It Was Me!

by Fr. Robert Wild

There is an Eastern rite prayer we pray at Lauds every morning during Lent. “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.”

One of the spiritual sensitivities, one of the spiritual longings that goes through me every time I recite that prayer is that I hope to God that someday . . . someday . . . I will really be able to take responsibility for my sins without blaming anybody else or anything else.

“Yes, I’ve sinned, but look at the upbringing I’ve 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.”

I think one of the deepest longings in all of us is that some day, we 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 to our souls! What a burden it would lift from our hearts!

Is there a way to have this sentiment become a reality? There is. Admit to yourself that there is something right now in your life that is sinful and for which you are totally responsible.

Just the thought of it scares us, doesn’t it? But it’s true for each of us. At this moment there is something sinful in my life.

We probably don’t have the spiritual and psychic energy to face that every day. We’re supposed to admit this at the beginning of the liturgy but often it doesn’t go very deep. That’s why the Church has special seasons of penitence, like Lent and Advent. They are times to allow this truth to enter into us as deeply as possible.

This moment can also be 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, admitting now that they were for me and not first of all for “those others.”

There is a way, in the Spirit, of accepting our sinfulness that is not morbid, not 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.

We sin, and Christ came to restore sinners.

We say to Him, “Lord, kiss my sins away.”

That is what the Sacrament of Penance is.

Catherine Doherty

From Desert Harvest, (1985), pp. 47-48, Wipf and Stock Publishers, available from MH Publications