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COMMENTARY: Fruitful Remorse Arises From Thorough Examination of Conscience
By Father Paul Scalia, EWTN News, 4/23/20
Father Paul Scalia is the episcopal vicar for clergy for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.
“Receive the Holy Spirit,” said the risen Lord to his apostles. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” The sacrament of Penance, instituted by Christ himself, is one of the greatest gifts of Divine Mercy, but it is widely neglected. To help rekindle a new appreciation for such a profound gift of Divine Mercy, the Register presents this special section.
Psalm 51 sets the tone. It is the definitive penitential Psalm and zeros our sights on the most important element of the penitential season — contrition: “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Psalm 51:19).
St. Thomas observes that contrition “includes virtually the whole of penance.” It contains in seminal form the other dimensions of the sacrament of penance: confession, reconciliation and satisfaction. This truth emphasizes the need for us to deepen our contrition, especially in preparation for confession.
We should appreciate first the personal character of authentic contrition. It is tempting for us to hide in the crowd, participating in the Church’s penitential prayers, liturgies and devotions … but not really investing ourselves. That will not do. No matter how much Mother Church exhorts us, leads us in prayer and intercedes for us, each one of us must ultimately repent personally. Christian contrition is personal for another reason, as well. Unlike natural regret or worldly remorse, it comes from an awareness of having offended not merely a law or ethical standard, but the Person of Jesus Christ. …