(My sharing on the third station of the cross)
WHAT fills our newspapers these days? Do you notice the headlines and all the top stories that trend in the internet? I believe you will agree with me that they are mostly negative. Crimes, scandals, violence, never ending accusations, and the like. Father Vic Santos, during our meditation on the third station of the way of the cross, where Jesus falls the first time says, if you scrutinize these events, they are all a consequence of sin.
He expounds further, Pope Pious XII said, “The greatest tragedy is - if man loses the sense of sin.” Apparently, this is the scenario we have in the world now. It appears that sin has become trivial to men. It’s commonplace. It’s acceptable. It’s the way of life. But, should this be our way of life?
I can imagine Jesus on the way to Calvary, as he falls for the first time. He must have looked up, and have seen the multitude around him, moving like sheep without a shepherd. The sight of His beloved people lost in sin and sending a shooting pain in His soul, must have made Him stagger. The heavy weight of the cross bearing on His frail shoulders, made Him fall.
After Father Vic described the shooting pain reaching the soul of Christ, I felt pained and guilty for adding to that weight that Jesus carried. Our sins today, no matter how small (venial) or big (mortal), add to that weight of the cross. Thus, Father challenged us to wage a real battle with sin. Sin causes sorrow to God, and worst of all, sin destroys man, as we turn away from God. This is precisely why Jesus died on the cross to save us and free us from our slavery to sin.
The Bible says, “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” - Romans 6:23
But, why do we continue to sin? “Sapagkat tayo ay tao lamang?” (Because we are just human?) This question has led me to continue reading more about man’s nature. Is man inherently evil?
Not from what I understand. After all, we are created in the image and likeness of God. But because of Adam’s sin, we are all stained. Nevertheless, inspite of the fall of man, he still bears the imprint of God.
Man instead is inherently weak. We have human desires that we, on our own, are oftentimes, unable to control. Desires on their own are not bad. God has planted some desires in our heart for our good. Giving in to uncontrolled desires is what leads us to sin. For example, desire for food is necessary to live. But, uncontrolled desire for food will lead to gluttony. Desire for wealth is not bad. It is the uncontrolled desire for it that leads man to sin.
The world around us now, with its propensity for satisfying man’s ego and the flesh, is in no ideal situation to help us avoid sin. The world shouts, “Sin is unavoidable.” “Sin is commonplace.” “Sin is good.” “Sin is desirable.” “Sin is acceptable.” “Sin is the way of life.”
This is Satan’s cry in this world and he continues to reign in our fallen world. Satan takes advantage of our weaknesses, and our vulnerability to temptation, like he did with Eve. Satan tempts us everyday, and influences our minds and our senses with all the “wonderful” things the world can offer: possessions, power, prestige, popularity, pleasure, good looks, good food, good time, and so forth and so on.
As Christians, how do we wage a real battle with sin? How do I not lose the “sense of sin”? Fr. Vic said, “It is not enough to do the barest minimum;” which I believe he meant, “It is not enough to just follow the Ten Commandments.” I ought to ask myself, what more can I do to love God? What do I do so as not to fall into sin?
St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, said, “Unless a soul begins to fight venial sins, there is no spiritual life.” In fact, there is a multitude of venial sins, which when put together can break us. Being aware of these will help us avoid them. The seven capital sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Venial sins come in many forms: Laziness, lack of upright intentions, indifference to sorrow, distraction to prayer, caprice, moodiness, stiffness in dealing with others, vanity, sins of omission, white lies, and many others.
“The most awesome and skillful warriors are those who are the purest. God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword; it divides between soul and spirit. Therefore, we ought to turn to God’s words to fight the enemy, which is sin. Every sin conquered is a fortress taken. “Let the high praises be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” - Psalm 149:6
In other words, we need the supernatural weapon of prayer. The more we pray and read the word of God, the more we will know God. The more we know Him, the more we will love Him, and want to please Him, by avoiding even the most venial sin.
I come boldly to Your throne of grace, that I may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16) Please forgive me for all my trespasses, both sins of commission and of omission.
Grant me Oh Lord, the grace to realize the gravity of even just one venial sin. Help me please to be more aware and particular about the condition of my soul.
Teach me not to lose the sense of sin. May I be sensitive to the sharp and shooting pain that even my one venial sin directs to Your heart. Amen.
Your sinful child.