SOME HINTS ON PRAYER, Part IV
[continued from yesterday]
...In most things in life, and in prayer not least of all, it is not so much what a man can do that is his true measure, but rather what with all his heart he aspires to do; human nature is surrounded with too many obstacles, is weighed down with too many burdens of all kinds, is of itself too weak and faltering, to be a true gauge of the workings of that inner self which, after all, is the true man.
We aspire to higher and better things; we make the effort to rise to them; by word and deed we encourage ourselves in our endeavour; in the end we may fail, or may seem to fail, but God has seen our heart, and our effort, as well as our apparent failure, and knows that the evil we do is not the whole story of ourselves.
In the second place this very suspicion is in itself a sure sign of progress. The man who makes an Act of Contrition without any thought whether he means it or not, who learns little of himself from repeated falls and infidelities, who trusts himself this time, as he has often done before, without much intention of greater effort, is in a far more evil plight than the man who knows his weakness, and who can do little more than look up to heaven and cry: "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!" - Yes, even though while he cries he trembles for himself in the future.
For a perfect Act of Contrition the main point is to be utterly sincere, or as sincere as we can make ourselves, at the moment that we pray; this sincerity, forcing our heart to correspond with our words, is the chief object at which we have aimed in these instructions. It may be well, then, to analyse an Act of Contrition in this light, in order both that we may the more clearly discover our own sincerity, and that we may be the more thorough in our contrition in the future....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918