New prayer at confession: scriptural act of contrition

Has anybody read Verbum Domini and section 61 in particular?

The pope said it is “good” for a penitent to use a scripture based prayer of contrition. This sounds like something new.

Does anybody have any examples of this?

No, but the last time I went to confession, there was a prayer written out for people to say. It was a different Act of contrition, but I can’t remember the exact words.

I use Psalm 51:3-12 often for my act of contrition. I find it is something that I can say sincerely and with full intent of how I feel.

Psalm 38(37)
1 Yahweh, do not correct me in anger, do not discipline me in wrath.

2 For your arrows have pierced deep into me, your hand has pressed down upon me.

3 Your indignation has left no part of me unscathed, my sin has left no health in my bones.

4 My sins stand higher than my head, they weigh on me as an unbearable weight.

5 I have stinking, festering wounds, thanks to my folly.

6 I am twisted and bent double, I spend my days in gloom.

7 My loins burn with fever, no part of me is unscathed.

8 Numbed and utterly crushed I groan in distress of heart.

9 Lord, all my longing is known to you, my sighing no secret from you,

10 my heart is throbbing, my strength has failed, the light has gone out of my eyes.

11 Friends and companions shun my disease, even the dearest of them keep their distance.

12 Those with designs on my life lay snares, those who wish me ill speak of violence and hatch treachery all day long.

13 But I hear nothing, as though I were deaf, as though dumb, saying not a word.

14 I am like the one who, hearing nothing, has no sharp answer to make.

15 For in you, Yahweh, I put my hope, you, Lord my God, will give answer.

16 I said, ‘Never let them gloat over me, do not let them take advantage of me if my foot slips.’

17 There is no escape for me from falling, no relief from my misery.

18 But I make no secret of my guilt, I am anxious at the thought of my sin.

19 There is no numbering those who oppose me without cause, no counting those who hate me unprovoked,

20 repaying me evil for good, slandering me for trying to do them good.

21 Yahweh, do not desert me, my God, do not stand aloof from me.

22 Come quickly to my help, Lord, my Saviour!


The Jesus Prayer, taken from Luke 18:10-14 (The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector) is also a well known scriptural act of contrition. I’ve heard on EWTN that it is more known in the Eastern Churches than in the West…

*Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. *

Also, I think the response at the Angus Dei is also another scripture-based act of contrition since it is based on Matthew 8. The wording from the new translation of the Mass is beautiful in its wording:

Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

Crumpy, I just looked this up and 61 doesn’t seem to say this. I did find it much later in the document though.

[LEFT]The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick[/LEFT]
Though the Eucharist certainly remains central to the relationship between God’s word and the sacraments, we must also stress the importance of sacred Scripture in the other sacraments, especially the sacraments of healing, namely the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance, and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The role of sacred Scripture in these sacraments is often overlooked, yet it needs to be assured its proper place. We ought never to forget that “the word of God is a word of reconciliation, for in it God has reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10). The loving forgiveness of God, made flesh in Jesus, raises up the sinner”.[217] “Through the word of God the Christian receives light to recognize his sins and is called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy”.[218] To have a deeper experience of the reconciling power of God’s word, the individual penitent should be encouraged to prepare for confession by meditating on a suitable text of sacred Scripture and to begin confession by reading or listening to a biblical exhortation such as those provided in the rite. When expressing contrition it would be good if the penitent were to use “a prayer based on the words of Scripture”,[219] such as those indicated in the rite

Yes (one can always by the way make up ones own act…in this case he is suggesting one could used something from Scripture as a basis…)

And he also mentions the reading of scripture during confession by the Priest or Penitent…


I think its a new emphasis on options that are available. I think the document is correct is saying: “The role of sacred Scripture in these sacraments is often overlooked, yet it needs to be assured its proper place.”

In the Rite of Penance for individual penitents it has (after the response of “Amen” to the invitation to trust in God):
43. Then the priest may read or say from memory a text of Scripture which proclaims God’s mercy and call man to conversion. …”
(The Rites Volume One, Liturgical Press, 1990, ISBN: 0-8146-6015-0, page 545).

The rubrics on the Prayer of the Penitent have,
“45. The priest then asks the penitent to express his sorrow, which the penitent may do in these or similar words:” (page 546).

Ten versions are provided. Three of these have bible references: Psalm 25:6-7, Psalm 50:4-5 and Luke 15:18;18:13.

So Verbum Domini seems to be saying that these three are to be given special preference: “When expressing contrition it would be good if the penitent were to use “a prayer based on the words of Scripture”,[219] such as those indicated in the rite.” But perhaps all ten of them are “based on words of Scripture”, so it is better to use one in the book rather than making one up.

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