The Near Occasion of Sin

THERE is a simple but beautiful prayer called "The Act of Contrition" prayed by the penitent at the end of Confession:
O my God, I am sorry with all my heart for having sinned against You. I detest all of my sins because of Your just punishment, but most of all because they offend You my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

The "near occasion of sin." Those four words can save you.

THE FALL The near occasion of sin is the Fence which divides us between the Land of Life and the Desert of Death. And this is no literary exaggeration. As Paul writes,
For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they often walked atop this fence without even knowing it. Such was their innocence, unawakened by evil. But the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil grew alongside this fence. Tempted by the Serpent, Adam and Eve ate of the tree, and suddenly lost their balance, falling headlong into the Desert of Death. From that time forward, the equilibrium within the human heart was wounded. Mankind could no longer walk on top of this fence without losing his balance and falling into sin. The word for this wound is concupiscence: the inclination toward evil. The Desert of Death became the Desert of Distraction, and soon humans would not only fall into it by weakness, but many would choose to jump in.

The ancient Serpent knows our condition of weak trust. Avoid idle. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna. I pray the rosary. These are all ways in which we can avoid the near occasion of sin. He usually does this by not tempting us right away. erases original sin and turns a man back towards God. As Jesus said. and avoid drawing them out. For most often. I am reading my bible now. call the cable company and cut it off. we must leave the Confessional. Avoid gossip. persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. guilt-ridden. Anticipate inflammatory words from antagonists. they are pulled in as the gravity of temptation is too strong to resist. If you have serious problems with pornography or online gambling etc.. we really don’t trust God’s promise that what he has for us is infinitely better. get rid of it. —Catechism of the Catholic Church. we leave the sure paths of God’s Will in the Land of the Living. Within no time. and dry in spirit on the burning sands of the Desert of Death. then politely get out of that group. When God warned Adam and Eve about the forbidden tree in the Garden. sincerely repent… but then do nothing to rectify the lifestyle or situations which got us into trouble in the first place. and risqué conversation. Shop with a list. "I have confessed this sin. We go to Confession. THE FACTS We must uproot those things which bring us into the near occasion of sin. (Mark 9:47) If you have a group of friends who lead you into sinful activities. If you can’t leave it off. leave it off. Walk a different route to work to avoid lustful images. weakened and inclined to evil. Do not be led astray: "Bad company corrupts good morals. Despite our resolutions. Reduce your credit card limit. it is pulled into the planet’s gravity and ultimately destroyed as it burns up in the atmosphere. I can handle this!" But then we become mesmerized by the glamor of sin. if we are to win the "spiritual battle"." (1 Cor 15:33) Avoid shopping for groceries when you are hungry. Same with the computer. and fall headfirst into the very place we swore we never would go again. get rid of the computer. silly. but the consequences for nature. able to bridle the whole body also. Or if that is no solution. and will do his best to convince us to leave these things as they are. and begin to climb the Fence of Temptation. …if your eye causes you to sin. (James 3:2) Order and discipline your day as much as possible to avoid compulsiveness. including that in entertainment magazines and radio and television talk shows. rather than compulsively. And we must. So too. Get your rest and proper nutrition. lest you die." (Genesis 3:3) And so.THE FENCE Baptism. or cut up the card altogether. whether we admit it or not. Don’t keep alcohol in your house if you can’t control drinking. . lose our step through the wound of weakness. but by putting themselves near beguiling situations. We find ourselves broken. if watching TV draws you into sin. creating the false illusion that we are stronger than we really are. We say. by imparting the life of Christ’s grace. many people have no intention of sinning. move your computer to a visible place. not only did he say to not eat of it but. go home and smash our idols lest we "even touch" them. we still have affections toward our sinful inclinations. "You shall not… even touch it. pluck it out. Speak only when necessary—listen more. 405 If a meteor comes too close to the earth. For example. If any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man. Yes.

Follow the saints. The Desert of Death and Distraction pales in comparison. what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9) Lastly. nor the heart of man conceived. Let the illusion be shattered. The fire of love. and those who find it are few. Imitate Christ. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life. And you: keep at a distance. letting Him infuse your soul with all the graces you need in order to persevere. shaded groves. But these paths are the narrow roads of faith. If you approach too near. Let a divine fire burn within your heart. The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain. draw near to Him in prayer. Let the truth set you free: sin is a lie. and those who enter by it are many. much the way the sun outshines a lightbulb. a rugged landscape of raw beauty with hidden streams. Remember that the devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: the will. for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. and breathtaking vistas which eventually lead to the Summit of Union with God. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. Enter by the narrow gate. But what we are leaving behind is nothing compared to what God has in store for those who take these paths of His Will. remember that you cannot win this spiritual battle without God. because without me you can do nothing.THE NARROW ROAD But perhaps the most powerful way to avoid sin is this: to follow the Will of God. And so. Be holy as the Lord is holy! We must see ourselves as "strangers and sojourners"… this world is not our home. There are no secret or hidden doors. Every day. What no eye has seen. you must pray from the heart. As our Lord said. you let yourself be caught. Pio of Pietrelcina Feel like a failure? Read A Miracle of Mercy. we pray with all our heart the words in The Act of Contrition: "with the help of Your grace". moment by moment. God’s Will consists of pathways running through the Land of Life. nor ear heard. —St. God cannot be outdone in generosity! He has joys beyond expression awaiting us which even now we can experience through faith. beyond the length of the chain he cannot seize anyone. spending time with God. . (John 15:5) Indeed. (Matt 7:13) Can you see how radical Christ is calling you to be? Yes! Come out of the world.

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