Thursday, January 4, 2007


1. In that we prefer our own wayward whims to the law of God, sin is an abuse of liberty. It is a revolt against right reason, the dictates of which we refuse to obey. It is an offence against our Creator and Redeemer, whose commandments we despise and whose redeeming grace we reject by our actions. It is, moreover, an act of supreme folly, for it exstinguishes not only the supernatural splendour of grace, but also the natural light of reason. Through sin man is brutalised, and experiences in himself as his first punishment the confusion of his whole being.

In practice, the sinner denies God who has created and redeemed him. He upsets the natural order of things and is violently seperated from the source of all truth, beauty and goodness. As a result he experiences in himself the hell which he has constructed with his own hands --- a hell of emptiness, disgust and remorse. Unless the helping hand of God reaches out to rescue him from the abyss, all this is simply a bitter foretaste of eternal despair. God, as St. Augustine has written, has ordained from all eternity that every dissolute soul will be its own punishment. For the sinner hell begins on this earth. There can be no peace for the wicked.

When we realise the gravity, stupidity and dire consequences of sin, it seems impossible that a rational being, enlightened and enriched by divine grace, should continue to sin. Nevertheless sad experience teaches us that the lives of individuals, families and human society in general are often distorted by this evil, which is the root of all other evils.

2. In order to understand more clearly the gravity of sin, it is helpful at this stage to consider three things: ---

(a) The world with all its evils --- sorrows, diseases, wars, plagues and death. All these things do not come directly from the will of God, Who is the highest good, but happen with His permission. They are the effect of original sin and of the continuing transgressions of men.

(b) Hell, which is the handiwork of sin. God, infinitely good but also infinitely just, has ordained this terrible and everlasting punishment for the rebellious sinner.

(c) The Crucifix. To save us from sin the God-Man has suffered the cruellest of torments and death, but men go on offending Him with unbelievable ingratitude.

3. Now let us turn the spotlight on ourselves and think of our past lives. So many sins and abuses of God's grace! Such coldness and ingratitude! where has all this brought us? Spiritually, sin has deprived us of God and of the supernatural life which His grace gives us. Intellectually, it is an absurdity, a dishonour and a degradation. Physically, it is an inversion of the right order and often means total ruin. Let us humbly repent, therefore, and make resolutions so firm that we shall be read to face any sacrifice, even death, in order to put them into practice.

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