Christ's Victory In Us

Source: District of Great Britain

By His death and Resurrection, Christ makes us share in His victory: that of life over death, which is at the same time that of love over sin.

 

Take courage, I have conquered the world! (John 16:33).

At the moment of our baptism, we are immersed in the mystery and the reality of the Resurrection. Eternal life enters our lives, destroying original sin. The virtue of charity, by which we will love God in Heaven, is infused in our souls forever, or so we pray.

Baptism, however, does not completely eliminate certain consequences of humanity's first sin. Our intelligence, will, and sensitive faculties struggle to seek their true good. They are still disoriented because no longer unified by their once complete subjection to God. Our intelligence struggles in its search for the truth, our will slides too willingly into self-love, and we are lethargic in our readiness to combat sin.

The question then arises: to what extent is Christ's Resurrection really effective to us and in us? It often happens that our souls are overtaken by a certain weariness in their journey to God: the victory of the good in our lives is tentative at best despite our repeated efforts. The mystery, reality and victory of Christ’s Resurrection do not seem to be sufficiently fulfilled in us.

The first response consists in understanding that one day this victory will be full and complete in us. Every person who dies in friendship with God (in the state of grace) experiences the definitive victory of Christ completed in him at the moment of his entry into Heaven. All will be good, pure and true. There will be no more temptation or sin. "We will be like unto Him because we will see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). St. John’s words should nourish our commitment and resolve by increasing our hope and inner strength.

Until this definitive victory is achieved, we should bear in mind the following points, to help understand how the fruits of Christ’s Resurrection are at work in the secrecy of our souls.

When we go to confession, we sometimes feel uneasy in the knowledge that we will soon need to return to confess the same faults all over again. Does this not seem to indicate that grace is ineffective in us and that our contrition is false? It does not. The contrition necessary for the sacrament of Penance consists in the desire not to sin again. If we can honestly say that we do not wish to sin again while knowing full well that we will, there is no hypocrisy, but rather humble discernment as to what and how we are. We do not wish to sin, but we know that our weakness will get the better of us again and again. Our Lord anticipated this state of affairs, which is why he gave us a sacrament that may be repeated as often as needed. He asks us only one question: do you wish to sin again? If we can honestly say “no”, then we may go in peace, as the priest bids us at the end of our confession.

What about the question of sinful habits? Repeated actions embed themselves in us and shape the will whether for good (virtue) or for evil (vice). A bad habit is difficult to suppress in a single confession: the will first takes hold of itself and inclines itself to good, that is, the sacrament of confession, and then slackens and sin returns. We must remember that, in the case of sinful habits, true repentance consists not in overcoming all subsequent temptations, but in overcoming some of them. By so doing, we gradually weaken and break the habit of sin, slowly allowing personal resolve aided by divine grace to gain a bet- ter grip and possession of our soul.

In some cases, the firm resolution not to sin again requires that we take positive action to remove ourselves from persons, places or activities that lead us invariably into sin. Free, unsupervised and untempered access to the internet comes immediately to mind. Removing an occasion of sin may cost us much, but it remains necessary if we wish our Lord to see that we are truly contrite for our sins.

Whatever our state and efforts at spiritual perfection, we should be aware that we will always have matter for confession. Even the saints were guilty of faults. The book of Proverbs tells us that the just sin seven times a day. (Proverbs 24:16).

We should note that just as the avoidance of adultery is not the ultimate goal of marriage, the fight against sin is not the ultimate goal of the Christian life! Fighting for the absence of something is a dismal prospect. On the contrary, the healthiest and most successful way of defeating sin is to desire and to strive for an ever-greater increase in divine charity. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus says that the radiant presence of grace, or charity, in a soul erases venial sin: "To live in Love is to banish all fear / All memory of past faults / Of my sins I see no imprint / In an instant Love has burnt away all..." (Poem No. 17).

The presence of divine grace produces a reflection of God in the souls. As one man said when he described his meeting with the Curé of Ars: "I saw God in a man".

Despite fatigue, imperfections, trials and small faults, we must never forget that the divine light of grace is active within our souls, slowly burning away the dross and shaping us into reflections of our resurrected Lord. We must have a strong faith in the power of charity. Although temptation may often defeat us, each return to our Lord in the sacrament of confession is a magnificent victory that brings us closer to the final victory won by Christ on Easter morning. He first shared the fruits of His victory with us on our baptismal day, and they will be ours for all eternity if we but keep a sound and solid faith in the power of Christ’s Resurrection come what may.

Rev. John Brucciani