In his comment earlier today, Liam commended the Act of Hope. It’s certainly a prayer for any time, but in connection with Lent, reconciliation, and the saving grace of Jesus, it may be particularly appropriate now:
O my God,
relying on your infinite mercy and promises,
I hope to obtain pardon of my sins,
the help of your grace,
and life everlasting,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Redeemer.
When I began my Catholic journey in sixth grade in 1969, I remember a plethora of “acts.” My young pagan mind didn’t differentiate much between them. I certainly knew what “contrition” and “hope” and “faith” were. I knew what an “act” was, even in context of prayer.
When I “rediscovered” this prayer some years ago, it quickly became a “new” favorite. As I look at it today, my eye is drawn to two words, promises and merits.
For some people, promises are a hard thing. People break promises. People we love do not keep to their word. And once that pattern is established, how can a human body react to the promises (Jer 29:11-14, etc.) of God?
The only thing I can suggest is openness to the experience of God in the world. Can we trust the sun will rise? Can we trust the natural vista on the next trail break? Can we trust an outbreak of cheer or joy in a child? Can we begin to look for these in our own lives?
And what drives our salvation? The merits of Jesus, according to this prayer. What are these? The big picture would be the Paschal Mystery, his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. But small things also reveal the merit of our Lord. He accompanies us. He touches us at opportune moments. He whispers in our ear. He nudges us to a better path.
Are these small things to be found in the physical universe? Perhaps. But they are also geared to the senses of the heart. Human beings are made to attend to the quiet moments when a suggestion tickles our mind and heart. Lent is designed for greater attention to these.