The Lord has declared his tenderness towards penitent sinners in the parable of the Prodigal Child. (Luke xv. 12, etc.) In that parable the Son of God says, that a certain young man, unwilling to be any longer under the control of his father, and desiring to live according to his caprice and corrupt inclinations, asked the portion of his fathers substance which fell to him. The father gave it with sorrow, weeping over the ruin of his son. The son departed from his father's house. Having in a short time dissipated his substance, he was reduced to such a degree of misery that, to procure the necessaries of life, he was obliged to feed swine. All this was a figure of a sinner, who, after departing from God, and losing the divine grace and all the merits he had acquired, leads a life of misery under the slavery of the devil.

In the gospel it is added that the young man, seeing his wretched condition, resolved to return to his father: and the father, who is a figure of Jesus Christ, seeing his son return to him, was instantly moved to pity. "His father saw him, and was moved with compassion" (v. 20); and, instead of driving him away, as the ungrateful son had deserved, "running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed him." He ran with open arms to meet him, and, through tenderness, fell upon his neck, and consoled him by his embraces. He then said to his servants: "Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him." According to St. Jerome and St. Augustine, the first robe signifies the divine grace, which, in addition to new celestial gifts, God, by granting pardon, gives to the penitent sinner. "And put a ring on his finger." Give him the ring of a spouse. By recovering the grace of God, the soul becomes again the spouse of Jesus Christ.

Christ has come, not to condemn, but to deliver sinners from hell, as soon as they resolve to amend their lives. And when he sees them obstinately bent on their own perdition, He addresses them with tears in the words of Ezechiel: "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (xviii. 31). My children, why will you die? Why do you voluntarily rush into hell, when I have come from heaven to deliver you from it by death? He adds: you are already dead to the grace of God. But I will not your death: return to Me, and I will restore to you the life which you have lost. "For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: return ye and live" (v. 32). But some sinners, who are immersed in the abyss of sin, may say: Perhaps, if we return to Jesus Christ, He will drive us away. No, for the Redeemer has said: "And him that cometh to me I will not cast out." (John vi. 37.) No one that comes to Me with sorrow for his past sins, however manifold and enormous they may have been, shall be rejected.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Lenten Novena in Honor of Christ Crucified
This can be made at any time during Lent.

Jesus Christ Crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, incline Thy Sacred Head, and listen to my petitions and sighs, as Thou didst listen to Thy eternal Father on Mount Thabor.
Hail Mary, etc.

Jesus Christ Crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open Thy sacred Eyes, and look upon me as Thou didst look upon Thy sacred Mother from the Cross. Hail Mary, etc.

Jesus Christ Crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open Thy sacred Lips, and speak to my afflicted heart, as Thou didst speak to St. John, when Thou recommended him to Thy dear Mother. Hail Mary, etc.

Jesus Christ Crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open Thy sacred Arms, and receive me Thy poor child, as Thou didst embrace the hard wood of the Cross, for love of me and of all sinners. Hail Mary, etc.

Jesus Christ Crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open Thy sacred Heart, that seat of love and mercy, and receive mine into it; make it wholly Thine. Hear my prayers, and grant my petitions. Hail Mary, etc.


Penitential Litany for Lent

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Behold we were conceived in sin; and in iniquity our mothers brought us forth;

Have mercy on us. *

As we have grown in years, we have multiplied our offences; and every day Thy goodness adds to our lives, our wickedness increases the heap of our transgressions; *

The law of our body makes war against the law of our mind, and brings us into subjection to sin; so that the good which we would, we do not, and the evil which we would not, that we do; *

We have sinned in the vain Thoughts and unlawful desires of our hearts, in the idle talk and perverse words of our mouths, in the wicked works, and fruitless course of our lives; *

We have sinned against Thee by our ingratitude for Thy blessings, and by our impatience under Thy chastisements, by preferring ourselves, and the satisfaction of our own appetites and desires, before Thee and the observance of Thy holy commandments; *

We have sinned against others, in not doing to them as we would have them to do to us; and against our own souls, in pursuing more eagerly the things of this life than those which belong to our eternal happiness; *

We have sinned in delaying our repentance, and breaking the solemn promise of amending our lives; in exposing ourselves to the danger of temptation, and often omitting the opportunities of serving Thee; and even our best endeavours are full of imperfections; *

We have sinned, in not improving ourselves, by the talents of grace and nature, which Thy bounty hath committed to us; and by idly spending that precious time, and unthankfully neglecting those gracious means, which Thy goodness hath allowed us for the work of our salvation; *

Have mercy on us, most merciful Father, and pardon the multitude of our offenses. Remember what our substance is; that we are but as the grass of the field, or as a vapour that passeth away, and returns no more: Remember what Thou art; infinitely glorious in Thyself, and infinitely good to the least of Thy creatures: Remember the gracious promises of Jesus Christ; and for the merits of his sacred passion, from all our sins, Deliver us, O Lord.

Deliver us, O Lord. **

From abuse of this day, which we are commanded to keep holy, **

From sloth and indevotion, **

From neglect of prayer, and of Thy sacred word, **

From all occasions of mis-spending this day, **

From whatever is an offence to God, or a scandal to the weak, **

We sinners, beseech Thee, hear us

We beseech Thee, hear us.***

That we may have Thy grace to sanctify this day, as Thou hast commanded, ***

That we may, this day, labour to arise to a new life, ***

That we may, this day, examine into the state of our souls, and resolve to amend and whatever is displeasing to Thee, ***

That we may be converted from all our evil ways, and by a sincere repentance obtain Thy peace, ***

That we may, this day, be so strengthened in our faith as to bend our whole endeavors upon seeking those eternal goods which faith teacheth us, and live by faith, ***

That Thy Holy Spirit would, this day, descend and take possession of our hearts, and so confirm us in every duty that no earthly considerations may be able to prevail against us to the transgressions of Thy law, ***

That we may, this day, join with the blessed above, in praising, adoring, and praying to Thee, and prepare our souls to celebrate, with them, an eternal Sabbath, ***

That we may not give this day to earth or self-love, which is consecrated to heaven, but employ it in such exercises as may raise our hearts above creatures, and unite them to Thee by love, who art our only sovereign and everlasting good, ***

That Thou wouldest vouchsafe graciously to hear us, and grant these our petitions, ***

Son of God, We beseech Thee, hear us.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world;
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world;
Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world;
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Let us pray:

O God, the Protector of all that hope in Thee, without Whom nothing can have either strength or holiness, multiply Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, upon us, that, Thou being our governor and our guide, we may so pass through the goods of this life as not to lose those which are eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins which we have committed.

A. Nor punish us as our iniquities deserve.

V. Help us, O God, our Saviour; and for the glory of Thy name deliver us.

A. O Lord, deliver us; and for the glory of Thy name pardon us our offences.

V. The priests, the ministers of the Lord, shall weep between the porch and the altar, and shall say, spare, O Lord, spare Thy people.

A. We therefore beseech Thee, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood; O Lord, have mercy on us; have mercy on us.

Let us pray:

Grant us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, Thy assistance, whereby we may go through the observance of this holy fast; that what we have undertaken by Thy appointment we may by Thy grace accomplish, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.