Every day we need to repent of our sins and turn back to our God, who loves us with an unimaginable true love. “[F]or Jesus, sin is sin, a violation of love against God, self, and neighbor. However, in His divine mercy, Jesus called the sinner to realize the sin, to repent of it, and to be reconciled with God, self, and neighbor” (Fr. William Saunders).
Saint John Neumann (1811-1860) was born in Bohemia (Czech Republic). He came to the United States to serve European immigrants and was ordained in New York in 1836. In 1842 he joined the Redemptorists. As bishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1852 until his death, he began the Forty Hours’ devotion in his diocese and established the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States.
Before we share a prayer of repentance attributed to St. John Neumann, we share a familiar prayer of repentance, Psalm 51, a beautiful prayer for asking God’s forgiveness:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners will return to thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
16 For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on thy altar.
This prayer written by St. John Neumann expresses sorrow for our sins and the resolve to avoid sin in the future. And let us ask the intercession of St. John Neumann as we strive for closer union with our dear Lord Jesus Christ!
Prayer of Repentance
By St. John Neumann
My Lord Jesus, behold me defiled by sin. Again I have stained the holy garment of grace in my soul that Your Blood has cleansed so often. O Father of mercy, hear my prayer. Give me a true spirit of penance, that through the humble supplication of a contrite heart I may again receive pardon.
Since my last confession I have fallen more frequently than usual. My Jesus, I have gone back. But do not forsake me, though I richly deserve to be rejected as obstinate and incorrigible. Behold me prostrate before You, O my God. My sinfulness weighs me down. Alas, Jesus, my God and Savior, I do not raise my eyes to You. How can I who have so often violated my past resolves presume to ask pardon again?
O my soul, crushed by the load of sin, take courage: your Redeemer will console you in your desolation. Reject me not, though I have miserably broken my promise of amendment. Cast not off Your wretched child, or I shall be forever lost. From my heart I grieve for having offended You.
O holy Mother of God, my guardian angel, my holy patrons: Intercede for me with my Judge and obtain for me the pardon of my sins. O Jesus, grant me a true spirit of penance. My Jesus, have mercy on me. Amen.