New Wineskins & Grace
It is contrition that disposes us to receive new graces, that increases our hope and enables us to avoid routine. It makes a Christian forget himself and turn to God once again with a still deeper act of love. Contrition brings with it an aversion from sin and conversion to Christ. This heart-felt sorrow is not the same as the state of mind brought about by the unpleasant effects of having sinned — the breakdown of family harmony, the end of a friendship.
It is not even the same as wishing that we had not done a particular thing. . . It is the definite condemnation of an action, the conversion towards what is good, towards God's holiness which is manifested for us in Christ. It is the irruption of a new life into the soul, a life filled with love when it finds itself once more with God. This is why a person does not know how to repent, cannot be moved to contrition, if he does not relate his sins, be they large or small, to God.
Before Jesus, all our actions take on their true dimension. If we were simply to stop at our faults, without any reference to the person who has been offended, we would probably seek to justify our faults and sins and give little importance to them. On the other hand we might find ourselves filled with discouragement and despair in the face of so much error and omission. God teaches us to acknowledge the truth of our lives, and in spite of all our wretchedness and defects, He fills us with peace and the desire to improve and to start again.
The humble soul feels the need to ask God for forgiveness many times each day. Each time she separates herself from what God has expected of her, she sees the need to return, like the prodigal son, with true sorrow:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants. And Our Lord, who is close to those of contrite heart will hear our prayer. With this spirit of contrition the soul is constantly prepared to receive the new wine of grace.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp.55-56