Tag Archives: contrition



281. What is the Sacrament of Penance [Reconciliation] ?

Penance is a Sacrament whereby the sins, whether mortal or venial, which we have committed after Baptism are forgiven.

282. Does the Sacrament of Penance increase the grace of God in the soul?

The Sacrament of Penance increases the grace of God in the soul, besides forgiving sin; we should, therefore, often go to confession.

283. When did our Lord institute the Sacrament of Penance?

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he breathed on his Apostles and gave them power to forgive sins, saying: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.’ (Jn20:23)

284. How does the priest forgive sins?

The priest forgives sins by the power of God, when he pronounces the words of absolution.

285. What are the words of absolution?

The words of absolution are: ‘I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’.

286. Are any conditions for forgiveness required on the part of the penitent?

Three conditions for forgiveness are required on the part of the penitent – Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction.

287. What is Contrition?

Contrition is a heartfelt sorrow for our sins, because by them we have offended so good a God, together with a firm purpose of amendment.

288. What is a firm purpose of amendment?

A firm purpose of amendment is a resolution to avoid, by the grace of God, not only sin, but also the dangerous occasion of sin.

289. How may we obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins?

We may obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.

290. What consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that by our sins we have offended God, who is infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us.

291. What consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that our Saviour died for our sins, and that those who sin grievously ‘have wilfully crucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.’ (Heb6:6)

292. Is sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserved hell, sufficient when we go to confession?

Sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserve hell, is sufficient when we go to confession.

293. What is perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising purely from the love of God.

294. What special value has perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition has this special value; that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to confess them afterwards.

295. What is confession?

Confession is to accuse ourselves of our sins to a priest approved by the Bishop.

296. What if a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession?

If a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession he is guilty of a great sacrilege, by telling a lie to the Holy Spirit in making a bad confession.

297. How many things have we to do in order to prepare for confession?

We have four things to do in order to prepare for confession: first, we must heartily pray for grace to make a good confession: secondly, we must carefully examine our conscience: thirdly, we must take time and care to make a good act of contrition: and fourthly, we must resolve by the help of God to renounce our sins, and to begin a new life for the future.

298. What is satisfaction?

Satisfaction is doing the penance given us by the priest.

299. Does the penance given by the priest always make full satisfaction for our sins?

The penance given by the priest does not always make full satisfaction for our sins. We should therefore add to it other good works and penances, and try to gain Indulgences.

300. What is an Indulgence?

An Indulgence is a remission, granted by the Church, of the temporal punishment which often remains due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven.

– From the Penny Catechism, Imprimatur: John Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, 18th July 1971





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By St John Vianney

Our great enemy

“Sin is the executioner of the good God, and the assassin of our souls. Sin is it, which snatches us from heaven to cast us into hell. And yet we love it! What folly! If we reflected well upon it, we should have such horror of sin that we would not commit it.

O my children, how ungrateful we are! God wishes us to be happy, and we will not! We turn from Him and give ourselves to the demon! We fly from our friend and seek the executioner!

We commit sin; we bury ourselves in the more, and once caught there we cannot rise. If it was a question of our worldly fortune, we should contrive to escape from the difficulty; but as it concerns only our soul, we stay there.

I am going to the same place as you, to be crucified anew

What has God done to us, then, that we afflict Him thus, even crucifying Him again in a sense – Him, Who has redeemed us from hell? If all sinners, when betaking ourselves to their guilty pleasures, met Our Lord on the way as Saint Peter did, and if He said to them: ‘I am going to the same place as you, to be crucial died there anew’ – perhaps that would make them reflect a little.

Oh! how insensate we are! We employ in damning ourselves the time which God has given us to save our souls! We make war on Him with the instruments He has given us for His service!

Is it not utter folly to earn hell, by allying ourselves with the devil, in preference to tasting even in this life the joys of heaven, by uniting ourselves to God in love? It is impossible to fully comprehend such madness, or to bewail it sufficiently.”

– St John Vianney

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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Words of Wisdom


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“QUESTION: I commit sin so often that I feel these sins are a barrier between myself and God and while I want God to be part of my life I feel He is excluded and kept away from me by my sins.

ANSWER: There are many people who think like you and are tempted to despair at times, but sins and failures and moral weaknesses are not in themselves a barrier to God. The Gospel tells us how those who were opposed to Jesus accused Him of eating and drinking with sinners – of being in the company of sinners. Jesus Himself said He came to save sinners.

Our God is a God of the weak, of those who fail and who depend on Him to give them strength. This does not mean that He loves those who fail more than others but rather that He helps them more because He sees and understands their need.

St Paul boasted of his weakness, because as he says ‘when I am weak then I am strong,’ – strong with the strength of God who helps him in his weakness. Our Lord reassures that ‘my power is at its best in weakness.’

If we acknowledge our weakness before God then we give God room to work and to help us grow and mature as Christians.”
– This article was published in “Saint Martin Magazine” issue May 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


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“‘What wouldst thou have me do for thee?’ This is the question which Jesus put to the blind man who besought mercy of our Lord as He passed by on His way to Jerusalem. It was a breath-taking question. It was a blank check on the infinite power of God. ‘Anything you want you may have,’ Jesus is saying. ‘What is your choice?’

The blind man had his answer ready. He was obsessed by a single consuming desire – to be able to gaze upon the world about him. ‘Lord, that I may see!’ he begged. Instantly his prayer was granted. ‘Receive thy sight,’ Jesus replied, ‘thy faith has saved thee.’


If Jesus suddenly were to appear before us with a similar question, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ what would our answer be? Better health? Success on the job? Money to pay off the bills? Solution of a personal or family problem?

It is to be hoped that we would have the discernment to pass over all such lesser needs and to ask for the gift which surpasses all others in importance: the grace of final perseverance, the grace of a happy death. ‘Lord, that I may love You, and love You to the end!’ This surely would be our answer if we had but one opportunity to draw upon God’s bounty.

Fortunately we are not limited to one opportunity. Jesus does not appear visibly before us, but His ears are permanently attuned to us. His invitation is never withdrawn, His benevolence is never exhausted. ‘What wouldst thou have me do for thee?’


God knows our wants, of course, even better than we know them ourselves. It would seem that in temporal matters the more perfect prayer of petition would be simply, ‘Give me whatever You know to be best for me, Lord; whatever is most in accord with Your will.’

Still, it pleases God to have us turn to Him in our particular needs. In every prayer of petition there is an implied act of adoration. By our requests we acknowledge God’s infinite goodness and power. We would not be turning to Him if we did not believe He cares for us and that He can help us.


If our entreaty is to be effective, however, it must also include an acknowledgement of God’s infinite wisdom. We must concede that, in the end, only God knows what is best for us and for those whose lives are intertwined with ours. His must be the final decision as to whether another grace must be substituted instead.


As we well know, petitions are the least essential of our prayers. In the hierarchy of importance, prayers of adoration are at the top of the list. These are the prayers in which we salute God’s infinite greatness and holiness. We concede our own nothingness apart from Him. We assure Him of our faith in Him, our trust in Him and, above all, of our love for Him.

Next come prayers of thanksgiving for the love and the care which God has lavished upon us. Adoration and gratitude then naturally lead to prayers of contrition, as we grieve for our pettiness and our disobedience to a God so holy and good.

It is only after these three steps that we are prepared for prayer of petition. This does not mean that every time we give ourselves to prayer we must mechanically tick off praise, thanksgiving and contrition before daring to ask God for anything. It means only that we must maintain a sense of proportion in our prayers and not think that when we have asked for our daily bread, we can let the rest of the Lord’s prayer go by the board.


In our petitions, too, there is a gradation of importance. Unselfish prayers, prayers offered for the needs of other persons, are especially pleasing to God. In praying for ourselves, it is our spiritual petitions which God most welcomes. When we plead, ‘Please, God, help me to keep from sin.’ ‘Please, God, help me to do Your will always,’ or ‘Please, God, help me to grow in love for You,’ there is no need to add the condition, ‘If it be Thy will’. In such petitions, we KNOW that our will is at one with God’s. Offered with sincerity and perseverance, these requests infallibly will be granted.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966


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“…’With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption’. Let us prayerfully reflect on what some people have said about the mercy of God:

‘The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.’ (Pope Francis)

‘The practice of the Jesus prayer is simple. Stand before the Lord with the attention in the heart, and call to Him: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!’ The essential part of this is not in the words, but in faith, contrition, and self-surrender to the Lord.’ (Theophan the Recluse – 19th century Russian monk)

‘We have dared to attempt our work of perfection, relying not on our own deeds and strength but on the power and mercy of God.’ (Paulinus of Nola – 5th century Italian Bishop)

‘I had many friends to help me fall; but as to rising again, I was left to myself, that I wonder now I was not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only who stretched out His hand to me. May He be blessed forever! Amen.’ (St Teresa of Avila)

‘Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.’ (St John Vianney)

‘Look I am going to play the part of God and seat myself on the throne of judgement. What do you want me to do for you, then? If you say, ‘Have mercy on me’, God says to you, ‘If you want me to have mercy on you, do you also have mercy on your brother; if you want me to forgive you, do you also forgive your neighbour.’ (Anonymous desert father of the early church)

‘God’s ways are always truth and justice and mercy.’ (Yves Congar – French Dominican theologian).”
– From “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”


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“During this Lenten journey we look to St Peter as well as to St Paul, for he too experienced a profound conversion. Peter betrayed Jesus. Yet he repented, turned back to his Lord and shed tears of sorrow. Then he was able to express fresh and lasting love for Our Lord and carry out his great ministry of leadership.

Through the ministry of the Church, first entrusted to Peter, we too can be reconciled to our loving Lord after our betrayals of him. We too can shed tears of repentance and express our new love for him. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the means God has given us: a plank of salvation after the shipwreck of our sin. Through our contrition, confession and satisfaction we are given new life.

Do receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, before Easter.”
– From “A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets please visit (external link).


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Begin by making the Sign of the Cross, saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”, in order to honour and invoke the all-powerful Holy Trinity and also to recall our Saviour Jesus Christ’s loving sacrifice on the Cross which He did for us all to be saved.

Before each psalm you pray this antiphon: “Remember not, O Lord, our or our parents’ offences: neither take vengeance of our sins.” After the last of the seven psalms, pray: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” Finish your prayer with the Sign of the Cross as in the beginning, to thank the Holy Trinity and to thank our Lord Jesus for His suffering on the Cross for love of us, our ancestors and all mankind.


O Lord, in your anger do not reprove; nor punish me in your fury. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have no strength left. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in torment. My soul also is greatly troubled. How long, O Lord, how long? How long will you be? Come back to me, O Lord, save my life; rescue me for the sake of your love. For no one remembers you in the grave; who will praise you in the world of the dead?

I am weary with moaning; I weep every night, drenching my bed with tears. My eyes have grown dim from troubles; I have weakened because of my foes. Away from me, you evildoers, for the Lord has heard my plaintive voice. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will grant all that I pray for. Let my enemies fall back in shame, all of a sudden – the whole bunch of them!


Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit. When I kept my sin secret, my body wasted away, I was moaning all day long. Your hand day and night lay heavy upon me; draining my strength, parching my heart as in the heat of a summer drought. Then I made known to you my sin and uncovered before you my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And you, you forgave my sin, you removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to you in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them. You are my refuge; you protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will teach you, I will show you the way to follow. I will watch over you and give you counsel. Do not be like the horse or the mule – senseless and led by bit and bridle. Many woes befall the wicked, but the Lord’s mercy enfolds those who trust in him. Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you who are upright; sing and shout for joy, you who are clean of heart.


O Lord, rebuke me not in your rage, punish me not in your fury. Your arrows have struck me; your hand has come down heavily upon me. Your anger has spared no part of my body, my sin gives no peace to my bones. For my transgressions overwhelm me; they weigh me down like an unbearable load. My wounds stink and fester within me, the outcome of my sinful folly. Stooped and bowed down, I go about mourning all day. My loins burn, my flesh is diseased, my body, worn out and utterly crushed; I groan in pain and anguish of heart. All my longing, O Lord, is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds as my strength ebbs; even the light has deserted my eyes. My friends avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far off. Those who seek my life lay snares for me; those who wish to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot against me all day long.

But like a deaf-mute, I neither hear nor open my mouth. I am like one whose ears hear not and whose mouth has no answer. For I put my trust in you, O Lord; you will answer for me, Lord God. I will pray, “Don’t let them gloat over me, nor take advantage of my helplessness when my foot slips. For I am about to fall, my pain is ever with me. I confess my transgression, I repent of my sin. Many are my foes; many are those who hate me for no reason, those who pay me evil for good and harass me because I seek good. Forsake me not, O Lord, stay not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my saviour!


Have mercy on me, O God, in your love. In your gret compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil. For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against you alone have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. You are right when you pass sentence and blameless in your judgment. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth, a sinner from my mother’s womb. I know you desire truth in my heart, teach me wisdom in my inmost being. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my offences. Create in me, O God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit.

Do not cast me out of your presence nor take your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers your ways and sinners will return to you. Deliver me, O God, from the guilt of blood, and of your justice I shall sing aloud. O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare your praise. You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, you would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart you will not despise. Shower Zion with your favour: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in fitting sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bulls offered on your altar.

PSALM 102:

O Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in trouble. Turn your ear to me; make haste to answer me when I call. For my days are passing away like smoke, my bones burning like a furnace. Like withered grass, my heart is blighted, and I forget to eat my bread. Because of my great grief I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the wilderness, like a vulture among the ruins. I awake moaning like a lonely bird on the housetop. All day long I am taunted by my enemies; they use my name as a curse. The bread I eat is ashes, my drink is mingled with tears, for your wrath, your fury; for you have thrown me aside. My days are vanishing like shadows at night; I wither away like grass. But you, O Lord, you sit forever; your name endures through all generations.

Arise, have mercy on Zion; this is the time to show her your mercy. For your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust. O Lord, the nations will revere your name, and the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all his splendour. For he will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea. Let this be written for future ages, “the Lord will be praised by a people he will form.” From his holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death. Then the name of the Lord will be cleared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship him. My walk has exhausted me, he has cut short my days. I cry to him, “My God, do not take my life in mid-course, you whose days are from age to age.” In the beginning you laid the earth’s foundation, the heavens are the work of your hands. Although they perish, you will remain; they will wear out like a garment, you change them like clothes: they pass away, but you remain the same, your years unending. Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail.

PSALM 130:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication. If you should mark our evil, O Lord, who could stand? But with you is forgiveness, and for that you are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in his word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn. O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with him is unfailing love and with him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

PSALM 143:

O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; answer me, you who are righteous and faithful. Do not bring your servant to judgment, for no mortal is just in your sight. The enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, sending me to darkness with those long dead. And so my spirit fails me, my heart is full of fear. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on what you have done and consider the work of your hand. I stretch out my hands to you, and thirst for you like a parched land.

O Lord, answer me quickly: my spirit is faint with yearning. Do not hide your face from me; save me from going down to the pit. Let the dawn bring me word of your love, for in you alone I put my trust. Show me the way I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for to you I flee for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your Spirit lead me on a safe path. Preserve me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; free me from distress, in your justice. You who are merciful, crush my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.


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