top of page

What's Sin got to do with it?

How sin can wreck your life

Samson is an example of somebody who let sin wreck his life. You can find his story in Judges, 13-16. He was born at a time when Israel needed a savior. His mother received a prophecy from an angel of the Lord, announcing his birth. He was to be consecrated as a nazarite, staying away from unclean foods, alcohol and letting his hair grow out.

He was blessed by the Lord with incredible strength. And yet, he turned away from the Lord, already while seeking out his future wife. He sought out one from the Philistines, who the Israelites hated and despised. He had a complex story with the Lord. He alternated between military victories and harsh defeats caused by the treachery of those whom he trusted because of his sin. Lust is a bad guide for life-decisions. Samson learned the hard way. Finally, his love for Delilah led to his ultimate destruction.

How did Samson feel as his life was collapsing? Did he ever wonder if his choices had led to his demise? Did he ever wonder how other people saw him? He knew that the Israelites judged him for chasing after Philistine women instead of marrying a good Israelite girl. For us too, we can fall into despair when we fall into sin. We can think "everybody is judging me. They don't understand me. I am different. I know why I do the things I do."

And just like that, sin sneaks in and destroys us. It wrecks us. We are all vulnerable to the effects of sin. Samson gouged out his own eyes, trying to avoid seeing the disaster he had made of his own life. His sins caught up with him. His love for Philistine women led to his death as he was killing Philistines. And the sins of his life ate him up. And this is what sin does. Sin blinds you. Sin finds you. Sin grinds you.

I work in a psychological clinic and it is interested to see how in some cases sin can lead to mental illness. One of the benefits of a clinic with a Catholic anthropology is that we can recognize the reality of sin. I see people who have been hurt by therapy when the clinician tries to justify behavior that they know is evil. Human life separated from morality is a hell - for the person and for those around him.

What is sin, actually?

"Sin is lawlessness." (1Jn. 3:4) Sin is rebellion against God. (cf. Dt. 9:7; Joshua 1:18) Sin comes from pride, as the devil tried to be greater than God. (cf. Is. 14:12-15) Original sin is inherited from our first parents. (cf. Gn. 3; Rm. 5:12) Sin begets death. (cf. Rm. 6:23)

For the pagan world, evil is often seen as a result of ignorance, error or blind fate. Sin is a transgression agains the laws of society and the universe. Penance might be viewed as a way to restore order. This is the justification of animal sacrifice, for example. A pagan worldview might conceptualize an ideal beginning with total harmony. Time is viewed as cyclical, with an eternal return to the ideal beginning. Physical evil comes about as a result of moral evil. This worldview is reflected to some extent in the Old Testament. Sin is seen, then, as a violation of a certain taboo. It might be a violation of a moral law and even an offense against God, who is an inexorable cosmic force. Penance is an effort to return to the original state of affairs.

A Biblical worldview, on the other hand, puts sin in the context of destroying a personal relationship between the creator and the creature. This relationship is not merited by the creature, but is nevertheless there. To do good is to do what is pleasing to God. To do evil is to rebel against him and reject his blessings. Sin is always a rejection of God, leading to a real loss, even when one thinks it leads to something great.

Both in Hebrew, "chata" and in Greek, "hamartia" - the word for "sin" refers to missing the mark, as when an arrow is shot towards a target but deviates from the intended path. We are always aiming in our moral actions. When we miss the correct mark, we fall into sin.

Distorted Vision

One of the possible psychological effects of sin is that it can make us think that the deviant path is the right one. The other day, I went in for an eye exam. I received some eyedrops that dilated my pupils so the doctor could check to make sure that everything was ok. For several hours, my vision was blurry. Putting on my glasses did not really help. Now, when our pupils are dilated, too much light is getting in and our brain is unable to process the information.

It seems that this can happen to our moral vision as well. If we think of the area of sexuality, we recognize that we live in a world that is flooded with sexual images. Sex is a good and holy thing in the proper context but when it becomes the lens through which we judge all else, our view is skewed. Many psychological problems begin with somebody's misuse of sex. People have been abused and the effects last far into the future. Often, some time of detoxification can be helpful to return to a healthier state of mind.

Sin is not the end of the road

When we are being tempted, God tells us "don't do it" and Satan says "it's not a big deal." After we sin, God says "I forgive you" and Satan says "you are lost forever." Now, we as Catholics we often divide sin into "mortal" and "venial." For a sin to be "mortal," it has be grave matter, the subject must be aware and fall into it freely. If any of these three characteristics is missing, the sin is venial. But when we look at the effects of sin, we would almost argue that they are essentially different. For mortal sin kills grace in the soul, whereas venial sin merely weakens the relationship with God. It can also be serious, but there is a big difference between "sick" and "dead."

How God’s mercy is greater than our sinfulness

God does a great job of writing straight with our crooked lines. Even our sinfulness can help bring us to a greater consciousness and awareness of God's grace in our lives. The more we recognize the horrors of sin, if we couple this with an awareness of God's mercy, the better we can appreciate God's action in our life. So much mental anguish comes from holding on to sin and despair, instead of letting the light and mercy of God enter in.

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart is not about primarily fulfilling a set of promises. Rather, it is about entering into a greater personal relationship with Christ. It can influence our mental health positively.

We gain emotional support because we find comfort in the image of the Sacred Heart. We know that it represents the unconditional love and understanding of Jesus. It can help us feel connected to God and experience inner peace.

Since there can be no doubt that Jesus Christ received a true body and had all the affections proper to the same, among which love surpassed all the rest, it is likewise beyond doubt that He was endowed with a physical heart like ours; for without this noblest part of the body the ordinary emotions of human life are impossible. Therefore the Heart of Jesus Christ, hypostatically united to the divine Person of the Word, certainly beat with love and with the other emotions- but these, joined to a human will full of divine charity and to the infinite love itself which the Son shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, were in such complete unity and agreement that never among these three loves was there any contradiction of or disharmony. (Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, 40)

Devotion to the Sacred Heart helps us cope with stress, since we have time for prayer, meditation and reflection. These activities are known to reduce stress levels, promote relaxation, and give a healthy outlet for emotional release. Regular practice of the devotion can thus help us manage stress more effectively and improve our mental stability.

We also gain strength through our sense of purpose and meaning. "Sacred Heart of Jesus, make our hearts more like yours." This prayer gives us purpose and meaning. The more we are like Jesus, the better we are able to navigate life's challenges. This brings greater stability to our lives.

Cultivating the virtues connected to this devotion makes us better people. By growing in the virtues, we are strengthening our souls and fortifying ourselves against the attacks of the Evil One and mental health struggles that may be connected.

Finally, through devotion to the Sacred Heart, we become part of a community of individuals seeking to give God first place in our lives. It can be difficult, and we all fail constantly, but Jesus wants to share with us the joy of following him and growing closer to his Sacred Heart.

Love of the Sacred Heart

We need to be healed by the saving love of Christ. The image of the Sacred Heart "is a symbol of that divine love by which he shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but which He, the Word made flesh, alone manifests through a weak and perishable body." (Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, 55) So in the Sacred Heart we see the divine love of Christ. We see it as well as the "symbol of that burning love which, infused into his soul, enriches the human will of Christ and enlightens and governs its acts by the most perfect knowledge derived both from the beatific vision and that which is directly infused." (Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, 56) He is better equipped to love. We can only love what we know, and Christ knows better than any of us can. As humans, it is so helpful that it is the "symbol also of sensible love, since the body of Jesus Christ, formed by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, possesses full powers of feelings and perception, in fact, more so than any other human body." (Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, 57) "Nobody can love you like I do." These words are really only true when spoken to our hearts by the mouth of Christ.

Trusting in God and seeing how he can help us can also open us up to accepting help from others. One of the special privileges I have at the Divine Mercy Clinic is seeing how so many people open themselves up to psychotherapy, gaining tools to deal with the stresses of life. Learning to cope with anxiety and depression, or anger management and navigating difficult relationships, all help the individual to grow in ways that would have otherwise been difficult to imagine. Sometimes, the bravest words that can come from our mouths are "I need help."

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

About Me

Portrait FNS 9.17.2021.jpg

Welcome to my blog! I hope you like it. Let me know. Let's stay in touch.


Posts Archive

Keep Your Friends
Close & My Posts Closer.

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page