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Be Genuine — Great Lenten Metanoia Project!

February 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Joseph Hollcraft, Lent, Spiritual Direction

Great Lenten Metanoia Project!

[Recently] I received a phone call from a friend who wanted to talk about the nature of repentance. It was a life-giving conversation. Last night, I received a phone call from someone, unrelated to the call the night before, who wanted to talk about, well — repentance. Clearly, people are interested in this all important word that is essential to our conversion and transformation in Christ (cf. Mt 3:8, 11; Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3, 8, 5:32, 15:7, 24:47).

Repentance comes from the Greek metanoia, which literally translates a “change of mind”–a conversion of heart away from sin and towards God.

Be Genuine PrayerAHermitPrayingGerardDou009

Be Genuine “A Hermit Praying” by Gerard Dou

In order for this twofold movement of contrition and resolve to effect change, it must be genuine; lest we go through the motions of appearing contrite (sorry for our sin), and actual resolve to change never matures into much of anything. Being genuine is to be honest with who we are in our nature. The word itself comes from the Latin genuinus, which best translates as “native, natural, and innate”. The person who is genuine, is innately aware of original sin (inclination to sin due to our fallen nature), and by the grace of God, comes to grips with their need for God. The root word to the aforementioned genuinus is genu, which translates as “knee”. On bended knee we will abide in all that is genuine–never judging ourselves to be smaller or larger than we actually are, but seeing ourselves for who we are—sinners in need of a Savior; sons and daughters of God, by virtue of grace, loved by God. Essentially, being genuine is to be humble and honest.

Honesty abides in the virtue of truthfulness. To be truthful is to speak about something for what it is, according to how we see it and understand it. There is no second step towards being genuine, without the first step of being truthful. No truthfulness, no subsequent steps that effect change.  For example, if I have an addiction to alcohol, and claim that I do not have an addiction to alcohol, I will never take the necessary steps to overcome my addiction to alcohol. My first step in overcoming my addiction to alcohol is to admit that I have an addiction to alcohol.

In the broader entertainment context, I have never known a professional athlete, musician, or actor, who in the absence of being truthful about what they needed to work on to hone their craft, was successful in their profession. The likes of a Tom Brady, Taylor Swift, and Meryl Streep, are successful in their craft to the extent they identify what they need to work on, and accordingly, put forth the effort to work on it.

Likewise, if we are going to go deeper in the spiritual life, we must be truthful about those aspects of our life that we need to change. Then, and only then, can we take the necessary steps to be changed for the better. Being genuine always includes being truthful.

Only genuine contrition–contrition that abides in the humble, honest, and truthful heart, awakens the soul in its depth.

By way of closing reflection, let us ask ourselves a couple of questions: How many times have we said, “I am sorry”, and without really meaning it, grow distant in our relationships? Conversely, how many times have we said, “I am sorry”, and with meaning it, have grown closer in our relationships. In other words, when saying, “I am sorry”, we must mean what we say and say what we mean, if we are going to draw closer in our relationships. And if we wish to advance in our relationship with Jesus Christ, going deeper in the spiritual life, we must say, “I am sorry”, and mean it. Genuine resolve is at stake!


Art: A Hermit Praying, Gerrit Dou, between 1645 and 1675, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

Editor’s Note: Click here if you would like to read more posts on our site by Dr. Joseph Hollcraft.

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About Joseph Hollcraft

Over the past thirteen years, Dr. Joseph Hollcraft has taught at the Middle School, High School, and University level. Founder of Seeds of Truth Ministries, Joseph is an Adjunct Professor to the Avila Institute and host to the Seeds of Truth Radio program. Seeds of Truth airs daily to the north state of California and can be found as an iTunes Podcast where it reaches thousands of listeners in over 40 countries. In his first book with Emmaus Road, A Heart for Evangelizing, Dr. Hollcraft reflects into the principles of spiritual and pastoral theology, and its impact upon the new evangelization. Joseph has also been published with the likes of The Catechetical Review and the Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Joseph earned his B.A. and M.A. from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and received his Ph.D. from Graduate Theological Foundation with studies being completed at Oxford University. Most importantly, Joseph is a devoted husband and father. He lives in Chico, California with his beautiful wife Jackie, and their four children: Kolbe, Avila, Isaac, and Siena.

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  • Susan J Melkus

    This is very good, but one thing even better than saying “I’m sorry” is saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” THAT is the key to humility and admitting that we were wrong and need someone’s forgiveness. Anyone can say “I’m sorry” and not mean it. Adding “please forgive me” is quite a bit more and can only come from someone who “means” they’re sorry. Asking forgiveness I *guess* can not be meant, too, but I think it would be much harder to say/ask if one doesn’t mean it. Just my 2 cents. JMJ we love you, save souls!

    • LizEst

      I’m sorry is, of course, the first step. But, many batterers also say please forgive me over and over and over again. So, there is nothing transformative about either of those phrases, unless what is on one’s lips matches what is in one’s heart. It’s the conversion of heart that is key. God bless you, Susan…and happy and holy Lent to you and yours!

  • Kimberly Walker

    I am truly touched by this devotion. Thank you. I hope there will be more of the same. This is an area I struggle. I pray for a broken and contrite heart – but it is not always so.

    The detail in Gerard Dou’s artwork is breathtaking!

    I cannot remember who it is that I read once that talked about this topic, but he suggested 3 things that create an honest conversation in the area of seeking forgiveness:
    1.) Clearly naming the offense. Saying: “I’m sorry for_______ ” (yelling at you, lying, stealing from you)
    2.) Naming the ways you believe you have trespassed against the person with your actions. “I am asking forgiveness for________” (betraying our friendship, betraying your trust, deceiving you, disrespecting you, humiliating you….)
    3.) Humbly seek to restore what has been broken. Ask: “How can I make this right with you? Is there anything I can do to restore the relationship?”

    All too often when I have harmed someone with my sin I run to them only to say I am sorry so that I, mySELF, can feel better, rather than to bring healing and restoration to the one I have offended. It takes an honest desire to be restored to the Father in order to reach out to one of His children with a holy motive in this matter.

    • LizEst

      Excellent observations, Kimberly. Thank you for sharing. May the Lord bless you and grant you increase this Lent.

      By the way, since you commented on the artwork, in case you don’t know–and for others who may read this, to see the art in greater detail, click on the picture itself. When you are done viewing it, click on the arrow next to the url at the top of the page. It will bring you back to this original page for the article.

      • Kimberly Walker

        🙂 I had just clicked on it, saved it, and made this picture my desktop background before reading this. Great minds …..

        • LizEst

          Must have been the Holy Spirit! To God be the glory…now and forever!

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