Do this first when trying to break a habit of sin.
At some point in our lives, we may realize that there is a sin we want to stop. The sin has become a nasty habit of ours and find it difficult to part ways with it.
However, where we do we start? How can we put an end to it?
Venerable Louis of Granada, a Dominican priest of the 16th century, gives his advice in a book rightly called The Sinner’s Guide. In it, he gives a step-by-step plan for sinners who want to start practicing virtue and be released from their slavery to sin.
According to Granada,
“The First Remedy against Sin [is] a Firm Resolution not to commit it.”
Be prepared, therefore, to meet with difficulties … Do not think you are called to enjoyment alone. You must struggle and combat; for, notwithstanding the abundant succor which is offered to us, we must expect hard labor and difficulties in the beginning of our conversion.
Your first determination must be a deep and unshaken resolution never to commit mortal sin, for it can only rob us of the grace and friendship of God. Such a resolution is the basis of a virtuous life.
Thus a house is still called a house though its ornaments are removed, but if the building is destroyed the ornaments perish with it. Now, the very substance, the life of virtue is charity. This remains, and therefore our spiritual edifice stands as long as we maintain our resolution not to commit mortal sin. If this fails, the whole structure is reduced to ruin; we cease to be God’s friends; we become His enemies.
Hence the constancy with which the martyrs endured such cruel torments. Rather than be deprived of God’s grace by mortal sin they submitted to be burned, to have their flesh torn with heated irons, and to suffer every torture which the cruelty of men could invent. They knew that had they sinned they could, if time were given them, repent and obtain forgiveness, as Peter did immediately after denying his Master; yet the most terrible torments were more tolerable to them than the momentary deprivation of God’s favor and grace.
He who desires to walk resolutely in the same path must strive to imitate them by fixing this resolution deep in his soul. Appreciating things at their true value, he must prefer the friendship of God to all the treasures of earth; he must unhesitatingly sacrifice perishable joys for delights that will be eternal. To accomplish this must be the end of all his actions; the object of all his prayers; the fruit he seeks in frequenting the sacraments; the profit he derives from sermons and pious reading; the lesson he should learn from the beauty and harmony of the world, and from all creatures.
Take a lesson from the carpenter, who, when he wishes to drive a large nail, is not satisfied with giving it a few strokes, but continues hammering until he is sure it is firmly fastened. You must imitate him, if you would firmly implant this resolution in your soul. Be not satisfied with renewing it from time to time, but daily take advantage of all the opportunities afforded you in meditation, in reading, in what you see or hear, to fix this horror of sin more deeply in your soul.
This clearness of mental vision is also necessary to enable the Christian to appreciate the malice and hideousness of sin, and the dangers to which it will expose us. Seeing the evil, we must restrain our appetites and fear to taste the poison which will immediately cause death.