rely on them for insights and help when things get sketchy. As King David wrote (and for all the Biblical scholars out there who debate whether or not it was David who actually wrote the Psalms, I can only say that it doesn’t matter, and you don’t know, ) “I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.”
Practically, sometimes we just fall into the trap of worldliness. And while some things may not be sin for others, when you have an informed conscience and know better, you just join the ranks of sinners and fall into line for the Confessional.
The Catholic Encyclopedia has some great writing on concupiscence, (noting as well that it does not refer to simply lust, in case you’re wondering what area of sin we’re talking about here, which is really none of your business, but moreso not germane to the point.) Basically, it sums up what Paul writes to us in his Letter to the Romans — that I don’t do the good that I want to do, I do the evil that I do not want to do. Try this on for size, from the Knox translation of Romans 7:15-23:
“My own actions bewilder me; what I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate. 16 Why then, if what I do is something I have no wish to do, I thereby admit that the law is worthy of all honour; 17 meanwhile, my action does not come from me, but from the sinful principle that dwells in me. 18 Of this I am certain, that no principle of good dwells in me, that is, in my natural self; praiseworthy intentions are always ready to hand, but I cannot find my way to the performance of them; 19 it is not the good my will prefers, but the evil my will disapproves, that I find myself doing. 20 And if what I do is something I have not the will to do, it cannot be I that bring it about, it must be the sinful principle that dwells in me. 21 This, then, is what I find about the law, that evil is close at my side, when my will is to do what is praiseworthy. 22 Inwardly, I applaud God’s disposition, 23 but I observe another disposition in my lower self, which raises war against the disposition of my conscience, and so I am handed over as a captive to that disposition towards sin which my lower self contains.
This is my life, people!
Or if not my life, at least a part of it. But if the Apostle went through the same experiences, I can’t be in bad company when I strive for holiness and intend to live victoriously over sin.
Advent, starting this evening, is a great time to root out the things in our lives tempting us to sin, in whatever form it takes in our lives. We’re all tempted and give in to sin in various ways, yet the struggle for holiness is what we’re given grace to accomplish. Pray for me, I’m certainly praying for you… whoever you are.