Chapter 49 - Lent

This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge in evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. RB 49:4

When we reflect our true being before God and glimpse what we might be, we can be jarred from our willingness to just drift along. By our own awareness of complacency we can be startled into action.

Michael Casey, OCSO, says that compunction has a dual sensitivity. It places before us both the reality of our sinful condition and the urgency of our desire to be fully in union with God. It is precisely the comparison between what we are and what we could be that is the cause of compunction. It is an intimate sensation which touches us at our deepest level and often results in tears. (The Undivided Heart: “Benedict’s Approach to Prayer,” p. 18-34 - St. Bede’s Publications)

Perhaps Benedict is suggesting that “compunction of heart” can awaken in us a true sense of how false we have been to our own deepest self and our own likeness to God in whose image we were created.

Perhaps Benedict is saying that our personal prayer will be intimate when it is springing from love and an overwhelming realization of God’s love.