The Disorder of Sin — Personal Patterns
Last week we reviewed the record of our sins in the light of God’s love for us. This week we give ourselves the time to probe the patterns of our sinfulness that we might even more deeply understand God’s love and desires for us.
We’ve all seen those children’s puzzles that begin with a page full of dots. As we draw lines to connect the dots, an image appears that we couldn’t see before. That’s what this week is about.
We want to connect the dots and see the patterns emerge, so as to understand just how sin happens in us. What motivations come into play? What forces are in tension in my heart? Can I identify underlying inclinations that habitually and instinctively work against God’s desires in me? Can I put names on my most basic unfreedoms? My most basic fears?
Sin, and the unfreedom that supports it, are complex realities. Nobody really gets up in the morning and says, “I think I’m going to be unloving today. I’ve decided to be selfish, in fact, just plain absorbed in myself today. Yes, whenever given the choice, I come first. I’m going to give in to lust and greed today, and I’m going to block out the cry of the poor; I just won’t pay attention to my role in the rest of the world.” We all know that it is much more subtle than that. We always sin by choosing something that we think is good, that we think is right for us, that we think we need. Our desire here is to uncover the way we approach sin.
Throughout this week, let’s increase the intensity of our desire for God’s help. Just as when I am approaching a critical surgery and ask everyone I know to pray for me, I might turn to loved ones who have died to ask them to intercede with the Lord for me, so that I might be given an instinctive insight into my sinfulness. I can feel them eager for my freedom. I might spend time with Mary, the mother of our Lord, and ask her to intercede on my behalf. I can surely feel that she is there for me. Then I can turn to Jesus directly, pouring out my gratitude for the graces already received in this retreat and begging him to ask God, the Father and our Creator, to give me the grace to see the sinful patterns in my life. Finally, I turn to the God who made me and beg that I might embrace the freedom being offered me.The more deeply we comprehend the mystery of our sin, the more intensely we will feel that the mercy and love of the death and resurrection of Jesus is for me.
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