Monday, February 18, 2013

Human Sin Immune System

I thought today that a good concept for dealing with sin is to deal with sin in a way similar to our immune system. For many people, including me, I only deal with sin when I'm face to face with it in the middle of temptation. This would be like living without any regard to health whatsoever and then once you fall ill, doing a few things to feel better.

As an analogy, it would be like only eating junk food and not worrying if it's moldy or otherwise gone bad, not bathing, not exercising, not getting enough sleep, going outside in the cold without proper clothing, never cleaning your bathroom or kitchen, having garbage and insects all around, not practicing any hygiene, not brushing your teeth, etc. But then as you become ill, you attempt in vain to not get sick. By then it's too late and you fall ill.

Very few people would ever live like this. In order to stay healthy, people employ a multi-layered approach. First, they try to maintain their health through exercise and correct eating choices. Next, they are careful about food safety. Thirdly, they maintain correct hygiene by bathing, brushing their teeth, and taking care of themselves in general. They maintain a clean dwelling. If they do fall ill, people will generally spend time taking care of themselves. They may then reevaluate their lifestyle to see if their illness could have been prevented.

This approach makes sense, and it's probably one we should use in our spiritual life. I remember reading a book by Father Gabriel Amorth, the chief exorcist of Rome. He said people will come to him only after all other spiritual avenues, such as psychics, have been exhausted. An exorcism may be then be performed. Usually he said people will get into spiritual trouble after indulging in immoral activities. It doesn't just come out of the blue.

So how can we create a spiritual immune system? There are probably countless ways to do this, so I will just try to list some possibilities:

1) Get up early and go to bed early
I find a lot of sin and temptation can occur late at night. I think there's a reason good vs. evil is often depicted as light vs. darkness. The Bible often mentions nefarious activities that occur in the cover of night. Things in the night are hidden and secret and we feel like we can get away with more.

2) Work hard
They say boredom and not having anything to do can lead to sin. I believe this is true. If we are doing lots of work, we don't have as much time to sin.

3) Associate with good people
Associate with people who do not participate in evil activities. If you feel you are at risk of committing certain sins, avoid people who indulge in these. Make friends with people who have good habits. We are often influenced by those we associate with.

4) Read spiritual literature
Read the Bible, the Catechism, Life of Saints, etc. Not for any particular purpose, but just for knowledge and spiritual edification.

5) Routinize prayer
Prayer can often seem inconvenient. A way around this is to make it a routine part of your life. Pray at the same time every day. Maybe right after supper or before a particular show. Make it an automatic thing so you don't have to fight your laziness every time to do it. This also goes for Mass. You should try to go to Mass the same time every week. If you go to Mass every week, it will eventually get easier and easier.

6) Avoid sin as soon as possible
Ending temptation is always easiest at the beginning. For instance, it's easier not to eat a piece of chocolate cake before you have a piece. Don't say "Oh, I'll just have one bite and that's it." Giving in to temptation a little only makes it easier to go to the whole way. The easiest time to stop temptation is now. In the long run, if you avoid temptation, it will eventually get easier, not worse like popular culture tells us. The more we indulge in a sin, the more we will want to indulge in it.

Those are just a few ways to avoid sin and live a good life. The point is you should not wait until you are struggling in the middle of temptation to do something about the sin you are facing.

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