Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Desert, Sin, and the Tangible Loss of Grace

In the desert we are faced with ourselves and with our God.

If we are honest with ourselves and in our response to the Holy Spirit when He beckons us to enter the desert, we will experience what could be a rude awakening.

In the desert, where the Light of Christ pierces our souls as the desert sun, all those areas within us that are in shadow and darkness will begin to stand out.

For, as the desert sun grows higher in the sky, so too the shadows and darkness no longer will have a place to hide.

The shadows are those little areas where we remain selfish, from cutting someone off in traffic, to saying no to the beggar, or doing something for self at the expense of our families, friends, and others. These little selfish things, these shadows, can grow into great rooms of darkness.
Sin "hates the light". (p. 889 New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality)
The Light, the desert sun, belongs to Jesus Christ, and how we react to His Light, the desert sun, is a very real indicator of where we stand in our relationship, or lack of one, with Him.

If immersed in our own selfish world with no regard for the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to open ourselves to the Light, to the sun, we are in grave danger. A very real method of cutting off the Light is throwing up interior walls, barriers, curtains to prevent the Light from penetrating our shadows. Or, we may try and hide ourselves behind some form of induced constant busyness, obsession with some thing or someone, or perhaps we are completely focused on doing as opposed to being.
What? You want me to let go of what? Why should I do that? I don't want to! I like where I am, I am comfortable, leave me alone!
And therein lies the crux of the Holy Spirit's call to put out into the desert. It is a call to stand with our God and face our wounds, weaknesses, failures, our sin.

There is a point, and it is different for each of us, where we completely sever our relationship with God. We allow ourselves to grow in our selfishness, our sin, to the point where we completely push God out of our lives. This can happen gradually as we start down the slippery slope of entertaining our temptations to the point of gratifying them, or it can be a situation or event where we act or refuse to act according to God's Will in a very serious matter.

This point where we have turned our back on God completely is called Mortal, or Serious, Sin. Mortal meaning death, or a complete severing of our Life Line of Grace.

There are three conditions that must be met for us to completely sever our relationship with God, that is enter into a state of Mortal Sin:
  1. We must have a clear understanding that the act, or lack of action, is contrary to the Law of Love and the 10 Commandments.
  2. We must give our will completely to that act or inaction without any reservation or coercion.
  3. The act or inaction must be very grave in nature and consequences.
We need only look to the 10 Commandments for a baseline of the kinds of actions or inactions that can constitute Mortal Sin.

Along with this baseline of the 10 Commandments there is:
  • the Holy Scriptures
  • the writings of the Saints
  • a constant prayer to the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, the Angels, and the Saints
They will also help us develop our sensitivity to the sin in our lives. We will begin to see the contrast between the Light of Jesus Christ as it begins to shine within us, and the shadows and darkness that is our sin.

The desert gives us an opportunity to embrace the realization that we have in some way, shape, or form either turned our eyes away from or turned our backs completely on Jesus.

For us Catholics, we are given the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the means to bring ourselves back into right relationship with God. If Reconciliation is not available, there is also, hopefully, the opportunity for one to truly repent of one's Mortal Sin before death. Ultimately, one's state of grace in life and before death, that is relationship with God, can only be determined between that person and God.

It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where the Precious Blood of Jesus pours out upon our wounds and sin to cleanse our wounds and remove the stain of sin.

There are times where the loss of grace can be tangible. This is especially true for those who convert from a life lived willingly in darkness and are now working with the Holy Spirit to allow the Light of Christ to reside within. The loss of grace eliminates our share in the Lord's divinity; it reduces us to something less than we truly are; it places our soul in peril of hell. It essentially turns out the Light!

And on the flip side of that tangible loss of grace, during the Sacrament of Reconciliation there are times where one can tangibly experience the Blood of Jesus pouring into the wounds caused by the sins committed earlier. One can experience one's person being buoyed up by the infusion of His grace!

It is truly the person of Jesus Christ within the priest with us there in the confessional, laying His hands upon our head to rain His Divine Mercy down upon us. When one leaves the confessional, one knows that one is in right relationship with Jesus the Lord! One does not need to have tangible experiences to know this.

The Church in Her Wisdom realizes our need to make our relationship right with the Lord. Thus, we are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the season of Lent.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to work within us during the Lenten Season. We must allow ourselves to be open to the Holy Spirit's drawing our attention to the areas within our lives where sin dominates. We must allow ourselves to be drawn into the desert to sit with ourselves and our God.

If we do not, our relationship with God runs the risk of death.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, inspire us to accept Your call to enter into the desert. Fill us with a spirit of honesty to deal rightly with those areas in our lives that You point out to us as needing work. Help us to work up the courage to bring our sin before Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Help us to embrace our Cross.

Thank You Holy Spirit for the gifts of Your inspiration! Thank You Jesus for the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation!

Pax vobis,


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