A beautiful thought that asking forgiveness comes right up there with asking for our daily bread. In fact, you can juxtapose the two. Daily forgiveness is the spiritual daily sustenance we need. I need bread every day. I need forgiveness every day.

The two together remind us that asking forgiveness is a healthy and wholesome thing to do. So often Catholics are blamed for dishing out guilt to everyone. That is just about as silly as observing that people need to eat and so Catholics are to be blamed for hunger. Asking forgiveness is as natural and ordinary and healthy as going to get a snack.

When I ask forgiveness I immediately begin to co operate with God’s grace to fulfill the other requests of the Lord’s prayer. When I ask forgiveness I go, like the prodigal to the Father. When I ask forgiveness I acknowledge his holiness. When I ask forgiveness I submit myself to his grace and so help his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Asking forgiveness is therefore the gift of all the other requests, already finding their fulfillment and answer as I co operate with the action of God in the world.

Asking forgiveness is also happy and healthy because it is honest and humble. At that point I admit my fault, my sin, my most grievous sin and I realize immediately that I need God, and what could be more blessed than that? The Eastern Orthodox have a term for this which I have forgotten if I ever knew–but their idea is that the soul is closest to God not when he is aware of God’s presence, or when he is lost in mystic adoration or when he is consoled by the mercy and sweetness of God, but when he is genuinely at the turning point of repentance.

When I realize my sin and realize my need of God and truly ask for forgiveness–that’s when the soul makes a huge leap forward. Then in a moment of true humility and honesty–if even only for a moment–I am close to God the Father’s embrace. So locked in this little request at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the answer to the Lord’s prayer–the very beginning of all our our prayer, and also the exquisite end.