My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things. I firmly resolve, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in His name, my God, have mercy.
Often times we struggle to believe that God will have mercy on us. He knows our sins better than we do and, knowing those sins, we wonder how anyone could possible forgive us and show us mercy.
Perhaps what we struggle with more than receiving God’s mercy is being merciful towards ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. We are the first to remember our sins and our failings. Someone once asked me what I thought their biggest flaw was. When they asked me, all I could think of were my sins and my flaws, so much so that I nearly burst into tears. Even when that person told me what they thought their biggest flaw was, all I could think of was how much worse my flaws and sins were. I easily showed that person mercy but was so much slower to show that same mercy to myself.
“My sins are worse. I am more flawed. I don’t deserve their mercy.”
Jesus tells us to love others and He loves us. He is merciful toward us, therefore we should be merciful to others. Why shouldn’t we, then, be merciful toward ourselves? When we fail to forgive ourselves and show ourselves mercy, we, in effect, deny ourselves the fullness of His mercy. He never withholds His mercy from us, but we have to be willing to receive it. In order to fully and completely receive His mercy, we have to be merciful towards ourselves.
In confession for the same reason you were there yesterday? Fall off the wagon after nearly a year?Gossiped again? It doesn’t matter to God. What matters is a contrite heart, a heart willing to get up and try again. What matters is that you receive His forgiveness and mercy, and that you have mercy on yourself.
“Praise the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever; Praise the God of gods; for his mercy endures forever; Praise the Lord of lords; for his mercy endures forever…” – Psalm 136:1-3 (check out the whole psalm here.)