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Verse 6 of Psalm 31, which we will consider today, picks up a major theme of the psalm, namely our unfortunate tendency to refuse to not to simply accept that we have sinned, confess it, and move on.
Instead, human nature means that we either continue blithely ignoring the fact of our sin; try and persuade ourselves that we haven't sinned really; or persuade ourselves that our sin is not really that serious. One example of this perhaps is the use by Catholics of contraception, which Russell Shaw has recently suggested stands behind the mass defection from the sacrament of confession.
The sentiment also though has application for most of us, I think not just in relation to serious sins, but also in relation to those personality faults, failures and weaknesses that we all know we should work on - but do our best to try not to think about!
Verse 6 of Psalm 31 reads in the Vulgate:
A literal translation is: "I said: I will confess (confitebor) against myself (adversum me) my injustice (injustitiam meam) to the Lord: and you have remitted (tu remisisti) to me the impiety/wickness(impietatem) of my sins."
The process of conversion
And on this, today I want to offer first St John Chrysostom's take on this verse in the process of conversion:
Secondly, Pope Benedict XVI stressed in his message for Lent the connection between Lent and our baptism. In his catechesis on this psalm Pope John Paul II reflects this idea, saying:
"St Cyril of Jerusalem (fourth century) uses Psalm 32 to teach catechumens of the profound renewal of Baptism, a radical purification from all sin (cf. Procatechesi, n. 15). Using the words of the Psalmist, he too exalts divine mercy. We end our catechesis with his words: "God is merciful and is not stingy in granting forgiveness.... The mountain of your sins will not rise above the greatness of God's mercy, the depth of your wounds will not overcome the skilfulness of the "most high' Doctor: on condition that you abandon yourself to him with trust. Make known your evil to the Doctor, and address him with the words of the prophet David: "I will confess to the Lord the sin that is always before me'. In this way, these words will follow: "You have forgiven the ungodliness of my heart'" (Le Catechesi, Rome, 1993, pp. 52-53)."
Tomorrow a look at verses 11&12 of the psalm, on resisting God's providential guidance of us. And in the meantime, here are the two verses on confessing sin and receiving forgiveness (verses 5&6) in the setting by Delalande.