My sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned. King David’s Psalm 51 is really a great act of contrition and sorrow. I remember chanting this especially on Fridays in the Divine Office and during Lent. Well, we are going into Lent soon but I don’t have to wait till the penitential season of Lent to recite Psalm 51.
I cannot recall a day when all is just plain sailing and nothing is too difficult to achieve. It would be more honest for me to tell you that I struggle daily.
G. K. Chesterton: “A saint is someone who knows he’s a sinner.”
Are we on the way? Only saints go to heaven, so we have to fight the good fight and win the race. St Paul, pray for us!
And if Ambrose writes about his struggle with sin, I can well empathise with him. You are not alone. If Isaiah the prophet can say “I am a man of unclean lips!” and Peter in the presence of the Messiah says, “Lord, leave me, for I am a sinful man” what about us?
I confess that I used to think that it was nonsensical; after all, if the holiest people in our tradition are those who are most aware of their sinfulness and are not afraid to admit their weaknesses, then what about us?
Holy persons have no illusions about themselves. They know that if they do not sin, it is only by the grace of God that they have remained vigilant and have indeed been protected by the grace of God. So, it is truly a surprising phenomenon that the saints seem to be those who are most conscious of their sinfulness.
Last year, I was reflecting on the fact that when one draws closer to the Lord, the Holy Spirit begins to teach and guide and direct. He begins to reveal the smudges and the imperfections. He shows in a gentle but firm way where correction is needed and how he can lead in the purification. The Holy Spirit is gentle; it is only the devil who accuses.
Close to the Light, we can only see smudges and imperfections
And where would we be if they were to remain hidden in the dark?
I thank God each time I read a report about someone who gets found out for a mortal sin. This is not sadism. It is really the acknowledgement of God’s unfailing love and mercy. If a thief remains one till his death, his chance of an eternal reward would be at risk. No one wants to die with a mortal sin. That would be like taking a plunge from a twenty storey building and hoping not to break a single bone. Needless to say, such a sinner plunges right into the abyss of darkness!
Lord, have mercy!