My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things. I firmly resolve, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in His name, my God, have mercy.
Avoid whatever leads me to sin. Perhaps that is easier said than done. In order to avoid whatever leads us to sin, we first have to recognize exactly what it is that leads us to sin. In order to recognize what leads us to sin, we first need to be aware of our sins.
A good examination of conscience (any one of these are good) will help you identify your sins (which you should do prior to going to confession). Once you know your sins you can identify what leads you to them. Is it late night internet surfing that leads you to being lazy? Oversleeping? Missing Mass? Is it hanging around certain people that leads you to gossip? Lie? It is in spending time with your boyfriend late at night that leads to occasions of sin or blurred lines of chastity? Is it fantasizing about being married that leads you to entertain impure thoughts? Is it watching TV shows that leads you to not trust that God will provide? Whatever the sin, take it to prayer and ask God to show you what it is that leads you to that sin.
Sometimes it is easier than others to avoid things that lead to sin. Cutting a TV show out of your life isn’t necessarily the biggest sacrifice in the world. Cutting friends out of your life who constantly gossip can be harder. Harder still is to set limits within a relationship and cut your time together short to avoid occasions of sin. Avoiding sin requires sacrifice, plain and simple. Holiness and sainthood are never achieved apart from the sacrifice of the Cross.
The image that I’ve been using throughout this series is a stained glass window of the crucifixion which reads, “Behold the price of sin.” Christ already came and died for us, why leave Him hanging on the cross instead of avoiding what leads us to sin?
Often times avoiding sin is like a game of whack-a-mole. You get one mole (sin) to go down and stay down and then five more pop up all at once. But by taking time in prayer (and possibly with a good spiritual director) we can more clearly identify what leads us to sin. By looking at the brokenness and woundedness in our lives, we can invite Christ to heal us and thus avoid whatever leads us away from Him and towards sin.