Reflection on Sin

I think that in today’s culture, most people think they are pretty good people. And I would agree, that by our culture’s standards, that most people I know or meet are good people. But if God’s standards are used to determine how good we are as a people, then we have a problem.

When we think about God’s standards, we have to think about the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God and the two great commandments that Jesus taught us. Those are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and have no other gods before Him and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. He said these two commandments incorporated and summarized the Law of Moses and all the Prophets.

In todays culture when we hear words like “don’t do this” or “don’t do that”, like we find in the ten commandments, many of us respond in a negative way. We don’t want to be told what to do or not to do. We get all riled up with the feeling that “nobody’s going to tell me what to do.” and we don’t see the wisdom within these simple rules. If we were the ones composing these rules for the citizens of the world, I have to think that ideals of the Ten Commandments would be the default rules in order for a society to live and flourish. All of them are common sense directives to live a successful life, as an individual or as a society.

The commandments are given to us by God, not to limit us from experiencing life, but as gifts to help us live more fully; to free us from sinfulness, thereby allowing us to enter into a personal relationship with the Creator to live a supernatural life.

Most people don’t understand this basic tenet of wisdom. We don’t get it because we do not really see Jesus as our highest treasure, and we sin by anger, resentment, envy, and vanity in the human trials of everyday life. When we desire to live for God, and seek His thanks, appreciation, and love, rather than be concerned about getting what we want and what people think of us, then we will begin to live a life of eternal success.

I really don’t think that people who are not growing their faith and their relationship with Jesus, believe that they are sinners and from the small percentage of people in lines that I see for confession in churches that I attend, it appears that even the faithful seem to lack a sincere sorrow for their sins, or they feel that their sinfulness is not important in their relationship with God and their salvation, as I sometimes do.

On the other hand, the people that are serious about their faith seem concerned with their sinfulness and are found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis, monthly, if not weekly. I’m not saying these folks are any more sincere than those who do not frequent the sacrament; it just appears that they have a better understanding of sin.

Sin is defined as an act, thought, or way of behaving that goes against the norms of society or against the teachings of a religion, especially when the person is aware that he is doing wrong.

Sin distances us from God. Sincerity and misunderstanding is no substitute for truth. God accepts us where we are, however, I have found from the reading of Scripture, Church teaching, the saint’s lives and my understanding of sin at this point in my life, there seems to be a dichotomy, the closer one is to God, the more he recognizes sin in his life and vice-versa; the farther one is from Christ, the less the significant sin is in their way of life.

So, if you think that you are a good person, great, because God wants you to be good and happy, but if in your goodness, you forget about God and all the blessings He has bestowed on you and you don’t recognize sin in your life like I sometimes fail to do, then you may want to re-examine your priorities and spend some quiet time with God in prayer and ask Him to help you recognize where you have let Him down, so He can continue to pour out His blessings and mercy on you and prepare you for eternal life.

The Eucharist and the Holy Spirit

The significance of the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist has been examined by all serious Catholics since Jesus instituted the Sacrament over two thousand years ago, but many of us still under estimate its significance in our own lives. There is a difference between reception and worthy reception of this great Sacrament. If we contemplate a worthy reception of the Body and Blood of our Lord, we have to consider the state of our soul. Are we in the state of grace or are we trying to deal with unrepentant sin and still trying to receive our Lord?

We Christians strive to remain in the state of grace because we love the Lord and want to please Him. We should focus more on improving the practices of virtue rather than being consumed with sin. Minimally, we stay in the state of grace by not committing mortal sin, which separates us from God, and try to avoid venial sin, which do not separate us from God, but limits the amount of grace which God can bestow on us. And if we are not vigilant about venial sins, they can make us more susceptible to temptation and committing mortal sin. And even on our best days, we disappoint our Lord with our wretchedness. Thank God for His mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we Catholics can go and receive forgiveness of these sins, if we have a true sorrow and a firm purpose of amending the thoughts and actions that caused the sin.

So the goal of Christians should be to be to remain in the state of Grace, united to the Holy Spirit, not only to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ’s way, but also to be able to worthily receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (The Eucharist) at Mass, at least weekly and Holy Days and more often if our schedule allows. When we are in the state of Grace, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who dwells within us.

There are multiple dimensions of the worthy reception of the Eucharist and this thought is just one of those. When we receive the Holy Eucharist in the state of Grace, we are not only receiving spiritual blessings, we are in a unique, physical, material way uniting Jesus, His Body and Blood and the Holy Spirit. Obviously the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the love between the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit are united spiritually in a mysterious way that our minds can’t fully comprehend, but this worthy reception of our Lord is a special physical way of uniting the Holy Spirit, ourselves, and Jesus. In other words, the Body and Blood of Jesus united to the Holy Spirit through us. And if we allow ourselves to be aware of this significant event, we in our nothingness can be swept up and be united with pure love and we can express our fiat somewhat as Mary, the mother of God, did at the Annunciation of our Lord when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she received spiritual blessings and conceived the physical embryo of Jesus. We too are a vessel into which God pours the physical and spiritual blessings of His body and blood and like Mary we can say yes to God’s transforming love.

Let us strive to remain in the state of grace so we can fully embrace our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and let’s receive often. God bless you.

A Thought about Prayer

I was thinking this morning about being in the state of grace and being filled with the Holy Spirit and prayer in general. One of the prayers I pray every day is “Come Holy Spirit, come by the means of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.” If we are indeed filled with the Holy Spirit, then He doesn’t have to come. Perhaps this prayer is just a request to our Holy Mother to help us to be more aware of the Holy Spirit that exists in the hearts of the faithful.

In all prayer, we often pray to a distant God, who is up there or out there in heaven waiting on us to lift up our petitions when in fact, God is with us and knows us and dwells in us and knows all that we, think, do and say. It’s our lack of awareness of this God who loves us that we struggle with often times. We get so caught up in temporal matters throughout our days, that we lack awareness of the spiritual world which co-exists in our midst. It seems to me that the more we hunger and thirst for God and His will in our life, the more He illuminates our soul with the light of the Holy Spirit and we become more often aware of the God within.

Everything is a gift, especially this awareness of God. I think it reflects what Saint Paul was talking about when He said that we should pray constantly, or in other words be in communion with the Holy Spirit within us at all times and in all situations, aware that we have a God who loves us more than we can possibly realize at this point in our lives and pursues us and wants us to follow His way so He can bless us in all things. Thank you Jesus, the Light of the World.