Every Friday morning, priests and religious and a great many lay people read this psalm during their morning prayer. It is penitential in character and goes to the heart of what we are striving for this Lenten season: a humbled and contrite heart. Some years ago after a confession, my confessor asked me to pray this entire psalm slowly and deliberately. Today we hear this psalm in the Mass and as we continue to cleanse our hearts of sin during our Lenten journey, I also invite you to pray this beautiful psalm slowly and deliberately at some point today, for we are all longing for clean hearts and the psalmist recognizes that the only one who can provide this clean and pure heart is the Lord. So go, get your Bible, pray Psalm 51, or if you want to simply meditate on the six verses read at Mass today, here you go:
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.