20131209 Grace purifies the soul 聖寵淨潔靈魂

St. Francis de Sales pointed out that the first step in the devout life is the purification of the soul. We need to be patient, for “ordinary purification and healing, whether of body or soul, are accomplished little by little, progressing slowly, and often hardly at all.”
On the spiritual journey, failures and setbacks are inevitable; we should not be discouraged by them, nor should we overlook and ignore them.
St. Francis pointed out that our perfection consists in struggling against our spiritual infirmities, “which we cannot do unless we perceive them, neither can we conquer unless we come into collision with them. Victory does not lie in ignoring our infirmities, but in resisting them.”

General confession
The first thing we must purify ourselves of is sin, especially mortal sin, and the means to purify ourselves is the sacrament of penance. We are obliged to confess all our mortal sins committed since baptism. St. Francis de Sales recommended the practice of general confession.
A general confession is a repetition of all previous confessions, or at least of some of them. General confession is necessary if a person has made a bad confession in the past by purposely omitting a mortal sin.
For others, general confession is recommended as conducive to greater self-knowledge, to deeper humility, and to increased peace of mind. It is good to make a general confession annually after a retreat. This is called a confession of devotion.
Regarding general confession, St. Francis wrote, “Hesitate not, then, to open your heart fully in confession, for in proportion as your sins go forth, the precious merits of Christ’s passion will come in and fill you with all blessings.”

Deep contrition
To make progress in the spiritual life, we must be purified both from sin and from affection for sin.
St. Francis wrote, “Some penitents, though they forsake sin outwardly, do not forsake the love of sin; that is to say, they resolve to sin no more, but it is with reluctance that they abstain from the fatal delights of sin. Their hearts renounce it, and seek to depart, but they frequently look longingly behind them, as did Lot’s wife.”
Hence we should strive to achieve deep contrition, which not only serves to purify us from actual sin, but also serves to purify us from all affection for sin. A hearty and vigorous contrition helps a person to lose all delight in everything appertaining to sin. An effective means to achieve this kind of contrition is the exercise of meditation.
St. Francis de Sales suggested the faithful meditate on the following: creation, why God made us, the mercies and favours of God, sin, death, judgment, hell, paradise, and the choice of a devout life.
Meditation, deep contrition, and sincere confession serve to purify the soul from mortal sins and affection for them. However we should also strive to purify ourselves from affection for venial sins.
St. Francis pointed out that though we can never be wholly free from venial sins, we can be free from affection for them. “There is a wide difference between a chance falsehood concerning some trivial matter, which is the result of carelessness, and taking pleasure in falsehood or deliberately telling lies.”
Inclinations to mortal sin are opposed to charity, and inclinations to venial sin are opposed to devotion. Mortal sin kills the soul spiritually, while deliberate venial sin wounds it grievously.
Detachment is an important aspect of purification. We should not let ourselves be absorbed by activities such as sports, balls, festivities, display, and drama.
St. Francis wrote, “The evil lies not in doing the thing, but in caring for it.” We should leave our heart free for God and for the interior life.

聖方濟.沙雷指出,踏出熱心生活的第一步,是要有潔淨的靈魂;但我們需要耐心,因為「一般身心的淨化及痊癒,是要按步就班,不能一促即就。」

 

其實,靈修生活會有起跌熾淡,我們不必氣餒,也不要輕視和忽略。聖方濟分析,我們成全之路,不能避免與自己靈性上軟弱對抗,「如果我們不能戮刺這軟弱,我們會寸進難前;假如我們不面對這軟弱,我們又何來征服它呢?克服的勝利,非在於掩面而過,卻是奮力抵抗。」

 

總告解

 

要淨潔靈魂,第一樣要做的,就是要清除罪污,所用的工具是告解(修和)聖事。我們必須要把領洗後犯過的大罪,在告解中告明。聖方濟.沙雷推薦「總告解神功」。

 

「總告解」是重複以往辦過的告解,或以往部份的告解。若以前曾故意隱瞞的大罪,沒有妥辦的告解,便有嚴重責任去辦「總告解」。為其他的教友,辦「總告解」幫助人更認識自己、深化自己的謙卑,增進內心的平安。每年退省後辦的總告解,我們稱之為「虔敬的告解」。

 

有關「總告解」,聖方濟寫道:「在告解時,把你的心靈敞開,你的罪愈淌出,基督苦難寶貴的功勞就愈進入並帶來祝福。」

 

深切懺悔

 

要使靈修進步,不只要清除罪污,亦要除去對罪的情趣。聖方濟寫道:「有些人外表表示要棄絕罪惡,但內心不然,仍有對罪惡的慾欲有所依戀;也就是說,雖然他們似有定改之心,聲明離開罪惡,但只勉強地戒絕罪的快感,不時回頭探看,正如羅特的妻子一樣。」

 

因此,要奮力達到深切懺悔,以求淨除罪惡,亦祈擯棄對罪惡的依戀。一個從心底堅定的痛悔,會令一個人對任何涉及犯罪的事情,感到索然無味。「默想」對深切懺悔極其有助。

 

聖方濟.沙雷建議信眾,可以默想天主的創造、為何我們被創造、天主的慈悲與恩賜,又可以默想罪惡、死亡、審判、地獄、天堂,和選擇渡虔誠的生活。

 

默想、懺悔和誠摯的告解,能淨除靈魂的大罪,消除大罪的惡果。不過,我們不應忽略努力淨除小罪的必要。聖方濟又指出,我們不能完全杜絕小罪,但是,我們可以脫離對小罪的情趣。他寫道:「要知道,由於暢意樂心,一兩次在小事情上撒謊作弄人,這是一回事;而以撒謊騙人為樂趣,却是另一回事,二者是不可同日而語的!」

傾向大罪就是相反愛德,傾向小罪是相反虔誠。大罪謀殺靈魂,小罪則可以嚴重傷害靈魂。

 

棄俗的精神對潔淨靈魂十分重要。我們要避免留戀世間的娛慶,例如體育運動、慶會盛宴、外觀擺設、劇集電影等。聖方濟寫道:「作這些事,也無錯誤可言,只是寄情於這些事,那就錯莫大焉!」我們應該騰空心扉,以容天主及內在靈修。

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