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Lent Reflection day 28

Day 28

Chapter twenty eight of Unseen Warfare tells us what to do when we are wounded in battle. This is a good way to put it – not to simply tell us what to do when we sin, but what to do when we’re wounded in battle. This reminds us that there is indeed a great unseen drama occurring every moment of our lives, it is only up to us to recognize the struggle and participate in it. In this way we have a much better chance of freeing ourselves from slavery to sin.

One of my favorite cartoons is Calvin and Hobbes, about a little boy who acts as if his stuffed tiger is alive and the madcap adventures they enjoy. When Calvin is alone, Hobbes walks and talks to him, competes with him in games and so on. But when anyone else is around, Hobbes is just a slumped-over stuffed animal. Every adventure they have is dramatic, life-and-death, in fact bigger than life. Now I’m not saying that Christians should not act like children who anthropomorphize their stuffed animals, but we should act like we are in a continue struggle of life-and-death proportions. The demons want to destroy us on one side, and God and His armies are on the other side to help us fight them.

But what do we do when we fail? When the tricks of the demons wound us? The first thing to do is to admit that we’ve sinned. To quote from the book: With this feeling and consciousness of yourself you must not, however, admit the self-indulgent and heedless thought that since you are what you are, you have as it were a right to behave wrongly. No, in spite of the fact that you are weak and faulty, you are accounted guilty for all the wrong things you do. For since you possess a will, all that comes forth from you is subject to it, and so everything good is counted in your favor and everything bad to your detriment. Therefore, conscious of your general wickedness, admit yourself guilty also in the particular wickedness into which you have fallen at the present moment. Judge and condemn yourself, and only yourself; do not look around, seeking on whom you could put the blame. Neither the people around you nor the circumstances are guilty of your sin. Your bad will alone is to blame. So blame yourself.

It is a common pit for us to fall into, that when we sin, we look for the reason. Sometimes I find myself arguing with parents who always look for a reason for the things their children do wrong. More often than not, the reason is that the children don’t want to obey, they want to do what they want to do. It has nothing to do with the school, the environment, health or family problems. It’s attributable to human nature, which is sinful.

And what do we do when we admit our sin? Again, to quote from Unseen Warfare: Having recognized your fault and reproached yourself, make yourself face the inescapable justice of God and hasten to warm up your feelings of repentance, that is, contrition and remorse, not because of your own degradation through sin, but because by your sin you have offended God, Who has shown you yourself so much mercy in calling you to repentance, in remitting your old sins, in letting you participate in the grace of the Mysteries, in guiding and protecting your progress on the right path. The deeper the contrition, the better. But however deep the contrition, never admit a shadow of doubt about forgiveness. Forgiveness is already fully prepared and the record of all sins has been torn up on the Cross. Repentance and contrition alone are expected of every man, before he too can participate in the power of the redemption of the sins of the world through the Crucifixion. Trusting in this, prostrate yourself in body and soul and cry: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness’ (Ps. 51:1) and do not cease to cry thus, until you feel yourself together guilty and forgiven, so that guilt and forgiveness merge into one feeling.

What a beautiful day, brothers and sisters, to gather in the Church and seek healing for all the wounds we have suffered this week. Thanks to God for His goodness and mercy!

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