Compunction of St. Augustine, Fra Angelico.
I took the header quote from Fr. Z's post on the saint here.
The quote, translated from the Latin “amans vias meas et non tuas, amans fugitivam libertatem” (3.3.5) is how Augustine described his 'profligate youth'. It really nails the experience of many a youth, I think. At least mine. (I never grew up until I was 50, and even then I was pretty retarded.) That said, St. Augustine, please pray for me! Interestingly Fr. Z says that in the original Latin, St. Augustine says that after his conversion and as bishop he was "loved and feared" by his people. I think I may have shied away from Augustine over the years out of fear ... his example and teaching really calls for a resolute conversion, don't you agree?
St. Augustine, pray for me.
I mention this because traditionally Augustine is a great example for penitents - those who leave the profligate lifestyle behind.
I've often written about how conversion can go in 'fits and starts'. Big sins bring on dramatic flights to the confessional - the fear of God - and hell - or the fear of being lost completely in an ocean of smut, can effect in us a new determination to sin no more. Throw all of our sexy swimwear and tight clothes into a bonfire, like St. Thais, or something. I'm not really exaggerating here either.
I've probably told the story of a former monk who had the reputation of always repenting - not like the desert fathers story - but someone I knew. No, not me - although close. He left the monastery and burst out onto the bar scene and was rather profligate. (Love that word.) Just as much as he threw himself into all sorts of debauchery - he would repent, weekly, monthly, every other day ... It happens. It doesn't mean the repentance is insincere - not at all. It happens. The situation or 'soul-sickness' at the time reminds me of the story of the man in the Gospel whose son, tormented by demons, kept throwing himself into the fire in fits and starts, more or less.
Unlike the great penitents, many of us fall after our conversion. We return to confession and rise again and keep trying. If our sins involve another - bad friendships, anonymous sex, casual sex, and so on - in and through the process of repentance, confession, conversion - the road behind can be 'littered with road kill' to use a friend's metaphor for my blog.
When we clean up our act, we sometimes forget the 'friends' and partners in sin we left behind. We fail to understand our role in causing another person to sin. We may worry about our salvation, but do we have concern for those we may have 'used' for our pleasure? Know what I mean? A holy confessor, a monk, once said to me - "Your sins are forgiven, but what about those you caused to sin with you?"
It's something we can miss in our repentance - especially in our fits and starts ... we can also miss the underlying sins - but that's another post. We drag people into our sin - do we pull them up when we repent? Perhaps that thought can help one to avoid sin in the future. Mortal sin destroys charity in the soul, we offend God and neighbor. This is why we need to make reparation. It is why we need to pray even harder for the conversion of sinners. We don't need to call sinners out, or proclaim our new-found innocence over their heads, shaming them for not believing we are now all respectable and acceptable. (Sometimes that is what we want - to be acceptable and respectable.) It may be more convincing to make reparation - to pray and do penance for our sins - praying fervently for our conversion and the conversion of sinners.
We forget about that sometimes when we are all shiny clean and feeling saved after confession. At least I did. I dumped bad companions - which is the right thing to do in most cases - but I never told them why. I always thought 'they' were my problem - my 'occasion of sin' - but it was pretty much me.
“Where does temptation come from? How does it work in us? The Apostle tells us that it is not from God, but from our passions, our inner weaknesses, from the wounds left in us by original sin: that’s where temptations come from, from these passions. - Pope Francis
The 'adventure' made sin 'fun' - “I loved my own way, not yours, but it was a truant’s freedom that I loved”...
Our Lord can make all things well, so it is good to try and make reparation, and pray for those we used and cast away.