Finding Perfect Contrition For My Sins

How does one define or execute sorrow for one’s sins?  After several meditations on the subject, I began to question my resolve for my sorrow for my sins.  I found that perfect contrition for my sins would take me to a place that I have not dared to go yet.

So, it started with my meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday during my new daily Rosary devotion.  One recommended method of meditation is to place one’s self at the scene of each mystery prayed and imagine to be either a bystander watching the actual event unfold, or to put oneself in the place of one of the actual participants, e.g. Mary, an Apostle, a soldier, or even Jesus Himself.  That I did last night, but in these turbulent 5 stations in our Lord’s crucifixion, I chose to put myself in Jesus’ place.

My first feeling was one of submission.  I couldn’t do it.  As I considered the immense level of torture and abuse that Jesus endured for us, just in the Scourging and Crowning of Thorns mystery events alone, I had to step out of character.   As Jesus responded to James and John, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”[1]  At each decade’s Mystery, I found that I could not.  Jesus’ torture at every step was more than I could bear or even coming close to fathoming what he went through.

I could feel the first layer, as His body was brutally scourged.  I could feel the recoil of His body from the vicious lashes.  But as I tried to go deeper, I could not get to that second level of the contact of the jagged edges of the whip roping hitting and tearing into my external being.  Maybe it was Jesus saying, “You’re not ready yet; don’t go there now.”  I had to step back out.

In the same vein, I looked back to my visits to the Confessional and my examinations of conscience.  I found a same phenomenon as I contemplated the effects of my sins being confessed.  As my meditation during the Sorrowful Mysteries, I could only peer at the tip of the sin iceberg.  As I tried to make my mind travel down to the essence of my sins, I found a similar result, I had to pull back.  I could not fathom the full effect of my sin on Jesus.  I falsely resigned that that the sins I committed couldn’t be all that bad because I am a good person.  Bad sins are for those other sinners, right?

My sin contemplation closely parallels the Rosary meditation.  I found during my Rosary meditation, as I got deeper towards the reception of the scourging blow, I began to see my face shift from me being Jesus receiving the blows and began to see my face show up on the soldier’s face that was metering out the blow. It was my sins, along with all others from humanity past, present and future, that put Jesus on the cross in the first place.  I could begin to feel my arm, intertwined with the arms of all humanity, reach back ready to exact its next blow.  I had to pull my mind out of both meditations – my sins and Sorrowful Mysteries – because I began to see my role in the Crucifixion story.  It hurt and was a frightening place for my mind to go and dwell.

Here is the good news.  Even though I sin continuously, Jesus still loves me, forgives my sins.  His cross at Cavalry still keeps the doors of Heaven open for me.  Even though I fail to see the gravity of my transgressions which diminishes the level of sorrow and resolve to stop committing them, Jesus still loves me, forgives my sins.  His cross at Cavalry still keeps the doors of Heaven wide open for me.

I still need to travel that deeper road to experience the gravity of my sins, to gain a higher level of contriteness, to aspire to make amends for my sins and resolve to not sin again.  It is obvious that I have not totally accepted Jesus in my life yet.  I do not totally understand and fathom the great prize that awaits me.  If I did, I know that I would spare no expense to keep my soul pure.  If I only fathomed the prize, the pearl of great price, that is mine for the asking, my life would be transformed from where I am today.  To get there, I need to realize and resolve that I am a sinner and my sins greatly offend Jesus.  Even though He still loves me infinitely, I need to do my part to say yes to Him – not just a little, not half way there (lukewarm).  I need to be all in – burning hot for Jesus.   Jesus, I am heartfully sorry for offending thee.  Amen.

[1] Mark 10:38

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