The effort of personal conversion that the Lord asks of us should be exercised every day of our life, but in certain times and situations - such as Lent - we receive special graces that we should take advantage of. This liturgical season is an extraordinary occasion to refine our fight against sin and to increase our life of grace through the exercise of good works.
To better understand the malice of sin, we must contemplate what Jesus Christ suffered for our brothers and sisters. In the agony of Gethsemane we see him suffer to the point of unspeakable suffering. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us, says St. Paul; he bore all our horrors, even to the point of shedding the sweat of blood. "Jesus, alone and sad, suffered and soaked the earth with his blood.
"Kneeling on the hard ground, persevere in prayer.... He weeps for you... and for me: he is crushed by the weight of the sins of men ". It is a scene that we should remember many times, every day, but especially when temptations arise.
The Lord has called us to holiness, to love with works, and the progress of our interior life depends on the posture we adopt in the face of deliberate venial sin, for venial sins, when we do not struggle to avoid them or when there is insufficient contrition after committing them, produce great damage in the soul, making it insensitive and indifferent to the inspirations and motions of the Holy Spirit. They weaken the life of grace, make the exercise of the virtues more difficult, and dispose to mortal sin.
"Many pious souls," says an author of our day, "are in almost continual infidelity in "little" things; they are impatient, uncharitable in their thoughts, judgments and words, false in their conversation and in their attitudes, slow and lax in their piety, not self-controlled and too frivolous in their language, they treat lightly the good fame of their neighbor. They know their faults and infidelities and accuse them perhaps in confession, but they do not repent of them seriously nor do they employ the means by which they could prevent them. They do not reflect that each of these imperfections is like a leaden weight that drags them down; they do not realize that they are beginning to think in a purely human way and to act only from natural motives, nor that they habitually resist the inspirations of grace and abuse it. The soul thus loses the splendor of its beauty, and God withdraws more and more from it. Little by little the soul loses its points of contact with God: in Him it no longer sees the loving and beloved Father to whom it used to give itself with filial tenderness; something has come between the two". It is the path, already begun, of lukewarmness.
In the determined struggle to banish all sin from our life, we will demonstrate our love for the Lord, our correspondence to grace: "How sorry I am for you as long as you do not feel the pain of your venial sins! -Because, until then, you will not have begun to have a true interior life.
Let us ask Our Lady today to grant us to abhor not only mortal sin, but also deliberate venial sin.