St. Augustines's Conversion (Confess. l . viii. c 5.)
by St. Augustine, taken from "The Leaves of St. Augustine", 1886

When Thy servant Simplician told me these things about Victor, I longed to imitate him, and this was Simplician's reason for telling me. Afterwards he indeed added that under the Emperor Julian a law had been passed forbidding Christians to teach literature and oratory, accepting which law, he had preferred rather to give up his teaching than Thy Word. By this Thy Word Thou makest eloquent tongues of infants. I thought his happiness at least equalled his courage, inasmuch as he thus found an opportunity of spending time upon Thee. This was the happiness after which I was sighing, all bound as I was, not by external chains, but by the chain of my own will. The enemy had possession of my will, and in this way he had involved me in a chain by which he held me bound. An unlawful desire is indeed produced by a perverse will, and in obeying an unlawful desire a habit becomes established; and when a habit is not restrained it grows into a necessity. Thus, like links hanging together, which induced me to use the word "chain," a dire servitude held me fast. For the new will which began to be in me that I might offer Thee my heart's free worship, and enjoy Thee, O God, Who alone art secure joy, was not yet strong enough to overcome the old will which habit had confirmed. So it was that these two wills, the old one and the new one, the former carnal and the latter spiritual, were at variance with each other, and dissipated my soul by their struggle.

In this way I understood by personal experience that which I had read, how the flesh may lust against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. I indeed felt this double conflict, but I went rather with that in me which approved itself to me than with that in me of which I disapproved. With the latter indeed I did not go so much, because in a great measure I rather suffered it against my will than did it with a will. Still habit had acquired a greater power over me by my own fault, so that I had arrived by my will at a point which 1 did not will . . . . But I, who was weighed down by earthly necessities, refused to serve Thee, and I feared to be free from all impediments, as men ought to fear being held by them.

Thus the burden of this world held me in its easy yoke, after the fashion of sleep, and the thoughts which I had concerning Thee were like the efforts of men wishing to rouse themselves from sleep, who fall back again into it through excessive drowsiness. And as no man is to be found who would wish always to sleep, and in the sound judgment of all it is a good thing to be awake, still for all that, a man procrastinates much about throwing off sleep when he feels grievous weariness in his limbs, and he enjoys it the more even if distasteful in itself, although it be time for him to get up. So I knew for certain that it was better for me to give myself up to Thy charity than to yield to my own desire. The one approved itself to me and conquered my judgment; the other flattered me and won the day. For I had no answer to make to those words of Thine to me, Awake, thou who sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee. I, who was convinced of the truth, had nothing whatever to answer Thee, everywhere showing Thyself to speak true things, except slow words and sleepy words. "Anon, anon;" "Presently;" "Leave me alone for a little while." But "presently, presently," had no present, and my "little while" went on for a long while.

It was in vain that I delighted in Thy law according to the inner man, whilst another law in my members was fighting against the law of my mind, and making me a captive unto the law of sin which was in my members . . . .

And I will now declare how Thou didst deliver me from the chain of lustful desire which was holding me tight, and from the slavery of worldly business; and I will confess to Thy name, O Lord, my Helper and my Redeemer. I carried out my usual occupations with increasing uneasiness, and I cried to Thee day by day. I frequented Thy church as far as the burden of those cares which made me groan gave me time. Alypius was with me, free from his legal business after the third session, and looking for some one to whom he might again sell his advice, just as I sold my power of speaking, if indeed it is to be imparted by teaching. Nebridius had now, in consideration of our friendship, consented to teach under Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a very intimate friend of us all, who urgently desired, and by the right of friendship challenged from our company, such faithful aid as he greatly needed.

On a certain day, therefore, I do not remember how it was that Nebridius was absent, a man called Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, inasmuch as he was an African, in high office in the Emperor's court, came to our house to see me and Alypius. I did not know what he wanted of us. We sat down to talk, and it happened that upon a table for some game before us he observed a book, took, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it was the Apostle Paul, for he had thought it some of those books which I was wearing myself in teaching. Whereat, smiling and looking at me, he expressed his joy and wonder that he had suddenly come upon this book, and that I alone saw it. For he was a Christian and one of the faithful, and often prostrated himself before Thee, our God, in the church in frequent and continued prayers. When then I had told him that I bestowed very great pains upon those Scriptures, a conversation arose (suggested by his account) about Anthony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high reputation among Thy servants, though to that hour unknown to us. When he discovered this, he dwelt the more upon the subject, informing our ignorance, and expressing his wonder that we should know nothing of one so eminent. But we stood amazed, hearing Thy wonderful works most fully attested, in times so recent and so near to our own days, wrought in the true Faith and Catholic Church. We all wondered; we that they were so great, and he that they had not reached our ears.

Thence his discourse turned to the flocks in the monasteries and their holy ways, a sweet-smelling savour unto Thee, and the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, whereof we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan, full of good brethren, without the city walls, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we knew it not. He went on with his discourse, and we listened in intent silence. Then he told us how one afternoon at Trier, when the Emperor was taken up with the Circensian games, he and three others, his companions, went out to walk in gardens near the city walls, and there, as they happened to walk in pairs, one went apart with him, and the other two wandered by themselves; and these, in their wanderings, lighted upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Thy servants, poor in spirit, of whom is the kingdom of heaven, and there they found a little book containing the life of Anthony. One of them began to read it, and to admire and to be fired at it, and, as he read, to meditate embracing this manner of life, and giving up his secular state for Thy service. These two were what they call agents for public affairs. Then, suddenly filled with holy love and quiet indignation, in anger with himself, he looked at his friend, saying, "Do tell me what we are aiming at by all these labours of ours? what are we seeking? what are we contending for? Can our hopes at court rise higher than to be the Emperor's favourites? And is there anything in this which is not unstable and full of danger? By how many perils do we arrive at a greater peril? and when? But if I choose to be a friend of God, I can become one at once."

Thus he spoke, and in pain with the travail of a new life, he turned his eyes again upon the book, and read on, and was changed inwardly before Thy sight, and his mind was stripped of the world, as soon appeared. For as he read and his feelings were stirred up, he was vexed with himself for a bit, and then he discerned and determined on a better course. Being already Thine, he said to his friend, "Now I have broken with those worldly hopes of ours, and am resolved to serve God, and to begin from this very hour and place. If you do not care to imitate me, do not oppose me." The other answered that he would remain with him as the sharer of so glorious a reward and so great a service. Both being now Thine, they were building the tower at the necessary cost of forsaking all they had and following Thee.

Then Pontitianus, and the other with him, that had walked in other parts of the garden, came-in search of them to the same place, and finding them, reminded them to return, for the day was now far spent. But they, relating their resolution and purpose, and how that will had arisen and become strengthened in them, begged their friends, if they would not join, not to molest them. But the others, though in no wise changed from what they were before, were still grieved that they were the same (so he said), and piously congratulated their friends, recommending themselves to their prayers; and so, with hearts lingering on the earth, went away to the palace. The other two, however, fixing their heart on heaven, remained in the cottage. And both had affianced brides, who, when they heard of this resolution, also dedicated their virginity to God.

This was the story of Pontitianus; but Thou, O Lord, whilst he was speaking, didst force me to look at myself, taking me from behind my back, where I had placed myself, unwilling to observe myself. Thou didst set me before my face, that I might see how foul I was, how crooked and defiled, bespotted and ulcerous. And I looked and stood aghast, and there was no escape from myself. If I tried to turn my eyes away from myself, he went on telling his story, and Thou didst again bring me before my eyes and make me look at myself, that I might find out my iniquity and hate it. I had known it, but tried not to see it, winked at it, and forgot it.

Then, indeed, the more I loved those of whose holy affections I was hearing, who had given themselves wholly up to Thee to be cured, the more heartily I hated myself by comparison with them. For I had passed many years of my life, perhaps twelve, since, in my nineteenth year, after reading Cicero's Hortensius, I was moved to study wisdom; and instead of despising earthly happiness, so as to be able to give myself up to consider that of which not the possession, but the mere inquiry, was to be put before treasures even possessed, the kingdoms of the nations and the plenitude of all carnal delights, I procrastinated. Miserable, most miserable youth indeed that I was! at the beginning of that youth itself I had even asked Thee to give me chastity, and had said, "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." For I feared lest Thou shouldst quickly hear me, and cleanse me from the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to gratify, not to be delivered from. And I was walking by crooked ways in grievous depravity, not indeed secure in those ways, but as if preferring them to all others. I was in perverse opposition with regard to these latter, and did not honestly seek them.

I fancied it was because I had no certain light as to the direction of my life that I put off from day to day following Thee alone by despising all worldly hopes. The day came when my eyes were opened to myself, and the voice of my conscience asked me in a tone of reproach, "Where art thou, O tongue? For thou wert saying that thou wouldst not give up the yoke of vanity for an uncertain truth. See, now, it is certain, and it is still knocking at thy door, when those men, who have neither become broken by inquiry nor meditated on these things for ten years and more, put on wings, being less encumbered." Thus was I torn with anguish and buried in the depths of shame as Pontitianus went on telling his tale. Having said his say and finished his visit, he went away, and I returned into myself. What thought did not come into my head? With what cogent reasons did I not scourge my soul, that it might be one with me, who was striving to go after Thee? It was refractory; it refused, and did not excuse itself. Every argument was answered and overcome: a mute fear alone remained, which dreaded, like death, being restrained from the force of a habit which led to death.

In that great travail of my inner man which I had stirred up against my soul in the secret sanctuary of my heart, agitated both in face and in mind, I made a vehement appeal to Alypius. "What are we doing?" I exclaimed to him; "what is this? what did you hear? The unlearned rise up and take heaven by force; and look at us! we with our lifeless learning are immersed in flesh and blood. Because they have gone before us, are we to be ashamed of following? Are we not rather to be ashamed of not even following?" I said something, I know not what, to this effect, and my warmth tore me away from him as he looked at me in silent astonishment. Nor had my words their natural sound; my face and look, eyes, colour, and tone of voice spoke my mind better than the words which I uttered. Our establishment had a garden, which we used with the rest of the household, for the master of the house did not dwell in it. Thither I was drawn by my mental agitation. There no man would impede that burning struggle in which I was fighting against myself, until it should end in the way Thou didst know, though I did not know it. Only I was out of myself for my good, and I was dying a living death, conscious of my wickedness, unconscious of the good I was to reach in a short time.

I turned, therefore, into the garden, and Alypius followed closely after me. Nor did his company make my secret not mine; for would he ever forsake me in this frame of mind? We sat down as far from the house as possible. I was groaning in spirit, and was burning with indignation at my not accepting Thy pleasure, and making a compact with Thee, my God, for which acceptance all my bones were crying, and were sending to heaven the voice of praise. There was no getting there by ship or chariot or foot of man as quickly as I by one step had gone from the house into that place where we were sitting. For not only the going thither, but also the getting there, was nothing else than the will to go. This will should be strong and genuine, not a halfhearted will, which is irresolute and struggling, now with the wish to rise, now with the wish to fall.

Thus was I sick and in anguish, reproaching myself with more than usual severity, turning and re-turning in my chain, until its last snap should be broken; for, slight as it was, still it bound me; and Thou, O Lord, just Mercy, wert speaking to my secret heart, putting before me motives of fear and shame, lest I should again turn away, and that small and frail link which remained should not be broken, and should grow strong to bind me afresh. For I said to myself, "Let it be now, let it be now." And so I went on, contenting myself with words. I was already doing and not doing; neither did I fall back into my former ways, but I was standing still in near proximity to them, and taking my time. And again I tried, and was well-nigh successful, and had almost reached the mark and held it in my grasp; and still I fell short of it, and neither reached nor held it, hesitating to die to death and to live to life. I inclined rather to follow the worse course, which was familiar, than the better, which was unfamiliar; and as to that particular moment of time when I was to become different, the nearer it approached the more it struck me with horror. Only it did not vanish into the background, nor disappear, but was pending.

Small trifles, the vanity of vanities, the things which I had formerly loved, were holding me back. They were stirring up my covering of flesh, and murmuring, Wilt thou send us away? And from this time forth shall we be with thee no more? Wilt thou be unable to do such and such a thing for evermore? And what were the suggestions they made in saying "such and such a thing"? What indeed, my God? Let Thy mercy preserve the soul of Thy servant from them. What pollution and what shame! And I heard them with much less than half an ear, not contradicting me openly before my face, but, as it were, murmuring behind my back, and disappearing like a runaway thief to induce me to look round. Still they delayed me in my desire to tear myself away from them, and to go where I was called, because the strong force of habit said to me, "Dost thou think to do without these things?"

But already the suggestion was faintly made. For, in the direction in which I had turned my face, and whither I was fearing to pass, the pure glory of Chastity, with her serene and holy mirth, was disclosed to me. With honest words of encouragement she bade me come and not doubt, and held out her fair hands, full to overflowing with the examples of the good, to receive and embrace me. In them were crowds of boys and girls, and young people, and people of all ages; there were sober widows and aged virgins; and in no one of them was that same Chastity sterile, but she was the fruitful mother of sons of joy by Thee, O Lord, her spouse. And Chastity smiled at me in admonishment, as if to say, "Canst thou not do what these have done? or indeed can they do it of themselves, and not rather in the Lord their God? The Lord their God gave me to them; what art thou doing and not doing? Cast thyself upon Him: fear not; He will not leave thee to fall: cast thyself upon Him with confidence; He will receive and heal thee." And I was filled with great confusion, because I still heard the murmurings of my vanities, and hesitated in suspense. And again it seemed to me that Chastity spoke: "Turn a deaf ear on earth to those unclean members of thine, that they may be mortified. They speak to thee of delights, but they are not as the law of the Lord thy God." This struggle in my heart concerned only myself against myself. Alypius, who clung to my side, awaited in silence the issue of my unusual emotion.

But when earnest contemplation abstracted from the secret depth of conscience and brought before the eyes of my heart all my wretchedness, then a tempest broke, bringing with it a great fountain of tears. In order that I might give them full play, I got up and left Alypius; solitude seemed to me more suited to the shedding of tears, and I went far enough from him, so as not to feel the restraint of even his presence. This is how I was, and he thought I know not what. I believe I had said something in which the tone of my voice, struggling with sobs, had betrayed itself, and thus I had got up. He therefore remained where we had been sitting in great astonishment. I threw myself down, I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, and put no check upon my tears. The flood-gates of my soul poured forth a sacrifice acceptable to Thee. Not indeed in these words, but in the spirit of them, I spoke repeatedly to Thee: And Thou, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, wilt Thou be angry unto the end? Be not mindful of our former iniquities. For I felt that they held me captive, and was crying out in my anguish. "How long? how long is it to be to-morrow and to-morrow? Why not now? Why may not this very hour put an end to my shame?"

I was saying these things and weeping in the bitterest sorrow of heart; and all at once I heard a voice, like the voice of a boy or a girl, I know not which, coming from the next house, repeating over and over again in a musical tone, "Take and read; take and read." Composing myself instantly, I began most earnestly to ponder whether there was any game whatever in which children were wont to sing similar words, nor could I remember ever to have heard them before. The violence of my tears being checked, I rose, interpreting them in no other way than to mean that this was a Divine intimation to me to open the Scriptures and to read what first came in my way. For I had heard that Anthony was admonished by a chance reading of the Gospel, as if the words, Go, sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me, had been said to him, and that by this sign he had been at once converted to Thee. Thus minded, I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting, for I had put down the book of Epistles in coming away. I took it up, opened it, and read in silence the first chapter which met my eyes: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in concupiscence and impurity, not in contention and anger: but put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and provide not for the flesh in impure lusts. I would not read on, nor was there any need that I should. For I had no sooner read to the end of the sentence than a light as if of security being infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt was dissipated.

Then, having put my finger or some other mark in the place, I closed the book and passed it to Alypius with a countenance already composed. As to him, this was how he showed me what was going on in himself, which I did not know. He asked to see what I had been reading. I pointed it out to him, and he went on further than I, and I was not familiar with what followed, which was, but receive the weak man in faith. This he took for himself, and disclosed it to me. But he was strengthened by this advice, and without any painful hesitation he followed that which was in keeping with his life, by which he had far outdistanced me for a long time past. Then we went in to my mother with our story, which rejoiced her. We told her how it had happened, and her joy was triumphant. She praised Thee, Who art powerful to do more than we ask or can understand, because she saw Thou hadst given her more in my regard than she had been wont to ask Thee for by her sighs and tears. For Thou hadst so converted me to Thee that I sought neither for a wife nor for anything else in this world, holding that rule of faith which Thou hadst revealed to her so many years before that I should hold. And Thou didst turn her weeping into joy much more abundantly than she had desired, and concerning the relations due to my sin much more tenderly and chastely than she had demanded.

The First Motive for Conversion:
The Thought of Death and the Fear of Hell.

"And the rich man also died, and he was buried in hell."--Luke xvi. 22

Why serve the world, thy enemy,
And from thy thankless heart dethrone
That God, whose love created thee
To love and serve Himself alone?

Slave of a tyrant thou dost live;
He promises, and breaks his word;
And for thy service nought can give
But bitter thorns as thy reward.

Remember, death will come one day,
His touch thy fragile life destroys;
Then, then, alas! will fade away
Earth's cheating hopes and empty joys.

All worldly pleasures then will be
To thee but weariness and woe;
The scene of life must close for thee,
Thy part is played, and thou must go.

Forth flies the spirit from this clay,
Alone before its God to stand;
The soul scarce yet has passed away,
The Judge already is at hand.

Ah! miserable, thoughtless one!
Say, what excuse thou darest bring
Before that gaze of brightest sun,
The face of thy offended King.

What horror then the soul shall pierce,
When, spurned away by heavenly ire,
'Tis hurled into the torment fierce
Of never, never-ending fire.

Think, then, ere yet this life is o'er,
On that whereon thy all depends;
That evermore or nevermore,
Eternity which never ends.

The Second Motive for Conversion:
To delay Repentance is to expose Oneself to Destruction.

"Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day. For His wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance He will destroy thee."--Eccles. v. 8, 9

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Awake, O man awake:
If but one sin may take
Thy dreaming soul to death's dark goal
How canst thou sleep with sin upon they soul?

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

If but one mortal sin
An endless doom will win;
Can slumber be so sweet to thee
Upon the brink of thine eternity?

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Awake--put off thy sin,
A better life begin!
And, oh, confess thy sinfulness,
Lest, waking, thou shouldst wake to wretchedness.

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Arise, O man, arise!
Think how each moment flies;
Ah! dare not say--delay, delay--
Since thou to judgment mayst be called today.

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Oh, think, unhappy one!
That ere the set of sun,
Souls there will be, as brave as thee,
Cast out to weep for all eternity!

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Oh, rest not on thy bed
Again thy weary head,
Till thou hast striven to be forgiven--
Till thou thy wand'ring eyes hast turned to heaven.

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

Oh, look,--as yet thy God
Withholds the chastening rod!
How patiently He waits to be
Entreated that His love may shine on thee!

Awake, O soul, awake!
From sinful slumber break;
Life hurries by, oh, hear the cry!
Awake and tarry not--thy end is nigh!

The Third Motive for Conversion:
The Infinite Goodness and Love of God towards us.

"He that spared not even His own Son; but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things."--Rom. viii. 32

Oh, come to the merciful Saviour that calls you,
Oh, come to the Lord who forgives and forgets;
Though dark be the fortune on earth that befals you,
There's a bright home above where the sun never sets.

Oh, come then to Jesus, whose arms are extended
To fold His dear children in closest embrace!
Oh, come, for your exile will shortly be ended,
And Jesus will show you His beautiful face.

Have you sinned as none else in the world have before you?
Are you blacker than all other creatures in guilt?
Oh, fear not! oh, fear not! the mother that bore you
Loves you less than the Saviour whose blood you have spilt!

Oh, come, then, to Jesus and say how you love Him,
And swear at His feet you will keep in His grace;
For one tear that is shed by a sinner can move Him,
And your sins will drop off in His tender embrace.

Then come to His feet, and lay open your story
Of suffering and sorrow, of guilt and of shame;
For the pardon of sin is the crown of His glory,
And the joy of our Lord to be true to His name.

The Fourth Motive for Conversion:
The Infinite Yearning of Jesus Christ for our Salvation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how ofton would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not."--Matt, xxiii. 37

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

Was there ever kindest shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet
As the Saviour who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

There's a widenesa in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea:
There's a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
Are more felt than up in heaven;
There is no place where earth's failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour;
There is healing in His blood.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man's mind,
And the Heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

There is plentiful redemption
In the Blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrow of the Head.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

The Work of Grace

"Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts!"--Ps. xciv. 8

How the light of heaven is stealing
Gently o'er the trembling soul!
And the shades of bitter feeling
From the lightened spirit roll!
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

Fairer than the pearly morning
Comes the softly struggling ray;
Ah, it is the very dawning
That precedes eternal day!
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

See the tears, the blessed trouble
Doubts and fears, and hopes and smiles!
How the guilt of sin seems double,
And how plain are Satan's wiles!
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

Now the light is growing brighter,
Fear of hell and hate of sin;
Another flash! the heart is lighter;
Love of God hath entered in.
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

See, more light! the spirit tingles
With contrition's piercing dart;
More, and love divinely mingles
Ease and gladness with the smart.
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

Free! the joyous light of heaven
Comes with, full and fair release;
O God, what light! all sin forgiven;
Jesus, Mary, love, and peace.
Sweetly stealing, sweetly stealing,
See how grace its way doth feel.

Colloquy between the Good Shepherd and the Sinner

"What man is there of you that hath an hundred sheep, and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which is lost until he find it? and when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders rejoicing."--Luke xv. 4, 5

The Good Shepherd

Return to God, poor sinner, it is meet--
Delay no more to bend thy rebel knee.
His holy law thou'st broken; I entreat,
Return to Him, who seeketh after thee.


Behold, O Lord! this lost and straying sheep
Whom Thou didst degn to seek for, oh! how long!
Aroused at last from its long deadly sleep,
Guilty, confused, this heart repents its wrong.

The Good Shepherd

To call thee back My voice has long resounded,
I've followed thee with blessings far and near,
Wounding thy God's--a Father's heart thou'st wounded,
Ungrateful still wilt thou refuse to hear?


Ah! dearest Lord! I sought, but sought in vain
A spot where I might lose the dread of Thee,
Wand'ring and lost, how could I know but pain,
Estranged from Thee--and Thou estranged from me?

The Good Shepherd

Now grief, now joy; now terror and remorse,
In tender love I sent thee o'er and o'er.
With grace I tried to stay thy headlong course,
My grace was spurned--but still offer more.


My Lord! I do repent me sore and sadly,
Yea, Father! tho' I've sinned 'gainst Thee and heaven.
Forgive, forget the course I've run so madly,
And breathe the blest, the sweet word--thou'rt forgiven.

The Good Shepherd

Repentant child, thy heart is all I seek,
And when thy heart is given all to Me,
My mercy takes thy service, rendered meek,
And rains down grace and love unceasingly.


My God! how good Thou art to all of those,
Who with sincere repentance Thee implore;
With grief and love my swelling heart o'erflows,
Oh, give me grace to love Thee evermore.

Hymn of Thanks to the Good Shepherd
by one who has been brought back to the Fold.

"I am the Good Shepherd, and I know Mine and Mine, know Me."--John X. 14

I was wandering and weary.
When my Saviour came unto me;
For the ways of sin grew dreary,
And the world had ceased to woo me.
And I thought I heard Him say,
As He came along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear Me;
I am the Shepherd true.

At first I would not hearken,
And put off till the morrow;
But life began to darken,
And I was sick with sorrow;
And I thought I heard Him say,
As He came along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear Me;
I am the Shepherd true!

At last I stopped to listen,
His voice could not deceive me;
I saw His kind eyes glisten,
So anxious to relieve me:
And I thought I heard Him say,
As He came along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear me;
I am the Shepherd true!

He took me on His shoulder,
And tenderly He kissed me;
He bade my love be bolder,
And said how He had missed me;
And I'm sure I heard Him say,
As He went along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear Me;
I am the Shepherd true!

I thought His love would weaken,
As more and more He knew me;
But it burned like a beacon,
And its light and heat go through me;
And I ever hear Him say,
As He goes along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear Me;
I am the Shepherd true!

Let us do, then, dearest Brothers,
What will best and longest please us.
Follow not the ways of others,
But trust ourselves to Jesus;
We shall ever hear Him say,
As He goes along His way,
O silly souls, come near Me;
My sheep should never fear Me;
I am the Shepherd true!

Act of Contrition

"In the multitude of Thy mercy, hoar me, O Lord.--Psa. lxviii. 14

God of mercy and compassion!
Look with pity upon me!
Father! let me call Thee Father!
'Tis Thy child returns to Thee!

Jesus! Lord! I ask for mercy.
Let me not implore in vain!
All my sins--I now detest them
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery;
Hell, with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity!

Jesus! Lord! I ask for mercy.
Let me not implore in vain!
All my sins--I now detest them
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heaven above;
Where the saints rejoice for ever
In a boundless sea of Love.

Jesus! Lord! I ask for mercy.
Let me not implore in vain!
All my sins--I now detest them
Never will I sin again.

See our Saviour, bleeding, dying,
On the Cross of Calvary;
To that Cross my sins have nailed Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.

Jesus! Lord! I ask for mercy.
Let me not implore in vain!
All my sins--I now detest them
Never will I sin again.

Act of Supplication--Sorrow for Sin

"A contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise."--Psa. I. 19

Jesus, my Lord, behold at length the time
When I resolve to turn away from crime.
Oh, pardon me, Jesus;
Thy mercy I implore;
I will never more offend Thee,
No, never more.

Since my poor soul Thy Precious Blood hath cost,
Suffer me not for ever to be lost.
Oh, pardon me, Jesus;
Thy mercy I implore;
I will never more offend Thee,
No, never more.

Kneeling in tears, behold me at Thy feet;
Like Magdalene, forgiveness I entreat.
Oh, pardon me, Jesus;
Thy mercy I implore;
I will never more offend Thee,
No, never more.

Act of Sorrow for Sin--Regret of the Past

"Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities."--Ps. cxviii. 163

My God, grant by my tears,
The sins of years I may efface;
Thy mercies still increase,
And all my bonds release;
I can no longer live in Thy disgrace.
Have mercy, Jesus! Sovereign Good!
Spare me through Thy Precious Blood.

Alas I in sinful ways
I've passed my days,
From earliest youth: E'en until now my time
Hath been one course of crime.
Oh, how I've strayed from Thee, Eternal Truth!
Have mercy, Jesus! Sovereign Good!
Spare me through Thy Precious Blood.

How oft on me, Thy child,
Thy grace hath smiled
To win my love!
But cold and heartless I did from my Father fly;
And turn my back on Thee, my God above.
Have mercy, Jesus! Sovereign Good!
Spare me through Thy Precious Blood.

Alas! how near my share
Was black despair, in endless pains!
My God! that dreadful fire,
Enkindled by Thine ire!
How could I dwell therein bound down in chains!
Have mercy, Jesus! Sovereign Good!
Spare me through Thy Precious Blood.

Behold me at Thy feet,
Spare I entreat Thy suppliant child.
For me was pierced the side
Of Jesus crucified;
In mercy look upon His face so mild.
Have mercy, Jesus! Sovereign Good!
Spare me through Thy Precious Blood.

Act of Detestation of Sin, and Firm Purpose of Amendment for the Future
"I have hated and abhorred iniquity."--Ps. cxviii. 163

My God, who art nothing but mercy and kindness,
Oh, shut not Thine ear to the penitent's prayer;
'Tis Thy grace that hath cured me, dear Lord, of my blindness,
Thy love that hath lifted me up from despair.

There is not one evil that sin hath not brought me,
There is not one good that hath come in its train;
It hath cursed me through life, and its sorrows have sought me,
Each day that went by, in want, sickness, or pain.

I abjure the dark spirit who fondles yet hates me;
I abjure mortal sin, the black gift he hath given;
I hate it for fear of the fire that awaits me,
I hate it for hope of God's beautiful heaven.

I hate it because the dear Lord that would ease us
Sweated Blood when He thought of the horror of sin;
I hate it because it hath crucified Jesus,
Who hath done all He can the worst sinners to win.

And I swear to Thee, yes, dearest Jesus, oh, let me,
In the strength of Thy grace, swear an oath unto Thee;
No sin! never more! if Thou wilt not forget me,
But in Thy sweet mercy have mercy on me.

Prayer To Obtain Grace To Conquer Our Passions
St. Johns Manual, 1856

Holy God, Father of mercies, who hast created me only to serve thee in the liberty of thy children, permit not that I should longer be subject to the degrading slavery of my passions, and assist me in the struggles, without which I can never hope to escape from their oppressive bondage. O Lord, thou knowest my weakness, and the strength of the enemies who have dominion over me; thou art the continual witness of my faults and miseries; I am puffed up with pride; my feelings are embittered by resentment and ill-humor; I am indolent in the discharge of duty, and the few good works I perform are corrupt by self-love, which insinuates itself into my best actions. O my God, how wretched a slavery for a soul, which, notwithstanding these and innumerable other miseries, desires to belong unreservedly to Thee alone! My resolution is taken; whatever it may cost me, I am determined to listen no more to the dangerous suggestions of my evil inclinations, but to avoid sin and conquer the passions which unhappily lead to it. In thy name, O Almighty God, I will take up arms against the enemies, which so many others have happily combated with the assistance of Thy grace. In Thy name, also, I hope to gain the victory, through the merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest one God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer To Obtain The Conversion Of Sinners.
St. Johns Manual, 1856

O God, have mercy on me a sinner, and permit me to offer Thee my earnest supplications on behalf of all souls in sin; for thou willest not the death of a sinner, but his conversion: When Moses besought Thee to pardon a rebellious nation, Thou couldst not resist his entreaties. It grieves Thee, when none interpose to appease Thine anger; Thou commandest us to pray for one another, assuring us that by causing a sinner to be converted from the error of his ways, we deliver our own souls from death, and cover a multitude of iniquities. Relying on Thy merciful promises, I come before Thee with great confidence, to implore for others the pity I so much need myself. Forgive them, O Lord! for they know not what they do; open their eyes, that entering into themselves, they may see the extent of their crimes, and feel how sad a misfortune it is to have forsaken Thee. Open their ears to the sound of that Almighty voice, which can raise the dead to life; soften the obduracy of their hearts, that they may no longer resist Thy grace. Remember Thy tender mercies; remember the precious blood of Jesus Christ; save the souls which have been purchased at so great a price. Hear our prayers, inspired by the Spirit of Thine own charity, and offered from the sole motive of pleasing and glorifying Thee. Amen.

A Sinner's Prayer
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

O my most sweet Mother, how shall I die, poor sinner that I am? Even now the thought of that important moment when I must expire, and appear before the judgment-seat of God, and the remembrance that I have myself so often written my condemnation by consenting to sin, makes me tremble. I am confounded, and fear much for my eternal salvation. O Mary, in the blood of Jesus, and in thy intercession, is all my hope. Thou art the Queen of Heaven, the mistress of the universe; in short, thou art the Mother of God. Thou art great, but thy greatness does not prevent, nay, even it inclines thee to greater compassion towards us in our miseries. Worldly friends when raised to dignity disdain to notice their former friends who may have fallen into distress. Thy noble and loving heart does not act thus, for the greater the miseries it beholds the greater are its efforts to relieve. Thou, when called upon, dost immediately assist; nay, more, thou dost anticipate our prayers by thy favors; thou consolest us in our afflictions; thou dissipatest the storms by which we are tossed about; thou overcomest all enemies; thou, in fine, never losest an occasion to promote our welfare.

May that Divine hand which has united in thee such majesty and such tenderness, such greatness and so much love, be forever blessed! I thank my Lord for it, and congratulate myself in having so great an advantage; for truly in thy felicity do I place my own, and I consider thy lot as mine. O comfortress of the afflicted, console a poor creature who recommends himself to thee. The remorse of a conscience overburdened with sins fills me with affliction. I am in doubt as to whether I have sufficiently grieved for them. I see that all my actions are sullied and defective; Hell awaits my death in order to accuse me; the outraged justice of God demands satisfaction. My Mother, what will become of me? If thou dost not help me, I am lost. What sayest thou, wilt thou assist me? O compassionate Virgin, console me; obtain for me true sorrow for my sins; obtain for me strength to amend, and to be faithful to God during the rest of my life. And finally, when I am in the last agonies of death, O Mary, my hope, abandon me not; then, more than ever, help and encourage me, that I may not despair at the sight of my sins, which the evil one will then place before me.

My Lady, forgive my temerity; come thyself to comfort me with thy presence in that last struggle. This favor thou hast granted to many, grant it also to me. If my boldness is great, thy goodness is greater; for it goes in search of the most miserable to console them. On this I rely. For thy eternal glory, let it be said that thou hast snatched a wretched creature from Hell, to which he was already condemned, and that thou hast led him to thy kingdom. Oh, yes, sweet Mother, I hope to have the consolation of remaining always at thy feet in heaven, thanking and blessing and loving thee eternally. O Mary, I shall expect thee at my last hour; deprive me not of this consolation. Fiat, fiat. Amen, amen.