Sunday, January 27, 2013

Aquinas And Sinful Habit

These readings bring to mind the reality that there are very few if any who have not sinned nor who will never sin again except the dead.  Today's readings do bring to mind serious consideration of the reality of sin in our lives.  And without any stress intended, this reflection will look at a reality that I sense most priests encounter in the confessions of penitents.  On this memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, allow me to attempt a presentation about the reality of sin in individuals' lives.

There are moments in each day for everyone when we find ourselves walking away from goodness, love, honesty, hard work, moral and ethical uprightness.  As mature adults, why do we opt for walking with sin at least on certain occasions?  In answering that question, I have turned to Aquinas' "Willful Malice and Sin."

We should ask ourselves about our sins?  And what sins?  A honest penitent said, "Father, it has been a year since my last confession.  My only sins are that I have missed several Sunday Masses."  And in all honesty I have replied with a remark such as "Do you know you might be a candidate for almost immediate canonization?"

Because of our Original Sin all of us have a tendency toward sin.  However, we have been or should have been taught at some time about "habitual sin" and  what we might call its opposite.  A good conscience should be able to ask about any sinful action whether it is a sin derived either from a habit that has been formed or from resolute malice.

A sinner who rejoices in sinfulness, in particular actions contrary to the Ten Commandments and other Commandments of the Church is acting with resolute malice.  Those who develop a sinful habit such as using foul language do not act sinfully "purposefully and resolutely."  Therefore, it is our obligation to examine our sinfulness so as to understand fully the seriousness of our actions, our failings before the eyes of God.

The man we memorialize today does offer us some matter for consideration ... not for fear and trepidation about our sinfulness.  Rather he offers for our consideration a distinction to help us in our efforts to live our lives as God has called us to live them.