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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana









It is easy to commit sin. But it is even easier to have them forgiven. What is difficult is finding out what are our sins. 

God knows human nature. So when we sin, he expects that and is merciful towards us. He is not displeased when we sin. What enrages Him is when we remain in our sin. 

When we first sin, God looks down on us with great mercy. But when we remain in our sin, His look of mercy turns into a look of justice. He becomes less merciful and more just. And if God looks at us with justice, "who can escape the wrath of the Lord?"

So when we sin, we must not remain in our sin. We must repent as soon as possible. Because sin is like a tree; it is young, it is easy to pull it out. But when it has grown into a tree it becomes more difficult, if not impossible, to pull it out. Besides, God becomes less merciful to us for staying on in our sins, thus giving us less help.

The main reason why Christians are slow in repentance is because of a wrong presumption of God's mercy. They see God as merciful, which is true, but fail to see that He is also just. And it is a fact that God is only merciful to whose who fear His justice. To those who are unaware of His justice, He shows little mercy. "If I must deserve God's mercy, I must dread His justice."

So we must reason thus: I know my sins. I know if I die right now, I have no chance of going to heaven if faced with the just judgment of God. So I will appeal to His mercy instead. Such a soul will receive mercy. But he must know his sins, acknowledge his sins and know for certain that, before the justice of God, he is lost. Christians often approach the mercy of God without fearing or even thinking of His justice. Such are not deserving of mercy.

It is easy to commit sin and easier to be forgiven. What is difficult and even impossible for many is knowing and acknowledging their sins. If you do not know your sins, how can you repent for them? Lack of knowledge of your sins is the first obstacle to repentance. No knowledge, no repentance. 

It is for this that Christ said that when we die we will be surprised; because those we expect to see in heaven will not be there and those we expected to be in hell will be in heaven. Because many Christians do not know what are sinful in the eyes of God and what sins they have committed. For how many know or would agree that doing one's own will is a sin? Yet it is for doing their will that Adam and Eve fell, that Moses was rebuked and Peter was threatened. 

St. Caesarius of Arles







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