On Praying for a Deep Hatred and Fear of Sin and Its Darkness

Woman shadow behind translucent mirror.We ought to ask the Lord to inspire us with a holy hatred of sin. There is a kind of inverse relationship that we ought to seek: if we love the truth staunchly we will detest sin and lies more fully. It is impossible to love the truth vigorously without also detesting error. Similarly, as we grow in the love of God, we grow in the love of holiness, for God is holy.

As our love for Him deepens, we become increasingly averse to all that is unholy. We begin to detest anything that would separate us from the beautiful, loving holiness of God. As we learn to love the light and become accustomed to it, the darkness becomes unfathomable to us. We cannot see into its depths at all.

But sadly many of us, though we were made for the light (with retinas attuned to bright days and easily lost in the dark), do just fine in the dark. Imagine you are in a well-lit room, when suddenly the lights go out. Because you have become accustomed to the light, the room seems pitch black at first; you feel disoriented and confused. But in a moment or two, you begin to become accustomed to the dark. You can start to make out a few things, and then more and more. After a while you can even navigate around pretty well in the darkness. This scenario parallels the spiritual situation with truth and holiness as compared to lies and sin. And while the ability to become accustomed to the darkness is a good thing in the physical world, it is a terrible thing to happen to us spiritually.

Spiritual darkness is something to which we should never become accustomed. We should not want to be able to navigate the darkness. We should detest the darkness, dreading it with a holy fear that makes us quickly seek the light again.

Woe to us who are willing to live in the twilight, appreciating the light of God’s truth, but not so much that we detest the darkness and find it unfathomable. Too many of us Christians are willing and able to navigate the darkness and do not have a proper fear of it. We are not shocked by sin, as when the lights first go out in a room. Instead of quickly seeking to restore the light, we settle down in the darkness and learn to navigate in the shadows. Once we are used to the dark, things become increasingly silhouetted in a way that they were not when the lights first went out.

And thus our love for the light diminishes; we no longer hate it or are shocked by it. We begin to navigate its shadows just fine. Slowly, we, who were made to walk in the light, become content and able to exist like weasels and groundhogs, who are quite able to navigate the darkness.

Once used to the dark, or at least to the twilight, even we who are to be children of the light can be heard to say that the undiluted light of God’s truth is too harsh, too revealing of painful things, too intolerant, and so forth. And when we speak like this, it is certain that the darkness has us in its grips and that we prefer its shadows to the glory and clarity of the light.

What a disgrace! In John’s Gospel, Jesus warns of the battle against our love of darkness: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (Jn 3:19-21).

Indeed, pray for a hatred of sin, for a fear of being lost in its darkness. May we never learn to navigate its twilight, but ever stumble about in it crying out again for the light. May the darkness be detestable to us and may its ways and depths be unfathomable to us.

Yes, pray for a hatred of sin. Pray for shock at its darkness. Pray for an inability to accustom yourself to its lifeless shadows. Pray to be crippled by it, unable to move about in it or compromise with its shadows. Pray for a deep fear of it. Pray for the ability to cry out for light and only light.

When I was a child I feared the dark and would call out for my parents. But do I now? Do you?

Pray for a deep hatred of sin, a sadness for it. Pray for the zeal to flee its first shadows. Please do not click away from this blog until you have done so.

Jesus light of the world, please help me to fear and detest the darkness. Help me to love the light and be shocked and disoriented by the darkness. May I never be able to navigate its shadows or find the twilight a happy medium. Only the light of you, pure, dear Lord, only light. May all else depress, disorient, and cause me to despise it without compromise. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

14 Replies to “On Praying for a Deep Hatred and Fear of Sin and Its Darkness”

  1. This is so needed. I confess I am in dire need of God’s grace and blessing of hatred if the dark.

  2. This meditation should be shared far and wide! Please keep this wisdom coming. I will continue to pray for this for myself, my husband, and my children. Thank you, and may God bless you, Monsignor.

  3. Thank you! I have been busy and not reading as frequently as in the past, but this is just what I needed today. Thank you for being the voice in the wilderness.

  4. “You know, O Mary, how often our souls have the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.” From the Perpetual Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

  5. A very easy way to incorporate a daily, or at least frequent, prayer beseeching God to give us a deep hatred (or great horror) of sin is contained in St. Louis de Montfort’s short-form rosary, Sorrowful Mysteries, Fifth Mystery (the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus on the Cross). This rosary may be found in God Alone, a compendium of St. Louis’ work published by his religious order, and in many, many small inexpensive pamphlets containing prayers and/or meditations on the mysteries of the rosary. If you pray the rosary daily, or at least frequently, this is a good way to keep seeking this particular grace.
    From experience, I have found that this is one of those graces that we tend to not to think to ask for; we need to be reminded on this one.

  6. Dear Msgr. Pope,
    yes, avoid the darkness! Avoid it at all cost because once you are in it, you have a hard time getting out.
    Light shines and gives us hope, darkness has none.

  7. Great article!

    About a week ago, after confession, I was just thinking this; how much I hate sin. I said the prayer. Practicing Catholics have a real advantage in recognizing sin because God really works in the sacrament of confession through the Holy Spirit, in convicting us of our sins.

    The good thing is that God knows how much I hate my sins!

  8. Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for another excellent article/blog post, and for consistently standing up for the truth and what is right and holy. I pray that our Lord will give me the strength to hate sin and the spiritual darkness that you’ve described, and that He will give me the courage and conviction to stand for the Catholic faith no matter what the cost.

  9. DO NOT pray to fear the darkness for each of us need to face it in battle! DO NOT pray to be disoriented by the darkness as each one of us need wisdom from the Holy Spirit so that we are at the top of our game in our battle against the evil. Pray for the darkness to be disoriented!! Pray for darkness to be depressed/ suppressed!! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU WROTE THIS PRAYER!!!! Say what you mean and mean what you say! Be careful for what you pray for. Yes, pray to hate darkness. REWORD THIS PRAYER ASAP!!!!

  10. When I recall my own personal fear of God – the Spirit within me calls me to action, in reverence to God’s justice and at the same token, his love and inexhaustible mercy.

    Therefore when Msgr. Pope referred to pray for a fear of darkness/sin, he isn’t calling us to be afraid to a point of inactiveness, rather I believe Msgr. is saying that through prayer (however you want to word it, for God hears our hearts most importantly) we will be armored with the Word of God to face the battle. If my Fear of God was invalid, I wouldn’t have the courage to ask for the wisdom to spread His Love to the world!

    In the end, Jesus wins. God wins.

    God bless us all as we carry our cross as modern disciples. Thank you Msgr. Pope.

  11. With all due respect, why not say that? I usually agree with many of Msgr. Pope’s blogs, however we are in a time when evil is appearing to be good. We cannot take chances on semantics. We must mean what we say and say what we mean. The evil is too awful and the temptation to run in fear of it is very great indeed. As one who faces it daily… I beg all of you to please pray for the courage to face it and do battle. If more of the faithful stood their ground and fought the evil, I would not be in the battle that I am in now.

  12. Amen, may we stand our grounds together. Together as a church, let us fight the good fight together.
    Use that fire within you to plant seeds, the fruits of the spirit so that we can battle together.
    That is where fear will not weigh us down, courage!!! We were meant to be courageous!
    Even though we fail, the Spirit will not leave us or forsake us.
    God bless.

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