I wear a gold cross around my neck every day. I am aware of its presence just as others are aware. I fiddle with my cross. I catch their glance down at my neck. My status as Christian is worn openly.
In Saint John’s instructions to the early Christians he makes it clear that as followers of Christ, those in the church are expected to live lives free from the domination of sin. Actually, we're not just expected but required to be continually repenting and use the Sacrament of Penance. In the early Church it was imperative that Christians live a life as free from sin as possible, especially serious sin. The physical person of Christ was gone. Conversion was only going to happen as the Holy Spirit worked through that rag-tag group of early followers. If they were hypocrites, failing to live out the fullness of the faith, how could the Church possibly grow?
As modern day Christians, we, too, are called to perfection. The call to overcome our personal sins has not changed. We don’t get to sin just a little here and there because we turn from sin so many other times in the day. We are bearers of Christ to the world, and as such we too must model our lives after Christ. It is our identity. It is who we are. Whether we wear a cross or not, we are diplomats for Christ in a secular world. That is a heavy responsibility, but we do not have to bear it alone, for Christ gives us the grace to live out the call to holiness.
Sister, if you struggle with a particular sin in your life, I encourage you to take it to prayer. Go to Confession. Recommit yourself everyday. When you fall and fail, as we all do, pick yourself up and try again. Distance yourself from the occasions that lead you to sin. Build in accountability and support systems to help you break whatever sin with which you may be struggling. And know that you are not alone. We join you with our own struggles every day.
This priest gives a great answer to someone struggling with an unbreakable habit of sin. Take heart, sister!
Dr. MaryRuth Hackett is Director of Operations for Blessed is She and host of the podcast Parenting Smarts. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: Leader Guide found here.