Preparation: Take a few minutes and begin with the typical prayers found here.
Scripture: 1 Jn 1:8-2:6
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.
How can we understand these things that St. John urges for us? If we go to many different churches, they may have a specific understanding, but for us as Eastern Catholic Christians, we have been given the voice of the very high God through His Church. Let’s first turn to the Catechism to understand sin.
In Passage 757 of the Ukrainian Catechism we are given the light of understanding that Sin is “a distortion of the divine image in the human person.” It goes on to lay out that we are in need of healing and that Christ is the divine physician to our soul. Furthermore, in passage 756 it states that two effects take place from sin: Alienation from neighbor and more importantly separation from God. Furthermore, because of the weakening of the participation in authentic human freedom caused by sin, man has gained for himself a tendency towards sin that must be overcome and healed effectively.
In order to do this, we must find ourselves at the mercy of Christ Jesus and the picking up of the cross of Christ. St. Symeon the New Theologian provides us with effective teaching on the subject. The ultimate goal of our human life is to overcome the logismoi, the tempting thoughts which lead us to sin against God. In order to do this, we must attend the Mystery of Repentance avidly and with great joy. It is here that we will find the medicine to our sin, just as we go to the doctor, the divine physician meets us in the confessional to become for us the healer of our souls. The blessed theologian tells us that we must have obedience to a spiritual father, or abbot, that we may learn from and receive the healing of the physician through the confessional. Many of us have a primary care physician in our secular lives, but do you have a primary confessing priest in your daily life? St. John urges us to understand that we have this tendency towards sin, but that should we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, he will heal our souls. This is important to understand in the spiritual life, for if we hope to be saved and healed of our iniquities, we must constantly participate within the medicine of Christ that we call the sacraments.
Challenge: For many of us it is difficult to find other Eastern priests, but as Catholics we can go to any priest. Find a priest that you life and have a good relationship with. Set up an appointment and ask him to help you overcome the tempting thoughts that lead you to sin.