In continuing the subject of the sacrament of reconciliation and purification from sin, there are some interesting concepts to help us understand our tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. Ancient spiritual writers have delineated some components of our human psyche that, once identified, can assist in uncovering root causes for certain types of behavior. These components, known as temperaments, are inclinations and reactions that each person has with regard to a given stimulus. For example: When we are assigned a huge task; or have a large block of free time; or find ourselves at a party — how do we react to these situations?
“If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give me life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” 1 Jn 5: 16,17
This passage teaches us about mortal and venial sins. St. John the Apostle instructs us that praying for those whose sins are mortal has no affect. This is because mortal sin can only be removed by sacramental confession. This begs the question: What is a mortal sin that I may avoid it?
The first step in making a good confession is an examination of conscience that walks us through the Ten Commandments or other listings of sins. The examination of conscience asks penetrating questions that helps us to know ourselves and recognize our faults. If we do not examine our conscience, we may fail to realize our sins and weaknesses.
How do we root out sin if holiness persists in rising again after falling? The sacrament of reconciliation is a very important gift given to us by Jesus Christ. In past issues we focused on the importance of the Eucharist in our spiritual growth. Now it is necessary to emphasize the role of the sacrament of reconciliation.
Let’s begin the subject of the sacrament of reconciliation and purification from sin by reviewing the journey to holiness. If we wish to become holy, we must overcome our sinful tendencies and seek union with God the Father through Christ his Son, in the person and power of the Holy Spirit. This union is the essence of the term, “interior life.”
In conclusion of the phases of discernment, we recall that discernment is the art of the spiritual life in which we understand how God communicates himself to us. Through discernment we avoid deception and learn to recognize truth. Discernment is the art of speaking with God rather than with temptation. The main character in this journey is the Holy Spirit. We use our intelligence in the most complete way only when our intellect is enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
In the last issue we talked about developing a “spiritual sense.” A person can refine this sense with experience by resolutely and faithfully following the path of Jesus Christ. If everything ended here, the evil one would never be able to conquer the person.
The second phase of discernment is to live constantly in God. The special ability that enables us to easily recognize and respond to the divine movements of God is the development within our interior of a spiritual sense. This spiritual sense is almost nonexistent at the beginning of our life; however, a person can refine this sense with experience by resolutely and faithfully following the path of Jesus Christ. This grace-filled gift allows us to recognize the unmistakable voice of Jesus. It is a loving instinct that permits us to distinguish the voice of the Spouse more easily in concert with all the sounds that present themselves to our hearing.
In the past issues we have looked at the first of two phases of discernment: to recognize God as the center of my life.
What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God? What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will?
The action of the Holy Spirit on the person oriented toward God:
The Spirit of God always attempts to maintain and keep reason and feeling oriented toward God. The Holy Spirit will try to make the believer’s level of adherence to God not only ideal and profound, but also detached from feelings of the heart. When a person is seriously oriented toward God, the Holy Spirit nourishes his feelings with spiritual consolations.