An Act of Contrition

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This traditional act of contrition is a favorite among Catholics. Even though there are other variations, we find ourselves coming back to this one over and over.

litany of humility

Oh, my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.


When should I say an act of contrition?

  • In the confessional, after you have confessed your sins. Sometimes the priests may ask you to say the act of contrition outside the confessional if time is limited.
  • Anytime you want to express your sorrow and repentance for your sin.

What is the difference between a  Perfect Contrition & Imperfect Contrition?

Perfect Contrition:

Perfect contrition. Sorrow for sin arising from perfect love. In perfect contrition the sinner detests sin more than any other evil, because it offends God, who is supremely good and deserving of all human love. Its motive is founded on God’s own goodness and not merely his goodness to the sinner or to humanity. This motive, and not the intensity of the act, less still the feelings experienced, is what essentially constitutes perfect sorrow…

Perfect contrition removes the guilt and eternal punishment due to grave sin even before sacramental absolution. However, a Catholic is obliged to confess his or her grave sins at the earliest opportunity and may not, in normal circumstances, receive Communion before he or she has been absolved by a priest in the sacrament of penance.  Colin B. Donovan, STL on EWTN.

Check out a very simple way to make an act of perfect contrition.

Imperfect Contrition

Imperfect contrition arises from “any other motive, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, or the heinousness of guilt, then it is termed imperfect contrition, or attrition.” Source.

Don’t spend time worrying about whether your contrition is perfect or not. What’s important is that you do have contrition for your sins.

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