I'm usually not very forgetful, but there's one time that I am. During Confession, after the priest says "Now say your Act of Contrition," I typically blank. It's not that I don't know the words, or even that I'm nervous. It's that I do much better praying out loud with a bunch of other people.
I generally get my act together (pun intended) after the first few lines and then I'm in the clear. One of the things I've been trying to do in the past few months is to really pray with empathy. I've prayed the Act of Contrition hundreds of times in my life, but in Confession, I try to pray it in a way that I'm having a conversation with Christ. I pray it in a way that I'd make an apology to a friend.
There's one phrase that I get hung up on, because my follow through is very weak. "... and to avoid whatever leads me to sin."
We all know what things lead us to sin. I've written before about triggers and understanding where they come from and how they get tripped. In the Act of Contrition, and whenever we go to Confession, we promise to avoid those things, but I think it's safe to say that we do a pretty bad job.
What does it take for us to do better? What does it take for us to actually follow through? How do we overcome the most serious things that lead us to sin, things that aren't innately bad but cause us to sin anyway?
For example, what if you sin when you use Facebook? What if using Facebook leads you to jealousy or rage or pride? If you promise to avoid whatever leads you to sin, that means you promise to avoid Facebook. Ouch.
Of course, this is the challenge in the spiritual life. Many things that are popular among our friends can be potentially dangerous to our spiritual well being. We should be saying no to far more things than we already do. At the end of the day, it really does come down to priorities.
This is a battle not easily won, especially if you find yourself having to give up something that you've done for a very long time. It becomes a matter of virtue and of discipline.
A promise is a promise. We should avoid whatever leads us to sin, we say we'll avoid whatever leads us to sin, so let's just actually get the job done this time.