#100 – Sin
Before we delve too deeply into the effects of sin in our lives and how to counter it in order to continue on our path towards conversion this Lent we must first define sin itself. Once more I turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation. – CCC 1850
Sin is something that separates me from God. This something causes me to turn away from God and in effect I am saying “I know better. I can do this with no consequences to my relationship with God.” I know it is wrong. I know it may be quite evil. Or because it’s perceived to be a small thing and I have done it so much I have become numb to it and have “normalized” it. The phrase “practice makes perfect” is just as relevant to sin as any other habit we are trying to engrain in our lives.
A part of our meditation from Divine Intimacy today reminds us of what unites us to God, and how sin separates us from Him.
The essence of Christian perfection consists in union with God by charity (love). While charity, by conforming our wills to God’s, unites us to Him, grave sin, which directly opposes His will, produces the opposite effect. In other words, charity is the force uniting man to God, and sin the force drawing him away. Serious sin is therefore the greatest enemy of the spiritual life, since it not only injures it, but destroys it in its constituent elements: charity and grace. This destruction, this spiritual death, is the inevitable result of sin, the act by which man voluntarily detaches himself from God, the one source of life, charity, and grace. As the branch cannot live if it is separated from the trunk, neither can the soul live if separated from God.
In yesterday’s post, The desire for sanctity we learned that sanctity is the “plenitude of love and grace; it is transformation in God by love.” What we learn today is that sin is in opposition to our sanctity because it draws us away from love and from grace. And we are the ones who do this. Free will means we have the choice whether to build that wall and separate ourselves or to stay united to the Body of Christ. We choose.
I choose. Too often do I choose poorly. I choose poorly for many reasons that include pride or selfishness. Often it’s because I convince myself that what I do does not affect anyone else. This is a mistake.
…for the misfortune of one is the misfortune of the others; each sin is a burden on the whole world and disturbs the equilibrium of God’s plan. (Divine Intimacy #100)
Like Calvin, I choose to do something that may seem like a great idea (for me) and something that seems harmless and fun (for me) and harms no one (except perhaps me). In this example from the comic strip however we see that his harmless fun and decision does affect someone adversely. A crude example, yet if I were to sit for a time and reflect upon the times in my life that I sinned I will begin to see how what I did affected others aside from myself. I do not sin in a vacuum. It is like throwing a pebble into a clear, calm pond. The pebble represents my sin. When it hits the water it causes ripples to fan out into the pond where others have thrown their own pebbles. Our ripples collide. Our ripples rock the lily pads resting calmly on the water’s surface. The small frog sitting on the lily pad may lose his balance or fall in. Sin has upset the serenity in the pond that we all share.
These ripples echo across history and may affect more than my own lifetime or era. History is full of such examples as well as consequences.
Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history. – CCC 386
In the colloquy we pray: But because reason is blind, they (all of humanity) act like madmen courting death, for they imagine that this death will bring them new life: they act, in short, like people bereft of reason.
Pride will cause us to sin. It steals our reason.
For Lent I’m taking a daily walk through Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen. It is a book of meditations steeped in Carmelite spirituality and has been a favorite of mine for over a decade.