For many years I struggled with a number of habitual sins common to the male of the species. I say I struggled with, rather than against, because for much of that time I was complicit. I knew these things were sinful, knew they weren’t healthy for me or my marriage, and yet I was only willing to resist up to a point.
I remember going to confession with Fr. Siebenaler in the old St. Michael church and confessing these same sins yet again. He spoke kindly but bluntly: “You remind me of St. Augustine praying, ‘Give me continence, but not yet!'” And he advised that if I truly loved my wife and wanted to leave these sins behind I should admit them to her and ask for her help in overcoming them.
I thanked him, did my penance, and returned home thinking, He’s obviously never been married—no way am I telling Jodi!
Several weeks later, after collapsing into the same self-destructive cycles, I came clean to my bride, begging for her forgiveness and help. It was a huge step forward in humility and the beginning of changing my life and our marriage for the better.
Too often our sense of self-reliance is a stumbling block to conversion and an occasion of sin. In our worst moments, perhaps we turn to God and beg His mercy, but after a little improvement, we are tempted to claim victory for ourselves. We forget that the path to heaven is narrow and fraught with difficulty, and that holiness is a daily struggle.
The motto for this site is “Victory Is Ours.” Those three words, coupled to the image of St. Michael the Archangel casting down the Enemy, is meant to stir up hope and joy. In a broken world darkened by sin, we know that the battle is won—we need only to persevere in faith.
Satan loves to convince us that perseverance is for chumps. He knows our weaknesses and our pride. He tells us first that we’ve won, then that we can never win. He himself will trumpet our small victories, our individual acts of virtue, in order to fan the flames of pride and self-reliance that lead, time and again, to disappointment.
He rejoices to see us claim self-mastery only to fail and fall into despair. The higher we reach, the further we fall—and if we are convinced that we climbed on our own steam, we feel more broken and helpless when we hit bottom again.
Victory is ours—that much is true—but it belongs to us first and foremost by adoption and inheritance, and not by strength of arms. The only begotten Son of God, the man called Jesus, lived and died and rose again, defeating the Devil and death itself. His strength won the day. His merits paid our debt.
Victory is ours because victory is His, and we are His.