BY REV. F. QUIRIJNEN, S.J
V. HOW TO OBTAIN PERFECT CONTRITION
Perfect Contrition is a gift of God, a great GRACE. Only by God in Christ Our Saviour can we have our sins forgiven. Now, the universal means of obtaining graces is PRAYER: ―Ask and ye shall receive.
To obtain Perfect Contrition we must, therefore, pray for is-as fervently as a mother beside the cot of her dying child prays for its recovery. Here there is question of our own immortal soul to be restored to the life divine. When we beg God for some temporal favour, we may be refused what we ask for. But the prayer for Perfect Contrition will always be heard. ―Suppose one of you asks his father for a loaf of bread-will he hand him a stone? . . . If then you, who are sinful, know how to bestow kind gifts on your children, how much more will your heavenly Father impart the Holy Ghost to those who ask Him? Jesus here promises to prayer the highest grace, the Holy Ghost Himself. In it the lesser grace Perfect Contrition is certainly included.
Let us then have recourse to God, beg Him to pardon us and count upon divine mercy. Let us imitate the Publican of the Gospel, whom Jesus Himself has proposed to us as a model: ―The Publican, standing far off (in the Temple) would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven,but smote his breast, saying, ‗O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ This man, I tell you, Jesus concludes, ―went back to his house justified.
As we have said already, to arouse ourselves to Perfect Contrition we need not set aside all consideration of the punishment of hell and the loss of heaven, or of God’s goodness repaid by us with such ingratitude. On the contrary, these considerations will often be very useful to arouse a beginning of sorrow for our sins. However, we should not stop at them, but think of Christ crucified for us and ask God to grant us though Christ’s merits the grace of immediate restoration into His friendship through Perfect Contrition.
―But, I can pray no more, some will object. In fact, one who has long indulged in mortal o r deliberate venial sin and neglected all prayer will not easily set himself to pray. A sick person finds even the most delicious food tasteless. The fault is not with the food, but with that person’s appetite. Similarly, the sinner, estranged from God and clinging to creatures, may have lost all taste for spiritual things. He finds it hard to fix his mind on God’s supreme goodness and countless benefits, because his will is hardened in its attachment to creatures-How to soften and redirect that will?.
(a) With God nothing is impossible. Following the advice of St. Charles Borromeo:
―Pay a visit to Christ, crucified and. dying for you on Calvary amidst pains and insults of every description. The knowledge that the Crucified One is Infinite Goodness itself, your greatest Benefactor, whom, instead of loving, you have insulted and nailed to the Cross, will awaken in your heart sentiments of love and sorrow that will wipe away your sins even before you enter the confessional.
(b) A second means is recourse to the Immaculate Mother of Jesus, our Mother, the Mediatrix of all graces. She has brought forth for us our Redeemer and nourished Him and offered Him a Victim for our sins and on the Cross. Imagine her on Mount Calvary with the dead and mangled body of Jesus on her knees: ―O Mary, here I am to contemplate the evil which MY SINS have wrought on your Jesus. What havoc they have played with His innocent body-His head crowned with thorns, His hands and feet pierced with cruel nails, not a spot on His body left unhurt, unsullied. Neither have they spared you, but pierced your motherly heart with swords of sorrow. .
O Blessed Virgin, pray for me . . . obtain for me the grace never to sin again
Often a few words will suffice. Just look at her and at Jesus crucified, and say with her: ―My Jesus, mercy. —―My God have mercy on me, a sinner. ―My God, I love Thee above all things.
(c) A third powerful and attractive means is recourse to the Sacred Wounds of Jesus. Recite, for example, the favourite prayer of St. Ignatius:
―Soul of Christ, sanctify me-Body of Christ, save me-Blood of Christ, inebriate me-Water from the side of Christ, wash me-Passion of Christ, strengthen me-O good Jesus, hear me-Within Thy Wounds hide me-Permit me not to be separated from Thee-From the malignant foe defend me-In the hour of my death call me-And bid me come to Thee- That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee-For ever and ever. Amen.