SOME HINTS ON PRAYER, Part IV
[continued from yesterday]
As has just been said, each of these is a test and proof of the sincerity of the rest.
Do I really acknowledge that what I have done is wrong? Then I shall be sorry for having done it; if I am not sorry, it is a sign I am not quite sincere in my acknowledgment.
Am I really sorry for what I have done? Then not only shall I wish I had not done it, but I shall determine that, so far as I am able, it shall not occur again.
Am I really determined it shall not occur again? Then I will go back to the beginning, look and see where the wrong came in, and take means that in the future it shall be eliminated; in other words I shall determine to avoid, not only sin, but also its occasions.
In this last lies the real test of our sincerity; if the determination does not reach as far as the occasions of sin, it is a sign we are not wholehearted in our condemnation of it, and therefore our contrition is not perfect.
That we may be the more sure of sincerity in our contrition, it will be found by experience that the deeper our motive the more true will contrition be.
Fear, for instance, will make us repent in some measure, but it will not touch the heart of the matter; that is why we speak of sorrow built on fear as imperfect contrition.
Sorrow founded on a sense of duty is better: founded on devotion it is better still; it is best of all when it is founded on the realisation of offended love. This is why so much depends on our attitude to God when we make our Act of Contrition; if we look upon Him as merely our Judge our contrition is of one kind, if as our lawful Master it is of another, if as our Leader it is yet a third; but it is best of all when we look upon Him as Love offended by what we have done - Love in Himself, Love in Friendship with ourselves, Love atoning for our deeds by enduring every stab they inflict....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918