ADVENT CONVERSION: Is it Possible to Stop Sinning? 5 Ways we can Sin Less
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The Sacred Liturgy for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and also for the holy season of Advent points us to stop sinning. Make straight the way of the Lord. Repent!
NAGA CITY, Philippines (Catholic Online) - For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I asked Our Lady if I could stop sinning.
I am not talking about stopping from being a sinner, or not having the power of sin working in my heart that is on the road to redemption, nor am I presuming to be better than the just man, who, as Proverbs says, falls seven times a day (24:6).
What I asked Our Lady, was to get rid of the mindset of sin, the thick layer of error of the doctrine of the world, that crusts on my mind that becomes the background setting of things I end up having to confess in the Sacrament of Penance.
Martin Luther, who we must say got it terrible, horribly wrong, put it this way, "If you're going to sin, sin boldly, for the mercy of God is greater than your sin." Yeah that's the world talking. Not. God. Perhaps the Catholic version goes like this, "You can go to confession afterward, so you might as well enjoy for the moment." What a bunch of fiddle faddle! So you forgot that sin wounds you? Why don't you just take a hammer and smash your fingers and then go to the Emergency Room?
Another way of putting it: everybody's doing it, so go ahead. Sin? Yeah it's normal. Those people that don't like it are weird. Again. Not. God. The norm of humanity, that we learn from Our Lady's Immaculate Conception is that, deeply, more deeply than we can understand, we were made for good. It is so deep in us that St Thomas Aquinas says that we cannot do evil unless it first appears to us as a good- which is another word for temptation.
In asking Mother Mary to stop sinning, I mean to ask her to be given a clear sight of the meaning and purpose of each act that I do, that I get rid of all other ends or goods, but the highest Good, God himself. Not what others are doing or not doing, not what is socially or ecclesiastically acceptable, but what God actually wants.
Here are 5 ways to accomplish what I am talking about:
1. Pray to Mary. A lot.
Ask. Don't just ask. Ask the one who when she asks God is not refused, i.e. knows how to ask. For most of this, it is just pure grace, which would explain why what I am saying will make sense, if you still don't quite get where I am coming from.
2. Place your death before you every day.
You were born yesterday and you'll be dead tomorrow. All you got is today. I mean really, I remember kindergarten like it was literally yesterday, and for the God to whom a thousand years are a day, well 30 years are not even a minute.
3. Ask where it will lead, to God or away, to heaven or to hell.
Why? Why are you doing that, saying that, thinking that? Is it going to bring you uptown or downtown, upstairs or downstairs, to heaven or to hell.
4. Go to confession. A lot.
I mean weekly, at least. Most of the time the errors of the world are in us because our conscience is rusty and dusty, and the sense of sin is non existent. If you writhe when I say, HELL, SIN, EVIL, and start making justifications, there is a good chance your heart needs a good cleaning. You wouldn't clean your kitchen once a month, and you have to cook there. Well you conscience is where most of your acts are cooked up.
5. Get rid of every possible occasion for grave sin.
Throw it out. Throw it away. Don't shake hands with it anymore. Don't play with it. Just get rid of it. If it causes you to sin, cut it off. Don't even attempt this one if you haven't 1-4. It will feel like you're cutting your arm off.
Here's the reason why I felt so emboldened to ask Our Lady for the grace to not sin again, the Sacred Liturgy. It is full of allusions to the Sinless Virgin helping us become sinless. So it is in fact the Church that leads us to ask Our Lady to become sinless as she is.
Grant, we pray that, as you preserved her from every stain
by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw,
so, through her intercession,
we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.
I will put emnity between you and the woman (Genesis 3:15)
He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Ephesians 11:6)
Hail, full of grace! (Luke 1:26)
Prayer over the Offerings:
Grant that, as we profess her...
to be untouched by any stain of sin,
so, through her intercession,
we may be delivered from all our faults.
For you preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
from all stain of original sin,
so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your grace,
you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son
and signify the beginning of the Church,
his beautiful Bride without spot or wrinkle.
She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son,
the innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses;
you placed her above all others
to be for your people an advocate of grace
and a model of holiness.
Prayer after Communion:
May the Sacrament we have received,
O Lord our God,
heal in us the wounds of that fault
from which in a singular way
you preserved Blessed Mary in her Immaculate Conception.
Through Christ our Lord.
Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and a formator for priestly candidates in their Asia-Pacific Seminary. His blog is http://medleyminute.blogspot.com
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