by Fr. Bob Wild.
There is an Eastern Rite prayer that we pray every day at Lauds (morning prayer) during Lent at Madonna House.
"Lead me on the path of salvation, O Mother of God, for I have profaned my soul with shameful sins and have wasted my life in laziness. When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am, I tremble at the fearful day of judgment."
Every day when we pray it, a spiritual longing goes through me: that some day, some day, I will really be able to take responsibility for my sins without blaming anybody else for them.
"Yes, I’ve sinned, but look at the upbringing I received. Yes, I’ve sinned but how could I do otherwise considering the circumstances? Yes, I’ve sinned, but I am subject to so many unconscious forces."
It is one of my deepest longings that some day I will be able to say to God in all honesty and truth: "It was me. I did it. I’m responsible. I’m a sinner. Lord, have mercy." Oh, what a breath of fresh air that would be for our souls! What a burden that would lift from our hearts!
Do you long for this, too? Is there a way for this longing become a reality? There is. Admit to yourself that there is something right now in your life, something that is sinful and for which you are totally responsible.
Does that thought scare you? But it’s the truth for each one of us. At this moment, there is something sinful in your life and in my life.
We probably don’t have the spiritual and psychological energy to face this every day. We’re supposed to admit it at the beginning of every liturgy, but even when we do, we often do it routinely and it doesn’t go very deep.
That’s why the Church gives us special seasons of penitence, like Lent and Advent. These are times to allow this truth to enter into us as deeply as possible.
That moment can be any other time as well. It can be today—now. Today, now, we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us a sinful area of our life. We can allow that healing truth to transform our hearts and then with courage and honesty, we can say, "I am a sinner."
The Fathers of the Desert called this true knowledge. Once it is known and accepted in the heart, many other aspects of life fall into place. We begin to accept sufferings of whatever kind as just punishment for our sins. The wounds of Christ become more precious to us because now we know they were for me and not first of all for "those other people."
There is a way in the Spirit of accepting our sinfulness. A way that is not morbid, depressing, not spiritually masochistic. That we are sinners is simply the truth. It is a wonderful grace, greatly to be desired, to know this truth in a life-giving way.
If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!