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Venial Sin

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Day 34: Are you willing to fight?

Realistically, St. Francis de Sales says, there will probably be falls along the way, but God can use even these to deepen our humility.

Imperfections and venial sins cannot deprive us of spiritual life; it is lost only by mortal sin. Fortunately for us, in this war we are always victorious provided that we are willing to fight.

Francis, like many of the saints, wants to encourage us on the spiritual journey. This is a journey on which we are all called to embark; and God will give us the grace to make progress on this journey, if only we are willing to persevere, to fight the good fight.

As for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance. (Lk. 8:15)

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Day 33: affection for sin weakens our spirit

To nourish affection for venial sin weakens the powers of our spirit, stands in the way of God's consolations, and opens the door to temptations.  St. Francis de Sales assures us that inadvertent venial sins and faults are "not a matter of any great moment" if as soon as they occur we reject them, and refuse to entertain any affection for them Francis make clear that the process of purification will continue throughout our life, and so "we must not be disturbed at our imperfections, since for us perfection consist in fighting against them."

Hatred for sin is important.  Confidence in the mercy of God is even more important.

May the Lord, who is good, grant pardon to everyone who has resolved to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, though he be not clean as holiness requires. (2 Chron. 30:18b-19)

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Day 32: How to guard one's tongue - St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Living in the close quarters of a community of monks, Bernard is particularly sensitive to how unkindness in speech and attitude can damage relationships and wound souls.

It is not enough, I say, to guard one's tongue from these and similar kinds of nastiness [public insult and abuse, venomous slander in secret]; even slight offenses must be avoided, if anything may be termed slight that is directed against a brother for the purpose of hurting him, since merely to be angry with one's brother makes one liable to the judgment of God.

Bernard also counsels us to be careful how we respond when a wrong has been done to us.

So when an offense is committed against you, a thing hard to avoid at times in communities like ours, do not immediately rush, as a worldly person may do, to retaliate dishonorably against your brother; nor, under the guise of administering correction, should you dare to pierce with sharp and searing words one for whom Christ was pleased to be crucified; nor make grunting, resentful noises at him, nor mutter and murmur complaints, nor adopt a sneering air, nor indulge the loud laugh of contempt, nor knit the brow in menacing anger. Let your passion die within, where it was born; a carrier of death, it must be allowed no exit or it will cause destruction, and then you can say with the Prophet; "I was troubled and I spoke not."

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