Psalm 51 was recently given to me as my penance after a confession heard by a young visiting priest to our church. “What is Psalm 51?” I asked.
He said, simply, “It is beautiful.” He shared with me that he always adds this Psalm to whatever penance he is given during his own confessions.
He explained that it allows us to acknowledge that we are sinners, “Wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sins cleanse me.” It teaches us that by denying sin, we separate ourselves from God’s many graces which we need to become closer to Him. But by recognizing our sins and being truly sorry for them, “with a heart contrite and humbled,” He will never reject us. It gives us the opportunity to ask Him to stay close to us, despite our faults, “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”
During this time of Lenten fasting and praying, we are reaching into Psalm 51 and asking God to purify us, “A clean heart create for me, O God.” When we ask for His forgiveness, we exchange our weakness for strength, “A steadfast spirit renew within me” and we exchange our remorse for the greatest of His graces: true peace and happiness.