I was taught to pray the [Te Deum](“http:// www.catholicfirst.com/thefaith/prayers/tedeum.html”) every day, and part of it reads “vouch safe, this day-to-day oh Lord, to keep us without sin,” but I still can’t seem to get thru the day without committing a venial sin.
Is God refusing to answer my prayers (and not giving me the grace I need to get thru the day without sinning), or are these sins I referred to as venial really more serious than that?
Could I really get thru the day without sinning at all if I really wanted to?
Remember that as Catholics, we are always striving to be perfect, “as our Heavenly Father is perfect”. We know that it is very, very hard to achieve anything close to perfection in this life, but we strive for it nonetheless, and we ask God for the grace to do so.
So when you ask God to keep you without sin, He hears you, and He gives you graces to help you avoid sin, but since your nature is still not well enough perfected, you are still unable to avoid sin entirely. This doesn’t mean God ignored you, just that you still have to keep working to grow in virtue.
It is, in fact, possible for a person to achieve a state where they are no longer venially sinning at all. At this point in the spiritual life, that person is now working on conquering their imperfections, which are not sins, but are the lack of a good.
Many people never reach that point in the spiritual life, but it is not as hard to reach as you might think. Daily prayer and Mass, and a focus on increasing the time you spend in mental prayer (as opposed to vocal prayers) can get you closer to it.
If I asked something of you, you could respond with a “yes” or a “no”. God can have those same responses. When you ask God for help with something, he can say no. Sometimes, it will be because he knows you already have the ability to achieve what you are asking for. You don’t need his help. Other times, God will work through a fellow human. You might need to ask someone else for help or accept help when it presents itself. Another possibility is that God will say yes to your prayer, but his plans are much slower than ours. Maybe you have to wait a year for your prayer to be answered (or even much, much longer). I’ve heard stories of someone praying for the conversion of a loved one, and it didn’t happen until the loved one was on their death bed. Sometimes you just need patience, but always keep praying. The more important something is to you, the more you should be praying about it.
I was reading this last night and I kinda think St. Augustine was right here.
He, moreover, who says that any man, after he has received remission of sins, has ever lived in this body, or still is living, so righteously as to have no sin at all, he contradicts the Apostle John, who declares that If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 Observe, the expression is not we had, but we have. --St. Augustine, On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness
But then are we asking the impossible when we ask God to “keep us this day without sin”?
How can we say those words and mean them if we know God doesn’t grant a request like that all at once?