I have a confession to make, I hate cleaning. There I said it and now the whole world knows it. But even though I hate it, it still has to be done. Furthermore, after it is done once, that isn’t the end of it, you have to do it again and again, because if you don’t, soon it will be just as bad (if not worse) than it was. The same goes for our souls, we have to clean them of sin and then keep up with the cleaning.
I have written about my past problems and how God never let me fall so far that I couldn’t come back. But the same thing would happen every time. I would be good, stop drinking, pay attention to my life, but sooner or later I would fall back to my not so good ways. It was like I was cleaning the house and then just letting it go. Each time the house was dirtier than the last. I didn’t keep up with the dusting, so each time I had to clean it was harder than the last.
In Friday’s Gospel reading, Jesus addresses this:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” – Luke 11:24 – 26
Jesus is talking about an evil spirit being expelled from a person and not being able to find another home to lay its evil head. It decides to head back to the original person it was in and finds that the “house” has been cleaned, but he also finds that the cleaning isn’t being kept up. He decides to reenter but this time he brings seven of his friends, “more evil than the first.” As Jesus says, “The last state of the man is worse than the first.” As the more evil spirits enter, they are harder to expel. For example if you are a drinker, you will find it harder to give up the second, third or fourth time.
There is one thing common about all sins, and this is how the Evil One gets us hooked into them, they are all pleasurable in some way. They all make you feel good in some way. Yes, I know something like drinking to excess can make you sick, but when you first start, you enjoy it at first, and then as you go along it might not feel quite as good, but you are hooked. Adultery, self-pleasure, gambling, are all the same. Some you may not get sick with, but they are all hard to break because they all feel good.
This is why you need to keep your inner house clean, and continue doing it before it gets worse. As a Catholic, we have the Sacrament of Confession, where we confess our sins to a priest and are absolved from our sins. While there is no set rule as to how often you should go, other than at least once a year, I find that it is best to go often rather than seldom. I still recall the first time I went to confession after 35 years or so and how good it felt. It’s funny, when I was younger and knew more than God, I could never understand why I had to go tell the priest my sins, after all God knows everything I do, He knew when I screwed up and as long as I confessed to Him, all was good. Even now I have a hard time explaining why Catholics believe in this, I am far from an apologist. Fortunately there are people much, much better at it than I who can.
And one more thing I have learned is each time I go to confession, it is easier and it is also easier not to sin. After all, I still don’t want to tell the priest my sins!
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