“I would rather feel compunction than know its definition.” That’s an old saw from The Imitation of Christ, a book which is of greatest importance to Ignatian spirituality. Those of us who have made St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises, and have spent considerable time asking for the gift of sorrow for our sins, can appreciate the value of this little quip from the Imitation.
God has hidden some things from the wise and the learned but revealed them to the childlike (cf. Matthew 11:25). If you are wise and learned, you probably already know what the word “compunction” means without having to look up its definition, but you may find it harder to admit your own mistakes and to feel true compunction for them.
There are several childlike attitudes that are helpful in the Christian life. Of course, the ability to feel compunction and to say you are sorry and to mean it are big. Here is another childlike attitude: trust. It seems to be easier for children to trust other people. We must renew our trust in God the Father, and trust in Him like we were his children, for so we are.