Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
I think that we can learn a lot about what it means to truly repent from the witness of the king of Ninevah. Upon hearing that Ninevah will be destroyed in forty days because of the sinfulness of its citizens, the king proclaims a city-wide fast and humbles himself in sackcloth and ashes, repenting of his sinfulness even when it might seem like it’s too late. I try to go to Confession at least once a month, but I’m not sure I’ve ever repented with the humility of the king of Ninevah. It makes me think: when I go to Confession to repent of my sins, am I truly sorry for what I have done, or am I just motivated by a fear of hell or because I know a list of rights and wrongs?
Most of the time, I think it’s the latter. Sure, I’m sorry for my sins because I know that they’re wrong, but do I feel sorrow for the way that my sins have hurt God or my relationship with Him? And do I truly have a conviction to leave that confessional and NEVER commit that sin again?
In the Act of Contrition that I know by heart, it says “I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to SIN NO MORE, and to AVOID WHATEVER LEADS ME TO SIN.”
I’ve rattled off that prayer so many times, but have I ever truly meant those words? Or do I just have this expectation in the back of my head that says “yeah, sure, I don’t want to do that sin, but I’m probably gonna.” I’m not sure I’ve ever shown the same true repentance as that King of Ninevah.
During this time of Lent, we’re asked to focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three things, when taken seriously, should awaken all of us to our sinfulness and cultivate in us a spirit of true repentance. And often when that happens, it can be easy to be discouraged. But let us follow the example of the king of Ninevah, who said, “Who knows, God may relent and forgive.” As we continue on this walk in the desert of Lent, may we learn what it means to truly repent, but even more, what it means to throw ourselves into the arms of a merciful God who forgives every sin.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What do you think it means to repent? What does true repentance look like?
How will you grow in the virtue of humility during this Lenten season?
When was the last time you went to Confession and were truly sorry for your sins?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Have mercy on me, Lord."
"Help me to avoid whatever leads me to sin."
"I am sorry for my sins."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take time today to pray with the Act of Contrition and truly resolve to sin no more out of love for God and neighbor.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Catie Destatte, a St. Paul's Outreach Missionary at University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, MN.
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