Let me ask you a question you’ve probably never been asked before. How much do you hate sin?
Seriously. Do you hate it like a piece of popcorn stuck between your teeth? Or do you hate it like you just stepped in fresh dog dookie and tramped it all over your new white carpet?
In other words, do you hate sin enough?
Certainly there are degrees of sin. We know that mortal and venial sin are different animals. Scripture (see 1 Jn 5:16-18) and the Catechism make it clear that one kills the life of grace in the soul – spiritual suicide – and the other wounds it. (Of course, repeated wounding eventually leads to death. Remember the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? “It’s just a flesh wound.”)
Regardless, we have to remember that there’s no such thing as a “small” sin. All of it is a terrible offense against our perfectly holy God.
To achieve holiness in and through him; become worthy of the family of God, we have to hate sin with a passion – the passion of Christ. Of course, this doesn’t mean hating sinners (a title which covers all of us), but calling ourselves and others to a higher, holier standard of life.
“I’m giving up all tv, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter…Nothing edible will enter my body for forty days. And I’m going to read all 150 Psalms daily while wearing a hair shirt that would bring Bigfoot to tears.”
Sound familiar? We’re all big talkers at the beginning of Lent, aren’t we? We’re going to get really holy, get really in touch with our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We’re strong enough! Who needs food! (It’s a scientific fact that most rash Lenten resolutions are made on a full stomach.)
So how’s it going? Uh-huh…thought so.
If you’ve struggled to keep up with your lenten resolutions just take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to sacrifice. It’s meant to be hard. And for those of us who bit off more than we could chew, it can be discouraging because we weren’t able to perfectly keep our promises. We failed!
But let’s keep a couple things in mind.
First of all, be realistic. If you’re trying to do too much, take a step back and get real. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook, because the whole point is to be sacrificial and it’s never easy. But at the same time, it would do us good to recall the famous line from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in Magnum Force: “Man’s got to know his limitations…”
Second, the Lord is merciful. He’s not mad at you for failing. He might be chuckling at your inability to put down the Oreo and walk away, but he’s not mad. He’s the most merciful person in the world!
Remember, Lenten sacrifice isn’t for him. It’s for us. It’s meant to help us take our eyes off of this world and focus on the next. It’s meant to help us love Christ more, not get down on ourselves.
So if you’ve fallen a few times already, stand up and brush the Little Debbie crumbs off your pants. Then pick up your Lenten cross and start again…but maybe with one made from a little lighter wood.