The ancient tradition of the Church involves the meditation on seven Psalms, called the “Penitential Psalms” because of their spiritual nature of penance and conversion. It is believed that the designation of these Psalms as “penitential” began way back in the 7th century and has continued ever since.
Below is the beginning of each Psalm, expressing the sorrow inside a person’s heart for sins against God’s goodness.

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy anger, nor discipline me in thy wrath.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am faint: heal me, O Lord, for my bones are in agony.
And my soul is in anguish: but thou, O Lord, how long?
Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercy’s sake.
For there is no one who remembers you in death: and who shall praise thee in grave?…

Psalm 32
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are removed,
whose sin is forgiven.
Blessed is the man to whose sin the Lord does not count,
in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away;
I groaned all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped as the heat of the summer….

Psalm 38
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger;
do not chastise me in your wrath!
Your arrows have pierced me;
your hand has come down upon me.
There is no wholesomeness in my flesh because of your anger;
My bones has no soundness because of my sin.
My iniquities overwhelm me,
a burden too heavy for me….

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, God, according to your unfailing love;
in your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my iniquities;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
I have done what is evil in your eyes….

Psalm 102
Oh Lord, hear my prayer;
let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
When I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn away like glowing embers….

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, Oh Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Oh Lord, keep account of sins,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you there is forgiveness
and so you are revered….

Psalm 143
Oh Lord, hear my prayer;
in your faithfulness listen to my cry for mercy;
answer me in your righteousness.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
before you no one can be just.
The enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground….

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