For the intentional believer, Lent rightly tends to be a time of purposeful change. The liturgical calendar invites us to enter the desert with our Lord and take an axe to those things are separating us from him. If our life is not bearing much good fruit, perhaps we need to look at our roots. Deep in our hearts, we know that sin separates us from the Lord, that we cannot fellowship with sin and the Holy Spirit at the same time. If we desire intimacy with Him, we must allow our hearts to be convicted, purified, and transformed. We agree to soul searching, house cleansing, and deep healing in order to be closer to the One we love and Who deserves our single hearted worship. While there can be different ways of tackling this topic, we will look at what the Catholic Christian tradition has long identified as the “three root sins,” around which other sins “cluster” and “grow.”
Scriptural basis for these root sins can be found in Genesis 3: 6 and 1 John 2: 16. “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and was desirable for gaining knowledge. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6). “For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world (1 John 2: 16).” A study and matching of these passages reveals pride, vanity, and sensuality.
What power do we give to this sin when it is unidentified and runs unchecked? We know we have an enemy, but do we know his plan of attack? Maybe it’s time to hatch a strategic battle plan through the wisdom and power of the Lord. While we all have pride, vanity, and sensuality to a certain extent, growing self knowledge will reveal one of these as predominant (be sure to look at "the reason" you do what you).
If step one is identifying our root sin, step two is eliminating manifestations according to frequency and severity. We always eliminate mortal sins, then venial sins, and then imperfections (in that order). Step three, then, is discovering in Jesus our specific role model and source of power. Let’s put this all together: the reality and horror of sin remains — so does the need for constant conversion (Chop! Chop!); try as we might, nothing is possible without the prompting and sustaining grace of God (Patience! Trust!). Therefore, begin by asking, “Lord, what are You calling me to focus on? How should I get there? Lord, please reveal yourself to me.” We might start with a vision statement and then formulate a strategic plan with no more than 3 action items to replace our bitter root sin with the sweetness of virtue. May the Lord guide and strengthen us this Lent, for, “If we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with him” (Romans 6: 8). *For more info on root sins, see Navigating the Interior Life by Dan Burke and Fr. John Bartunek, LC.