“Lift up your eyes to God on high and pray for your sins and negligences.” (IC 1,20,8) | “O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you. But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!” (Dn 9:8)

Kempis, continuing to rail against vanity and distractions in the spiritual life, implores his readers to pray to overcome sins of omission and commission (1,20).  Frequent examination of conscience, in a quiet place, helps one to make progress in virtue.

The Book of Daniel was written about a character who lived during the sixth century BC and was captured and taken from Jerusalem during the Babylonian exile (see here for more background).  In today’s excerpt (Dn 9:4b-10), Daniel, gleaning from Scripture the coming lengthy exile of the Israelites in his own time, petitions the Lord on behalf of the people, acknowledging their corporate sin and trusting in God’s “compassion and forgiveness” despite that.  The whole book is meant to be a consolation to second century Israelites living through their own persecution but helping them to realize that appealing to God in humility will eventually end their troubles, just as it happened time and again in the past.

We should not be surprised when our own sinfulness causes difficulties in our spiritual and physical lives.  The troubles that come our way that cause us to regret our shortfalls in our relationship to God are a gift in and of themselves: instead of wading deeper into sin we are given the stark realization of our dependence on God and thus the opportunity to extract ourselves from the morass and come back to the Lord in repentance.

Sin should make us shamefaced.  It should also drive us back to God in a prayer of sorrow and apology with a firm commitment to make amends and to avoid sin in the future, imploring God’s help (grace) to do so.  Scripture from beginning to end is a testament of God’s mercy and forgiveness (seven times infinity) for those who truly desire it.  No one is beyond God’s love — He Himself tells us through the Spirit and St. Paul that He “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).

Let’s not miss the opportunity no matter how bad we’ve been or how many times we ask.

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