This prayer to strengthen resolutions after Confession reminds us of the importance of our having an ongoing relationship with God, and how vital that is for us to advance in Holiness! You might well leave the Confessional with a great sense of relief and love at having your sins forgiven by our Lord through the priest acting in His name.
But, now that you’ve been fully restored into God’s friendship, don’t let it stop there! This prayer reminds us of how important it is to partake of the graces to resist sin that you’ve been given through the Sacrament of Penance.
Almighty and most merciful God, because of Your great mercy You have been pleased to admit me once more to this Sacrament of forgiveness. You have received me, though I have often gone astray from You. I was an outcast, but You welcomed me back as a friend. I thank you with all my heart for Your infinite mercy and kindness towards me, an ungrateful sinner. In union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Refuge of sinners, I thank You for all the graces and blessings You have bestowed upon me in this Sacrament of Penance. My dear God, I now renew the promises I have made in Baptism, and I give myself eternally to Your love and service. Give me the grace in the future to hate sin more than death itself and to avoid all such occasions and company as have in the past unhappily brought me to it. Help me, O Lord, for I am weak. Strengthen my resolutions and give me sufficient grace to overcome the evil promptings of my nature. Never permit me to wound You again by my sins. Refresh my soul that I may become strong in my determination to perform the duties of my state of life properly and fearlessly. Through Your divine grace, without which I can do nothing, help me to live a good life, die a happy death, save my immortal soul, and be happy with You for all eternity in heaven. Amen.
Do the resolutions mentioned above seem like too tall an order? Just remember that, as we read in scripture, “With God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Perhaps you've heard from another famous scripture passage that even “a just man falls [into sin] seven times” from the book of Proverbs, verse 24:16. (Many people read this as being seven times a day!)
That’s not hard, considering that the temptations of the world are all around us. We can find them in our workplaces, our schools, and even in our homes, through TV and the internet.
This is especially the case now in our relativistic culture. Our society seems to have lost all sense of sin, thinking that, if sin exists at all, it is in the eye of the beholder. And yet, so many struggle with alcoholism, pornography, drugs, eating disorders, and other such vices that become habits!
It is easy in such an environment to feel that all is lost. Yet God wants to save us from our sins and from our “evil promptings”. That was the whole point of his Passion, death and resurrection.
In this regard, the rest of that famous line from Proverbs, although less well-known, is certainly inspiring: “and rises up again”! This prayer above makes a good antidote to despair when you find yourself struggling with sins.
The important thing is to keep close to our Lord after your confession, with great humility and a sense of determination to avoid “such occasions and company” that might land you in trouble again (what recovery programs refer to as “people, places and things”).
This might not be easy. (You may lose acquaintances that you thought were friends, for example.) Giving up sinful habits or lifestyles is not easy, especially at first. As you take up your cross as our Lord took up His, remember that the road to Heaven goes through Calvary for each of us in different ways.
That’s where prayer and the Sacraments of the Eucharist (at Mass) and Penance (confession) become so important. You weren't meant to attain Eternal Life without God’s grace and aid. The key words in this prayer above are “help me!”
Turn to God constantly, and with true humility (a virtue that St. Cyprian once called “the foundation of sanctity”) in your trying times, and He will see you through them. Out Lord will help you to carry your crosses. When you fall, rise up again by examining your conscience and getting back to confession whenever needed.
And keep seeking God’s grace after every confession. It’s an important part of His friendship, after all. And a humble, sincere confession always renews that friendship that He very much wants to have with you, and with each of us!