I live in part of the country that sometimes experiences severe ice storms. The aftermath of one of these events is a beautiful treachery. We are drawn to the incredible vision of the ice covered streets, trees and houses, while suffering the car accidents, power outages and floods (yes, our sump pumps stop working and our basements flood) that the storm brings on.
This reminds me of sin. The things that tempt us are often appealing, pretty and, at first glance, harmless. Like the ice, however, as soon as you venture into it, the dangers become evident. Before we know it, we are slip-sliding into sin.
Lent provides us with an opportunity to examine the things that tempt us. For me, the deadly sins are anger and pride. They reveal themselves in the strangest ways….often looking like something appealing. For instance, I do not like clutter. I like things to be neat and tidy. I love to paint and fix up my house. These sound like admirable traits, but for me they can backfire. Six of my seven kids still live at home, so keeping things regularly picked up and tidy is an ongoing challenge. Don’t get me started about the laundry. So what do I do, I yell. I fret. I argue. Ugh. I let my desire for something beautiful to turn into something ugly. I sin.
Finding the balance between a healthy concern for tidiness and a compulsion that drives every one around me crazy is a private demon I face and fight daily. During Lent I can make gains in overcoming some of my sinfulness.
1. I can go to Confession more frequently. I will be given Absolution (which frees me from the sins I have committed). I will receive sanctifying grace to have God’s grace in my soul and actual grace which helps me to make better choices.
2. I can keep a journal of my bad behavior and what precipitated it. This may help me to recognize patterns of behavior so that I can try to overcome some of them.
3. I can stop and pause before I do something. The old ‘count to ten’ advice may keep me from losing my temper or help me see how ridiculous my desire for a pretty house is making me act.
Lent is the perfect time to evaluate my own sinfulness and practice overcoming it. What good is a spotless house if I have hurt the people in my home in my quest to obtain it? As catechists, we can encourage our students to look at their own lives and identify the stumbling blocks they face on the road to holiness. Perhaps for teens it may be the desire to look attractive that leads to sin or wanting to go along with their peers which encourages disobedience to their parents. When we share our own struggles with sinful behavior and how attractive it can appear (even to us), we can guide our students to a clearer understanding in discerning temptation. Many blessings.