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360

Part Two

1431

Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole

life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin,

a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions

we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and

resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust

in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by

a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called

animi cruciatus

(affliction of spirit) and

compunctio cordis

(repentance of heart).

24

1432

The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give

man a new heart.

25

Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of

God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O

Lord

, that we may be restored!”

26

God gives us the strength to

begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our

heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear

offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human

heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have

pierced:

27

Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how

precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation,

it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

28

1433

Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong

about sin,”

29

i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him

whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to

light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for

repentance and conversion.

30

V.

T

he

M

any

F

orms of

P

enance

in

C

hristian

L

ife

1434

The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many

and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms,

fasting, prayer,

and

almsgiving,

31

which express conversion in relation to

oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought

about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgive-

ness of sins: efforts at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repen-

tance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the

saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.”

32

24 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676-1678; 1705; cf.

Roman Catechism,

II, V, 4.

25 Cf.

Ezek

36:26-27.

26

Lam

5:21.

27 Cf.

Jn

19:37;

Zech

12:10.

28 St. Clement of Rome,

Ad Cor.

7, 4: PG 1, 224.

29 Cf.

Jn

16:8-9.

30 Cf.

Jn

15:26;

Acts

2:36-38; John Paul II,

DeV

27-48.

31 Cf.

Tob

12:8;

Mt

6:1-18.

32

1 Pet

4:8; cf.

Jas

5:20.

1451

368

1989

729

692, 1848

1969