St. Bernard of Clairvaux speaks of how miserable it is to turn back to the slavery of our disordered passions once having tasted the grace of God. Such a person is doomed to continual frustration, as the things of the world simply can’t satisfy our hunger and “ravenous curiosity” since the forms of this world are passing away. He bemoans the fate of the soul “who once fed so delicately now lies groveling on the dunghill (Lam. 4:5).”
The vigorous effort that the saints urge us to make in the struggle against sin is firmly grounded in the Scriptures.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind… Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.” (Jas. 4:7-10)
We need to determine, with the help of God’s grace , never to freely choose to offend Him. St. Francis De Sales makes clear that such purification to the affection for sin must extend to venial sins also. Francis knows that as long as we’re alive in this body the wounds of original sin and our past actual sins will cause affection for sin to spring up again and again. But it’s our response to this bent of our nature towards sin that is determinative of the progress we make on the spiritual journey. We need to grow in our hatred for sin so we can resist it when it makes its appeals. More about that tomorrow.