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Chapter 18. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation • 247

ated by experiencing the festive meal, joyous music, and enthusiastic

welcome for such a good-for-nothing brother?

The father replied that the older son had absolute security and

the utmost love and regard of his father. Everything the father owned

belonged to him. “My son, be forgiving and generous of heart. Your

brother was dead and is now alive. We must celebrate. Rejoice in his

return to us and this home of love.”

Usually this story is named after the prodigal son who wasted his

inheritance. But it could just as well be entitled “The Forgiving Father,”

as he has a heart of sheer generosity and spends his love lavishly on

forgiving and welcoming his son back home. In scriptural terms, the son

represents a sinner in need of forgiveness who is moved to repent, con-

fess his sin, and humble himself before God.

The father in the story represents God’s immense compassion, rich

in mercy and ever willing to search out sinners and offer them the for-

giveness that brings them home. The story encourages us to trust in God

the Father’s love and forgiveness, which we receive in the Sacrament

of Reconciliation.


An Act of Contrition (a traditional version)

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee

and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishments,

but most of all because they offend thee, my God,

who are all good and worthy of all my love.

I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace,

to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

Prayer of the Penitent (Rite of Penance)

Lord Jesus, Son of God

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

A clean heart create for me, God.

—Ps 51:12