February 23, 2012


There was a lot to strike--and even the pierce--the heart in the new prayers for Ash Wednesday yesterday, but I was grateful most of all for the Prayer over the People:

Pour out a spirit of compunction, O God, on those who bow before your majesty, and by your mercy may they merit the rewards you promise to those who do penance. Through Christ our Lord.

 But when...you see that your nature is still twisted and disfigured by selfishness and by the disorder of sin, and that you are cramped and warped by a way of living that turns you incessantly back upon your own pleasure and your own interest, and that you cannot escape this distortion: that you cannot even deserve to escape it, by your own power, what will your sorrow be? This is the root of what the saints called compunction: the grief, the anguish of being helpless to be anything but what you were not meant to be. (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 263)

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