When We Do the Wrong Things Habitually

Originally appeared at: The Morning Offering

That we must struggle with our passions is a given. All the holy fathers counsel us to do battle with the passions, yet we continue committing the same sins over and over.Sometimes it is because we’ve allowed ourselves to fall into the habit of submitting to the same passions time and again. We stole an item from the office and got away with it, so the next time we think we need an extra pen, we take it. Perhaps we have twenty such corporate pens in a large mug, sitting on the counter in our kitchen. Do we need all of them, or do we ever even use any of them? Yet the count continues, because we’ve gotten into the habit of taking them from the office.

Do we think our job in a restaurant gives us the right to smuggle out food at the end of our shift, and does our low salary make us excuse such theft? Or perhaps we switch a high end bulk coffee into the low end store brand bag, paying three dollars less per pound than we should, because we could get away with it?

Perhaps we find we snap at our spouse, or our children, even when we are not angry. Or, we drive in an aggressive manner, thinking we need to be ahead of someone driving the speed limit, all because we’ve been doing so on work days. Maybe we are verbally abusive with our employees because we have the power to do so, given the economy (where are they going to work, if not here).

These are all examples of sinful behavior that can become habitual, and should be addressed directly if we are ever to be freed from our passions. We can start by slowly returning the pens to the office, two by two, until they’ve all been returned. We can arrive early at the restaurant job, and stay beyond our shift, paying for the stolen food with our extra hours of service. We can purchase a money order and anonymously pay back the grocery store the amount we’ve stolen from them over the years. We can choose to drive in the slow lane, on a daily basis, leaving early enough to reduce the temptation for aggressive driving. We can use our iPod to hear a talk by Father John Whiteford, making the end of the day a time of spiritual reflection, all the while driving in the slow lane.

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