Sorrow and Repentance for Sin
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Sorrow and Repentance for Sin
A heartfelt and supernatural sorrow is an indispensable condition for the pardon of sin. By supernatural sorrow we mean a sorrow inspired by motives of faith, and which has some reference to Almighty God and our eternal salvation. The reason of this is that God never has pardoned, and by an unchangeable decree has bound Himself never to pardon anyone, unless the person first repent of his misdeeds from motives of this character. Suffice it to observe, that Baptism itself, which is endowed with efficacy to impart a new life to souls which are not only dead, but which have become corrupt in every vice, requires, as St. Thomas teaches, for a previous disposition of the soul to its reception, sorrow for sins committed. Hence it has been said by St. Ambrose, “that repentance is as needful for him that confesses, as the surgeon’s art is for a wounded man.” And he infers that “since after Baptism we have no other remedy left us for our sins but repentance, as all are convinced, we should strive after it with all our might, whatever it may cost us of trouble and painstaking” (Ad Virg. Lapsam, Cap. 7).
St. Gregory states most positively that “the sign of a good, valid, and fruitful Confession is not the multitude of words spoken by the tongue, but the sorrow that comes from the heart, and him alone may we judge to be converted and to have made a good Confession, who strives to blot out by heartfelt sorrow those sins of which his tongue makes the outward avowal” (Lib. VI, in I Regum, Cap. 15).
And commenting on the warning of St. John the Baptist, “Bring forth fruits worthy of penance” (Matt. viii, 8), the same holy Doctor observes, that in Confession, words are but as shoots and leaves, but that the fruit consists in sorrow of the soul; that the verbal confession of sin is to be valued only inasmuch as it is the expression of a true and heartfelt repentance. He further adds, that as our Blessed Lord cursed the barren fig-tree, which, though having much load of branches and leaves, yet bore no fruit, so does He likewise reject and abhor such Confessions as abound in the foliage, so to speak of unnecessary words, but are barren of the fruit of efficacious contrition. Sorrow, and great sorrow, is what is needed, not long explanations and needless details, if Confession is to restore the sinner to grace, and if devout persons are to acquire by its means that purity of heart which is so necessary for the attainment of Christian perfection. Confession unless accompanied with an efficacious repentance, joined to a firm and earnest purpose of amendment, will not avail to cleanse the soul from its stains, nor produce reform of life: nor will it help them to acquire that purity of conscience which is so necessary for such as would make progress in Christian perfection. St. Augustine is most explicit on this point. He says that without true repentance there never can be a real change of life whether the sins we commit be great or small (Ep. ad Vincentium); (Scaramelli, Vol. I, Section I, Article viii, Cap. II).
What St. Paula was accustomed to do is precisely the practice that St. John Chrysostom recommends to devout persons, to cleanse, that is, their souls by continual sorrow and unceasing tears, from the defilement of sin, never to interrupt this holy mourning, so as to become more and more pure in themselves, and more and more pleasing in the sight of God, “for as the face by frequent washing is cleansed from dirt, so by frequently having the soul in tears of compunction, we cleanse it from the stains it has contracted, and which, through frailty are always accumulating upon it” (St. John Chrysostom. In Genes. Hom. 21). To this holy David alludes when he says, “Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 50, v, 4, 5). He entertained a steadfast hope of having being cleansed already by the tears of his bitter repentance yet not content with this, he continued to weep, in order, by continual tears and unceasing contrition, to attain a more thorough purification.
But the saints were not content with weeping for their own sins, they also wept for the sins of others and the sins of the world. A bride who tenderly loves her husband grieves not only at the displeasure she herself may have caused him, but also at the offences committed against him by any one else. Thus, too, one who loves God feels hurt, not only at his own sins, but at those of others, and mourns over them, seeing that they too are offences against his beloved Lord. Such was the loving sorrow of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, of whom Holy Church tells us that she wept bitterly over the crimes of sinners and unbelievers, and offered to undergo every kind of torture for their salvation (In Festo, 25 Maii).
Thus, too, St. Teresa, of whom the Church likewise bears witness that she shed continual tears over the darkness of unbelievers and heretics, and that in order to appease the divine wrath she offered to God for their salvation, the penances which she voluntarily inflicted upon her own innocent flesh (In Festo, 15 Octobris).
This has been, and still is, the daily practice of souls that truly love God, and we must do likewise if the love of Almighty God burns within our breasts (Scaramelli, Vol. I, Section I, Article iii, Chap. VII).
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– by Rev. P. Ryan
– Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur October 10, 1910
Mary’s sorrow was less when she saw her only Son crucified, than it is now at the sight of man offending Him by sin. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Nolarci.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
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