Several years ago, I listened to some tapes by Fr. Thomas Dubay. He talked about three stages of spiritual growth and the second, the second was getting rid of all venial sins. This threw me for a loop because I had pretty much figured that if I got rid of all sin, I would have it made--not that I thought I would ever make it. It was daunting to me to hear that there is progress to be made even after we are sinless.
Well, I figured that, having such a long way to go, I had better get started. I tried--really I did. I prayed that God would help me not to commit this one particular sin, and I confessed it when I went to Confession, which wasn't all that often, but I didn't see much progress. Not only that, but it seemed that I didn't even have the ability to quit because I would do this thing without even thinking about it. By the time I thought about restraining myself, it was done. It didn't seem that I had any conscious choice.
At some point, though, I decided to get serious. I made some mental step that made a difference. I can't even tell you what I was thinking, but there was a difference. I decided that I was going to go to Confession and confess that sin week after week forever if I had to and I didn't care how embarrassing it was to go in to the same priest, who was a friend, and say the same stupid thing over and over. And I did. And at some point I noticed that I had a choice. Before I opened my mouth and said what I shouldn't have said (It was that kind of sin.) it was as if a little space in time opened up for just a split second, and I could make a choice.
As I said this was years ago, and I would like to be able to tell you that I have been to Confession every week since then or that I always make the right choice when the time arises. But barring a couple of years when I got lax, I have been to Confession at least a couple of times a month and usually more. And though I'm still confessing that sin, I'm not confessing that I do it endlessly, day in and day out, but much less. I can usually even put a pretty small number to it.
I'm not writing this to let you all know how wonderful I am, but to say that when God sees that we are serious, He gets serious with us. He doesn't let us get away with the little excuses that we hid behind before. I would even go so far as to say He nags us to death--or, I guess, life. If I wake up on Saturday and decide to go back to sleep instead of getting up and going to Mass, it's like I can sense Him standing there just looking at me--laughing at me probably--until I get up and get in the car. I know that I can resist that, and that if I do it often enough He will leave me alone for a while. I resisted to that point in the lax period I told you about, but I was never really peaceful.
So, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Lent is the perfect time to get serious. The time when the grace to get serious abounds.
One of the things I plan to do during Lent is write something every day. It might not be much but there should be something. Pray for me that I might be able to be faithful to that.
I see that I wrote a bit about this last year, but just a paragraph, so hopefully you will forgive me for being repetitive.