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
(affliction of spirit) and
(repentance of heart).
The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give
man a new heart.
Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of
God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O
, that we may be restored!”
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
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.
Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong
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.
The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many
and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms,
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.”
24 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676-1678; 1705; cf.
II, V, 4.
28 St. Clement of Rome,
7, 4: PG 1, 224.
2:36-38; John Paul II,