Monday, 9 April 2012

Barriers to Sainthood: Sin

"Death, but not sin!" he cried out passionately many times during his earthly life.

He was so strong willed and good, and he sure hated sin.

Who was he?

We might think that such a statement might have come from a man or woman who was about to be crucified or boiled alive, or about to be eaten by lions.

But no, this was no man or woman. This was exclaimed by a child who died at 14!

His name was Dominic Savio, even better.. St Dominic Savio at that. What was it about St Dominic Savio that made him detest sin?

Of course it was, as we exclaim in the confessional, that he dreaded “the pains of hell”. But more than that! St Dominic hated sin “because it offends ...(God) who is so good”.
You may be wondering how we can know how much God hurts when we sin and this is absolutely essential knowledge. This should be our own principal deterrent to sin.

So how can you tell how offended God is?

Let’s think about people: When you hurt someone, you can usually tell by their actions, emotion, or words. What about if you don’t think they are hurt, but you genuinely want to know for sure.
What do you do? You ask them, don’t you?
But what about God?
God wants to have a personal relationship with you, and he always puts in effort.

As one of my favourite preachers Aneel Aranah once challenged us at a conference “You ask your mum, your dad, your family and your friends “How are you?”... But do you ever ask God?” The audience and I were shocked!
I’m sure 99% of people there had never asked God that question. I sure hadn’t.

So one day after this conference I asked God that question, and he didn’t respond but I kept asking him every day. He didn’t respond for about a year, but I still hadn’t given up, i persisted.

Then one day I asked Him, like always, with a genuine care for Him.

What He said changed my outlook on sin forever.

I said “God, how are you?” and He replied: “In the innermost pains of agony”

Suddenly I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and started to cry. At that moment, I realised the horror of sin, and a little of the pain that God felt with every sin committed.

Therefore I made a resolution: I would take that prayer I said in the confessional, and I would “try my best not to sin anymore”. But this would be my real best, not the second rate “best” I had been opting for in the past.

As a result although I still sin, I now sin a lot less than I did before.

So was St Dominic Savio really serious when he said “Death, not sin!”? Absolutely.

St Dominic Savio knew the absolute agony that God goes through when He sees the sin of the world, probably much better than me. He was willing to die to sin by dying to himself. It’s taken me 24 years to seriously detest sin, but now I’m glad I do. I have become a much better person through this, and take offenses against God very seriously.

I encourage you to love the sinner, but as the saying goes, we should certainly hate the sin.

Are you willing to put away all evil ways and die to sin?

Are you willing to remove sin in your life to ensure God does not suffer because of your disobedience to Him?

Make up your mind now, but remember that God is “in the innermost pains of agony”, and does not deserve to suffer.

Let the story of young St Dominic Savio inspire you and when you feel tempted to sin, may you repeat in your heart: 

“Death, not sin!”


  1. Was watching a program called Q&A and it had Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop also of Sydney I believe. And he was arguing against Richard Dawkins. Very interesting programming!

    One interesting point raised was that the toughest question for a professional atheist would be to find cause for the beauty of the world. To explain art, music, and culture, and to explain the sudden arising of human communication and intellect.

    For the catholic/christian the most difficult question is regarding suffering -- and why God makes people suffer. Well this blog post informs us of something different. It is not why God makes us suffer, but rather why our beautiful potential is not fulfilled leading us to cause God to suffer with us.

  2. That's very interesting, I like the point in the second paragraph in particular.

    Yes I agree! Humans are quite intelligent, and to sin while knowing God will be hurt is frankly rather unintelligent.

    Especially when we consider that our disobedience in unrepentant sin will cost us more time in Purgatory or worse, a loss of heaven!

    Worse still is knowing that God has created us to be intelligent, and to avoid sin, and has created the world. To offend God is the worst part, as St Dominic knew.

    On the contrary, to please God should please ourselves as St Padre Pio mentioned so well when he said "When God is pleased, you must be pleased as well"

    And you rightfully say that our beautiful and great potential is not fulfilled when we cause God to suffer (when we sin).

    Imagine when Lucifer rebelled, and in perfect knowledge of his beauty, God's loving plan for him, and that Lucifer was, as some say, the most beautiful of God's creation at that point, and the first created! Imagine God's agony in Satan's still now unrepentant decision, and the fact that he is never going to repentant, even though he knew and still knows the extent of his actions and that he will be cast into Hell for all eternity in Hell which is being prepared for him and his demons.

    Suddenly, I guess if we try our best not to sin, our real best as I mentioned, we can sigh in relief after going to confession knowing that we are sorry for our sin, and unlike the devil, we are back in communion with God, through our own desire and through our repentance.

    Satan will never genuinely be sorry for his sin after being in full knowledge and understanding, he will never repent through his own fault. Bearing unrelenting pride, he has thrown away his beauty and using his untouched intelligence, he cunningly tempts all humanity to join his group of proud and fallen followers.

    But we are repentant, we realise that we have been created, so we are creatures. We realise our great potential but we are humble, knowing that God himself humbled himself to be born in a manger. So too, we humble ourselves, knowing that humility is beautiful and we should see this beauty of humility in others and want to befriend the humble of heart.

    To conclude. i'd like to share a piece from scripture

    If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14-15)

  3. "As one of my favourite preachers Aneel Aranah once challenged us at a conference “You ask your mum, your dad, your family and your friends “How are you?”... But do you ever ask God?” The audience and I were shocked!"

    Another fine post.

  4. Thanks for the kind words Richard.
    I was lucky to go to listen to Aneel Preaching at Flame Ministries International's (FMI) annual congress a couple of years ago. He was fantastic!

    I also love FMI as well, their teaching is exceptional.
    Check out FMI on youtube, and add eddie russell as a friend (He's an officially avowed Catholic evangelist)

    I'll certainly post more on my blog about what I have learnt from them, probably wording the post around the word "Faith".

    Thanks again for your comment :)

    May God bless you! :)