On True Contrition for Sin.

On True Contrition 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.

On True Contrition for Sin.

Once more place before you the image of the prodigal son entering into himself. Realize his profound, bitter sorrow and contrition, observe that he no longer considers himself worthy to be called a “son”; see how keenly he feels, how truly he means what he says, when with tears he exclaims: “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee”; and then the desire will probably awaken within your heart to be like the prodigal in his repentance, as you were like him in his sin.

1st. Consider: What is contrition? The sacred Council of Trent thus defines it: “Contrition is a sorrow of the soul and an abhorrence of past sins, with the firm resolve to sin no more in future.” Consider these several characteristics of contrition one by one. Sorrow above all is essential to contrition; that is, not a passing emotion, but a real affliction of soul, which is based upon the detestation, the abhorrence wherewith sin inspires us. Only that which is most repugnant to us, and which we would consequently right gladly thrust far from us really causes us pain. Contrite sorrow is therefore in the first place hatred, abhorrence of sin. But whoso is sorry for sin, and hates and loathes his sin, is as a matter of course determined not to commit it again, for to do so would prove that he did not hate, but loved it. True contrition is therefore a resolute turning away of the will from sins which have been or may be committed, united to grief of soul. Thus the main point in contrition consists in the attitude of the will, not the state of the feelings; in hatred and loathing, not in effusive tears. “If sin is displeasing to thee,” says a great master of the spiritual life, “because thou hast thereby offended God, thou hast true contrition. As regards the other emotions (sensible grief, tears, sighs, etc.) which take their rise in the sensitive part of our nature, accept them gratefully, if God is pleased to grant them to thee; but let it not disquiet thee, if thou hast them not, for God does not require of thee what is beyond thy power to give. But what He does demand from thee, and what is entirely within thy power to produce, is that sorrow which is the result of a firm determination never to offend against Him again.” Think over these words, and learn how to awaken true contrition of heart.

2d. Consider that what is primarily and principally calculated to excite this contrition within us, and lead us to conceive this hatred and abhorrence of sin, is the consideration of the loathsomeness of sin. “Sin,” says the holy Archbishop Antony, “is so utterly foul, that in comparison with it any bodily defilement such as leprosy, festering sores, nay the most disgusting carrion or the filth of a whole world is as nothing in the sight of God and His saints.” “Did men but know,” says St. Gregory, “how horrible are the wounds inflicted on the soul, how horribly disfigured the soul is in God’s eyes by one mortal sin, he would struggle against it even to death.” My soul, have you never had a purulent ulcer on your body, have you never seen a partly decomposed body? What a loathsome sight it presented, how disgusting the effluvium from it! Now sin is a spiritual ulcer, and the soul that is tainted with mortal sin resembles a decomposed corpse. Look at a godly, virtuous young man, and contrast his healthy, blithe, pleasing appearance, the innocent expression of his bright, clear eyes, with the distorted, bloated features of one who is addicted to vice, already branded with the mark of reprobation, whose ruined health and diseased body, corrupt even before death, are a true index to the horrible state of his soul in consequence of mortal sin. “Woe to you, miserable mortal,” cries St. Bernard, “for thou hast painted over the image of God with the likeness of the devil.” “Behold, O Christian soul,” such is the exhortation St. Bonaventure gives us, “in how fair and comely a form God created thee! See how He adorned thee with gifts of grace yet more lovely and precious than those of nature; now look at thyself and see how hideous thou hast become because of sin!” Meditate frequently, my soul, on the abominable nature of sin until it sickens you, and then perhaps you may learn truly to hate and abhor it.

3d. Consider yet another motive to lead you to true contrition, that is the fatal consequences of sin. It was this that first brought the prodigal son to repentance. Sin is not only odious in itself but terrible in its consequences. Not only does it rob the soul of her supernatural beauty, it also closes against her the golden gates of paradise, and precipitates her into the abyss of hell. One single mortal sin will counteract all the exertions, annihilate the results of a lifelong struggle; nay, the bitter Passion of Jesus Christ, His precious blood, His cruel death, are null and void, as far as you are concerned, if you are guilty of one mortal sin. God, the most merciful, the most bountiful. the most loving God, sees His only-begotton Son suffering, bleeding, dying for you, and yet He is compelled to sentence you to everlasting damnation, if you die in mortal sin. Those are only the eternal consequences of sin. Let us glance briefly at its temporal consequences. St. Laurence Justinian says that no words can express the deadly nature of sin. Sin once overspread the earth and destroyed the whole human race, with the exception of eight persons. Sin drew down fire from heaven, on the cities of Sodom, and because of it they and all their inhabitants were burnt up. Sin was the cause for which the earth opened and swallowed up Core, Dathan and Abiron alive. Why, O man, dost thou complain of misfortunes, sickness, persecution, poverty, misery and want? These are all only the consequences of sin! How indeed is it that we can tolerate for an instant anything so fatally hurtful to us that we do not feel the utmost detestation and abhorrence of this evil thing, that it does not cause us acute pain to have stained our heaven-born, beauteous soul, cleansed in the blood of Christ, with what is so hateful in itself so ruinous and destructive to ourselves?

Consider this well, and then pray with the Psalmist: “Give us for our drink tears in measure” that we may bewail our sins in deep contrition of heart.

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.

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October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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