1. St. Luke writes (chap, xv.) that an ungrateful son, disdaining to remain in subjection to his father, went one day to demand from him his inheritance, that he might live as he pleased; and having obtained it, turned his back upon his father and went his way to live in vice in a far distant country. This prodigal son is a figure of the sinner, who, abusing the liberty which God has granted him, forsakes God, and lives in iniquity far away from him.
O my Lord, and my Father! this is what I have done, when to satisfy my capricious desires I have so often forsaken Thee, to live at a distance from Thee deprived of Thy grace.
2. But as it happened to the prodigal son, that, having left his father, he was reduced to so great misery that he was unable to satisfy himself with the husks which the swine refused to eat; so does it happen to the sinner. When he forsakes God, he can nowhere find contentment nor peace; because, at a distance from God, all the pleasures of the earth cannot satisfy his heart. The prodigal son, seeing himself reduced to such a state of misery, said within himself, I will arise and go to my father? Do Thou, Christian, in like manner, arise from the filth of sin and return to your heavenly Father, who will not reject you.
Yes, my God, my Father, I confess that I have done evil in forsaking Thee; I am sorry for it and repent of it with my whole heart. Oh, do not cast me off now that I return to Thee penitent, and resolved nevermore to depart from before Thy feet. My dear Father, forgive me, pardon me, give me the kiss of peace and receive me into Thy favor.
3. The prodigal son, on his return, cast himself with humility at his father’s feet and said, Father, I am not worthy to be called thy son. Upon which his father embraced him with tenderness, and, forgetting all his past ingratitude, welcomed him with the greatest affection, and was overjoyed at regaining his son who was lost.
Most tender Father, suffer me to cast myself with sorrow at Thy feet, for my multiplied offences against Thee. I am not worthy to be called Thy son, having so many times forsaken and despised Thee; but I know that Thou art so good a parent that Thou wilt not reject a repentant child. If hitherto I have not loved Thee, I will now love Thee above all things, and will willingly undergo any suffering for Thy love. Assist me with Thy holy grace, that I may ever remain faithful to Thee. O Mary, God is my Father, thou art my Mother; be not forgetful of me.
Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).