Contrition

Padre Quadrupani discusses contrition: what it is and what it is not. He writes: “Contrition is essentially an act of the will by which we detest our past sins and resolve not to commit them in future. Hence sighs, tears, sensible sorrow are not necessary elements of true contrition. . . . Therefore never allow yourself to be disturbed by the want of sensible sorrow. . . . It is essential to be sorry for our sins—it is not essential to be troubled about them. Repentance is an effect of love of God, anxiety is an effect of self-love.”

“In the midst of the keenest and most sincere repentance we can still thank God that He has not permitted us to become yet more culpable. Let us promise Him a solid amendment, relying for success solely upon the assistance of divine grace; and should we fall again a hundred times a day, let us never cease to renew the promise and the hope. God can in an instant raise up from the very stones children to Abraham and exalt the most corrupt natures to the highest degree of sanctity. At times He does so, but usually it is His will that we long continue to bear the burden of our infirmity: let us not then lose our trust in Him, nor mistake a state of trial for a state of reprobation.”

He gives this advice to the repentant sinner: “Do not make violent efforts to excite your soul to contrition, for these only have the effect of producing anxiety, weariness and oppression of mind. On the contrary seek to become very calm; say lovingly to God that you wish sincerely you had never offended Him and that with the assistance of His grace you will never offend Him more—that is contrition. True contrition is a product of love, and love acts in a calm.”

Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).

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