Repentance or Penance is the Mystery in which we return to God, our Father. We resolve to change our life and confess our sins to a priest, who has been given the power and authority to absolve our sins committed after Baptism. Through him, we receive God’s forgiveness, grace and healing.
For guidance in making a good confession, open one of the following PDF files, or scroll down for a five step outline for the Mystery of Repentance.
Seven Psalms of Repentance
Prayer in time of distress
O Lord, do not reprove me in Your anger;* punish me not, in Your rage.
Have mercy on me, Lord, I have no strength;* Lord, heal me, my body is racked; my soul is racked with pain.
But You, O Lord… how long?* Return, Lord, rescue my soul.
Save me in Your merciful love; for in death no one remembers You;* from the grave, who can give You praise?
I am exhausted with my groaning;* every night I drench my pillow with tears; I bedew my bed with weeping.
My eye wastes away with grief;* all have grown old surrounded by my foes.
Leave me, all you who do evil;* for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;* the Lord will accept my prayer.
All my foes will retire in confusion,* foiled and suddenly confounded.
The joy of being forgiven
Blessed is the man whose offence is forgiven,* whose sin is remitted.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt,* in whose spirit is no guile.
I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.* I groan all day long,
For night and day Your hand* was heavy upon me.
Indeed, my strength was dried up* as by the summer’s heat.
But now I have acknowledged my sins;* my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess* my offence to the Lord.’
And You, Lord, have forgiven* the guilt of my sin.
So let every good man pray to You* in the time of need.
The floods of water may reach high* but him they shall not reach.
You are my hiding place, O Lord;* You save me from distress. (You surround me with cries of deliverance.)
I will instruct you and teach you* the way you should go;
I will give you counsel* with My eye upon you.
Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent, needing bridle and bit,* else they will not approach you.
Many sorrows has the wicked* but he who trusts in the Lord, loving mercy surrounds him.
Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,* exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,* all you upright of heart.
Acknowledgement of guilt
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger;* do not punish me, Lord, in Your rage.
Your arrows have sunk deep in me;* Your hand has come down upon me.
Through Your anger all my body is sick:* through my sin, there is no health in my limbs.
My guilt towers higher than my head;* it is a weight too heavy to bear.
My wounds are foul and festering,* the result of my own folly.
I am bowed and brought to my knees.* I go mourning all the day long.
All my frame burns with fever;* all my body is sick.
Spent and utterly crushed,* I cry aloud in anguish of heart.
O Lord, You know all my longing:* my groans are not hidden from You.
My heart throbs, my strength is spent;* the very light has gone from my eyes.
My friends avoid me like a leper;* those closest to me stand afar off.
Those who plot against my life lay snares;* those who seek my ruin speak of harm, planning treachery all the day long.
But I am like the deaf who cannot hear,* like the dumb unable to speak.
I am like a man who hears nothing* in whose mouth is no defence.
I count on You, O Lord:* It is You, Lord God, Who will answer.
I pray: ‘Do not let them mock me,* those who triumph if my foot should slip.’
For I am on the point of falling* and my pain is always before me.
I confess that I am guilty* and my sin fills me with dismay.
My wanton enemies are numberless* and my lying foes are many.
They repay me evil for good* and attack me for seeking what is right.
O Lord, do not forsake me!* My God, do not stay afar off!
Make haste and come to my help,* O Lord, my God, my Saviour!
Prayer of contrition
Have mercy on me, God, in Your kindness.* In Your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt* and cleanse me from my sin.
My offences truly I know them;* my sin is always before me.
Against You, You alone, have I sinned;* what is evil in Your sight I have done.
That You may be justified when You give sentence* and be without reproach when You judge.
O see, in guilt I was born,* a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed You love truth in the heart;* then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;* O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,* that the bones You have crushed may thrill.
From my sins turn away Your face* and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God,* put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,* nor deprive me of Your Holy Spirit.
Give me again the joy of Your salvation;* with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
That I may teach transgressors Your ways* and sinners may return to You.
O rescue me, God, my helper,* and my tongue shall ring out Your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips* and my mouth shall declare Your praise.
For in sacrifice You take no delight,* burnt offering from me You would refuse,
My sacrifice, a contrite spirit.* A humbled, contrite heart You will not spurn.
In Your goodness, show favour to Zion:* rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then You will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, (burnt offerings wholly consumed,)* then You will be offered young bulls on Your altar.
Prayer for renewal
O Lord, listen to my prayer* and let my cry for help reach You.
Do not hide Your face from me* in the day of my distress.
Turn Your ear towards me* and answer me quickly when I call.
For my days are vanishing like smoke,* my bones burn away like a fire.
My heart is withered like the grass.* I forget to eat my bread.
I cry with all my strength* and my skin clings to my bones.
I have become like a pelican in the wilderness,* like an owl in desolate places.
I lie awake and I moan* like some lonely bird on a roof.
All day long my foes revile me;* those who hate me use my name as a curse.
The bread I eat is ashes;* my drink is mingled with tears.
In Your anger, Lord, and Your fury* You have lifted me up and thrown me down.
My days are like a passing shadow* and I wither away like the grass.
But You, O Lord, will endure for ever* and Your name from age to age.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion;* for this is the time to have mercy, (yes, the time appointed has come,)
For Your servants love her very stones,* are moved with pity even for her dust.
The nations shall fear the name of the Lord* and all the earth’s kings Your glory,
When the Lord shall build up Zion again* and appear in all His glory.
Then He will turn to the prayers of the helpless;* He will not despise their prayers.
Let this be written for ages to come* that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
For the Lord leaned down from His sanctuary on high.* He looked down from heaven to the earth,
That He might hear the groans of prisoners* and free those condemned to die.
The sons of Your servants shall dwell untroubled* and their race shall endure before You,
That the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion* and His praise in the heart of Jerusalem,
When peoples and kingdoms are gathered together* to pay their homage to the Lord.
* * *
He has broken my strength in mid-course;* He has shortened the days of my life.
I say to God: ‘Do not take me away before my days are complete,* You, whose days last from age to age.
Long ago You founded the earth* and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish but You will remain.* They will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like clothes that are changed.* But You are the same, and Your years shall have no end.’
Prayer of repentance and trust
Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord,* Lord, hear my voice!
O let Your ears be attentive* to the voice of my pleading.
If You, O Lord, should mark our guilt,* Lord, who would survive?
But with You is found forgiveness:* for this we revere You.
My soul is waiting for the Lord,* I count on His word.
My soul is longing for the Lord* more than the watchman for daybreak.
Let the watchman count on daybreak* and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy* and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed He will redeem* from all its iniquity.
Confidence in the Lord
O Lord, listen to my prayer: turn Your ear to my appeal.* You are faithful, You are just; give answer.
Do not call Your servant to judgment* for no one is just in Your sight.
The enemy pursues my soul;* he has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness* like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails;* my heart is numb within me.
I remember the days that are past:* I ponder all Your works.
I muse what Your hand has wrought* and to You I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for You.* Lord, make haste and answer; for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide Your face* lest I become like those in the grave.
In the morning let me know Your love* for I put my trust in You.
Make me know the way I should walk:* to You I lift up my soul.
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;* I have fled to You for refuge.
Teach me to do Your will* for You, O Lord, are my God.
Let Your good spirit guide me* in the ways that are level and smooth.
For Your name’s sake, Lord, save my life;* in Your justice save my soul from distress.
In Your love make an end of my foes;* destroy all those who oppress me for I am Your servant, O Lord.