Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 27, 2023

What “to give up” for Lent?

Many suggestions are coming forth from pulpits this week as Lent begins – suggestions on “Lenten sacrifices.”

My comment (question, really) concerning the many many short-cut suggestions:  What does God want from us?

Psalm 51, from USCCB website:

Ps 51:3
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word,
and without reproach in your judgment.
Behold, I was born in guilt,
in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,
and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.
Lord, you will open my lips;
and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.
Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,
burnt offering and whole offerings;
then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.


[To the one praying: Repeat, slowly, carefully, prayerfully – until you hear and understand this prayer, and are on your knees sobbing for your sins and all the sins of Zion, His Holy Church, in Jerusalem and in the Vatican and in Catholic and Christian churches throughout the world.]


  1. Several years ago, I was given Psalm 51 to read as penance. Since I refer to it often. I recite 51:12 many times during each day. It really helps.

  2. Thomas, this Psalm is so beautiful. It should bring everyone of us to our knees before God. We should not commit sin any day, at any time, not just at lent. Again, thanks for posting this.

  3. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for this post, written yesterday. Sorry to be late today, but grateful and happy to see posts from both fforcion and Susan.

    This beautiful psalm is one I have prayed many times and continue to be blessed by it. It is a psalm taught to me in Latin many years ago and although I cannot remember all of the Latin words now, I still remember how it has remained within me.

    Merciful is our God and Savior!

  4. St Benedict, in his rule for beginners indicates (rules 12 & 13) that the celebration of lauds should always include Psalms 66 and 50 (traditional numeration Psalms 67 and 51 with modern enumeration).

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