I’m never more keenly aware of the physical effects of sin in my life than right after confession. I walk out of the Church with a great sense of relief, perhaps even a bit lighter. Truly I feel freed from that which was holding me back. This feeling, replicated each time I go to confession, leads me to wonder, how much does sin really drag me down?
We know that sin is an offense against charity, against love. We know that sin affects all of us and that it impairs our judgement and our ability to act freely. We bind ourselves to evil instead of running free with love. That’s the 10,000 foot view. On the day to day level, as we make our decisions, sin begets more sin. We wander deeper into the ocean before we turn back to the lighthouse of mercy and make it to solid ground.
When we say that sin affects all of us, those whom are most affected are our family. Sin turns our attention and priorities selfishly inward. When I sin, I turn some of my attention away from my family. Instead of selflessly giving all of myself and expecting nothing in return, I selfishly put myself at the head of the line. This creates an increasing amount of discord in the household and we get out of sync as our priorities no longer align. Naturally, this happens by degrees, but with enough time spent away from God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the greater the divide grows.
It’s easy to miss the subtle signs as sin takes a greater hold in our lives. I think that part of the overall problem is that we tend to tolerate some lower level sin. Instead of working to root out all sin, we focus on the big stuff and let the little stuff slide. A lie or two, some gossip here and there, nothing too serious. Yet, it is serious. It’s the stuff that drags us down and pulls us out to sea. It’s like the old Catholic fallacy of, “I’m aiming for purgatory.” If you aim for purgatory, you might miss and end up no place that you want to be. If instead we aim for Heaven, we just might make it.
Part of sin’s trap is despair. If you truly believe that you can’t live the life of a saint, then you’ll lower your expectations, allow those gateway sins to continue, and be impaired by sin’s presence in your life. Instead of giving into despair, our best daily course is a strong regimen of prayer. Prayer that permeates our day is like an antibiotic, slowly but surely eradicating all sin in our lives. When we make no provision for sin, we can live the lives we were meant to live: lives of true freedom.
Sin has a very real effect on our daily lives, our decision making, and our overall mood. The best way to live in true love and pure joy is to go to Confession regularly and establish a routine of prayer throughout your day. You, and your family, will love living with a truly free you.