God wants our brokenness. He wants everything that makes us imperfect in the eyes of the world. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz offers a relieving truth about God’s paradoxical love for us, how he love us—not in spite of our weaknesses—but because of them.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness. (Psalm 51:3)
The psalmist reminds us of two foundational truths: we are utterly dependent on God for his mercy, and we can trust that his “goodness” and the “greatness” of his “compassion” far outweigh our sin (Psalm 51:3). That’s what makes Psalm 51 such a rich resource as we prepare to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So let’s pray through it together while imagining a conversation we might have with the Lord:
In the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense (Psalm 51:3). “Here it is, Lord, my sin. A hurtful word. Inattention to someone in need. Failure to honour a commitment. I recognize that offense, and I am sorry. I realise I’ve done wrong. Please forgive me.”
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt (Psalm 51:4). “Sometimes I have a hard time believing you want to forgive me. Guilt makes my failures loom large before me. Lord, help me to believe in your mercy, no matter what I’ve done. Help me understand that I am your beloved, made in your image. My sins don’t define who I am.”
A clean heart create for me, O God (Psalm 51:12). “Lord, help me to desire to change. I don’t just want to do good things. I want to love you and do everything for love of you. I want to grow in understanding how much you love me and all the people you have put in my life.”
A steadfast spirit renew within me (Psalm 51:12). “I have good intentions and resolutions right now in this moment of prayer, but help me live them out all day long. At work, at home, with friends or strangers, help me to be steadfast in following through on the ways I plan to do good and avoid evil.”
Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me (Psalm 51:13). “God, I can’t do any of this on my own, no matter how hard I try. But I believe that in Baptism and Confirmation, I received your Holy Spirit. Spirit of God, I rely on you to empower me to leave sin behind and to love the way you love.”
“A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Psalm 51:19).
I know you receive what is in my heart.
Let me be inspired by your words
and by the actions of your son, Jesus.
Guide me to make sacrifices this Lent
in the spirit of self-denial
and with greater attention to you
and to those around me.
Help me to believe that you will grant me this
because of the sacrifice Jesus made for me.