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March 10th, 2011

The Secret To Avoid Sin

The secret to avoid sin

Many of us desire to be holy, but we fall in sin; There is a solution.

The disciple approached the Master with grief and said, ‘I fell again… I committed the same sin. The devil is after me… I can’t succeed.’ Master smiled and gently asked, ‘were you able to keep up all the other decisions, except that sin… I mean… daily prayer, Bible reading, spiritual reading…etc.’ Disciple was in a dilemma. He said, ‘No master, after this sin, I was fed up and I stopped all the others.’

‘No my child’, said the Master, ‘it is the other way round. Since you gradually stopped all the other, you fell into that particular sin again.’

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Many of us confess every now and then, the same sins committed in our life. We give many reasons for it; devils force, our weakness in that area, uncontrollable temptations, the dual law within… etc. Many of us aspire to be holy and loving to others, but we do not reach up to the standard that is in our mind. Is there a solution for it?

Put aside our sins, are we able to put into action all the decisions we make in our life? Most say no. Then, the problem is our inability to bring into reality what we think we should. So, the cure for our problem lies in maintaining this ability. We should be more capable to incarnate our good decisions. Once we acquire this ability in our life, it is easy to avoid sin.

Spiritual fathers would suggest mortifications in this training. If we take a decision to avoid a delicious food, we should do it. A decision not to watch television for some day must be accomplished. Decision to avoid a look, small favor, kind help… everything must be done as we take the decision. They are virtues, yet again, they are also training our mind to keep up the decisions we take. Though it is grace, firm decision too has something to do with holiness of life.

Unless and until we train ourselves in the field of virtues, we cannot avoid sin. There is some form of grace called ‘sanctifying grace’ in our life. Its meaning is strictly connected with holiness in day to day life. Spiritually, it makes one perfect in front of God. Openness to sanctifying grace will make us capable of doing every possible virtue in our life, at each and every moment.

Unless and until we do all the possible good works and virtuous acts in our life, we are under the cloud of sin. Sanctifying grace increases when one person takes up mortifications one after another. It will help us not only to avoid sin but also to be strong in the decisions we take in our life. Those who grow in this grace will fulfill many good endeavors in life.

– – – written by Jinto Mathew

February 2nd, 2011

The Joy of Forgiveness

The joy of forgiveness

People spend lot of money to escape from the evil fruits of Sin; Why do they not go for a Confession?

At the age of nine I made my first confession, just a couple of days prior to my first Holy Communion. Thereafter my mother instructed me to go for confession once a month. I followed it to the letter. This went on just like a routine! I did not experience any special attraction. But since my mother was very pious and she went for confession regularly I too did so.

Something happened during a charismatic retreat: the preacher spoke on sin and the relevance of confession in the life of a Christian. This talk really touched the core of my heart! He elucidated his points with certain examples. In European countries and in the States when Christians visit psychiatrists and psychologists they insist that their clients go for confession prior to their therapeutic reviews! It was quite an amazing thing for me that these people, at least some of them being non-Catholics, recommend their clients to go for confession!

A good number of people write about their very deepest thoughts and feelings in diaries or letters but do not reveal the personal side of themselves even to the close friends they see every day. A growing number of Americans pay millions of dollars to therapists and self-help groups so that they can share secrets. But we Christians are blessed; we have priests to hear our confession, without paying a single penny! But very often we lose this channel of divine grace. From this example taken from the secular and scientific world I understood the value of this Sacrament of great blessings in a better way.

In everybody’s life there is an urge to disclose one’s own thoughts and feelings to some one whom they can trust. Hiding our thoughts and feelings can be unhealthy. Inhibition of one’s thoughts and feelings is a physical work requiring a lot of physical energy. Inhibition affects short-term biological changes and long-term health. It negatively influences thinking abilities.

The opposite pole of active inhibition is confrontation. In confrontation the individual is able to actively think and talk about significant experiences as well as acknowledge one’s emotions. Confrontation reduces the effects of inhibition. It forces a rethinking of events. In short we can affirm that confessing one’s transgressions and sins are contributive to a person’s spiritual, psychological and even physical life.

During that retreat the preacher advised us to write down our sins on a piece of paper as we prepare for confession which will stand us in good stead to go for a fruitful confession. Usually if I forget to mention any of the sins I feel bad so this helps me avoid such problems. Thereafter even today I go with a piece of paper. He also instructed us: “pray at least one rosary for the priest who hears our confession at least one day before the confession. This will help him to be another Christ to you during your confession”. Henceforth, I always experience so much of relief, peace, inner freedom, consolation, rebuilding of broken relationships, spiritual renewal and empowerment from each confession. Whereas after committing sin we lose our peace, freedom, break our relationship with God and fellow human beings. Eventually we become sickly.

Once, somebody asked a holy man: “are you a sinner today?” He replied: “I was a sinner who used to run after sin; today also I am a sinner who runs away from sin”. Once forgiveness is granted, the forgiven person has to pray for freeing himself from the memories of the past sinful experience. Above all, he has to forgive himself. As it was revealed to Peter, “what God has made clean, you must not call profane” (Acts. 10:15).

Each confession provides us ample opportunity to run away from sin. In his famous book, Witness to Hope, late Pope John Paul II writes: “when a man goes down on his knees in the confessional because he has sinned, at that very moment he adds to his own dignity as a man. No matter how heavily his sins weigh on his conscience, no matter how seriously they have diminished his dignity, the very act of turning again to God is a manifestation of the special dignity of man, his spiritual grandeur…the grandeur of the personal meeting between man and God in the inner truth of conscience”.

The Seal of confession is still a mystery in the Church. There are priests who became insane; there are priests who left the priesthood; there are priests who may fall into sin but so far it is not reported that any of them broke confessional secrecy! The Church and the Code of Canon Law take strong measures against those who divulge the secrecy of the confession as well as those who violate the holiness of this sacrament. By the very fact of such violation that priest is excommunicated!

Hence this Sacrament is God’s miraculous gift to Christians and to the Church! Let us enjoy the abundant gifts of divine graces from this celestial fountain in a worthy manner. “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed….My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”(James 5:16&19).

Read about Confession Tips

– – – written by Bro.Vineesh Joseph

October 17th, 2010

How To Resist Temptation

How To Resist Temptations

Short Story

One of the disciples approached the Master with a heavy heart. When enquired of his troubled face he said, “Master, I am fed up with temptations. At each moment and every place I am tempted. I fear that I will have to leave this life of solitude and prayer due to the irresistible temptations that suppress the joy of my life.”

The Master consoled him saying, “Don’t worry my child. There is a solution for your problem. Let’s talk about this after two weeks. Till then I will be praying specially for you.”
Once the disciple left the place, the Master called the gardener as well as the cook of the Ashram and gave them some directions. The disciple who came with the problem of temptations must be given some responsibilities continually, without fail – it was the advice.

After two weeks the Master approached the disciple concerned and asked him, “What about the temptations now?” With much joy, the disciple answered, “Now there are no temptations as I am always engaged in some responsibilities. Since I am too tired of work, as soon as I go to bed, I sleep. Now there is no room for temptations.”

Reflection

Laziness paves way for temptations. An easy-going way of living, forgetting the responsibilities and goals of life will surely open the door for the tempter. Sign of laziness is not merely an idle rest. Uncreative actions are also signs of laziness. For example, wasting hours uselessly in front of the television and computer as well as spending a lot of time on mobile phone are also indications of laziness.

Meditating over the responsibilities of life and cherishing real and constructive dreams about the future will make us more and more active. Healthy thoughts about death too will prompt us not to waste time. For, we do not know whether we have an opportunity tomorrow. When God is within us, we will have energy. Lack of the valuable presence of God will deteriorate our mind and make us lazy.

Creative thoughts, conversations and even imagination help us to resist temptations. But this is not possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore let us invoke the help of the Holy Spirit to live each moment with diligence and zeal.

Prayer

Lord, we know that the devil enters into our lives since we are lazy. Make us creative and fruitful sending upon us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of renewed vigor. Let the fire of the Holy Spirit enkindle the coldness of our heart. May the Spirit of the Lord help us to use each moment fruitfully. Then, we know that laziness and temptations will not conquer us. Thus our life will become a life glorifying you. Amen.

– – – written by Benny Punnathara

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