Over at Catholic Exchange, Fr. Ed Broom has some great tips on making a better confession. All ten of them offer some pretty good advice, but #9 stuck out to me:
9. Avoid Discouragement. Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some bad habits have possibly clung to us for decades. Many have a “Micro-wave” spirituality—namely instant holiness! It does not work that way. Change is often tedious, laborious and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin. Of course a key message from the Diary is that the worse thing possible is to fail to trust in God’s infinite mercy. As St. Paul reminds us, “Where sin abounds God’s mercy abounds all the more.”
That is so important.
I think most Catholics would like to be saints now - it would be so nice to avoid all the ups and downs of fighting temptation, building virtue, and repenting of sin. In the face of the long road that lies before us, it is easy to get discouraged.
If the Christian life is a battle - fighting against our tendency to selfishness and sin - then we may find ourselves in enemy territory. There are sins that we just can't conquer. We can find ourselves beaten down and doubting that victory is even possible.
But the war is not over as long as we don't surrender.
It makes me think of stories of Japanese soldiers who didn't know or refused to believe that World War II was over. They held out for years, convinced that they were continuing the battle on behalf of their homeland.
Our spiritual war is real - and we know that God, in the end, wins; so, no matter how tough the fighting gets, we can get up again and again with the knowledge that our homeland and our King are still out there.
If you find yourself discouraged because of a habitual sin - one that you confess over and over again, intending to really change every time - just remember that God doesn't want your vision of holiness, but His. Get up, keep on fighting, and put your faith in God who will never abandon you.