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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5 thoughts on “An Act of Contrition

  1. Pingback: 20 Different Ways to Spiritually Protect Yourself and Your Family - Catholic Ace

  2. nancy M Kobylarz

    My goodness, I did not realize there were so many mortal sins. I have left the Catholic Church fo4 13 years and have been thinking of coming back. But I do not think you want me. I am living a quiet life as I have Parkinson’s, bipolar and mild dementia. But the Catholic Church is too harsh on people. It is difficult to come back to the Church that has hurt me so much. I had a difficult childhood and the Church was never there for me.

    1. Anonymouse

      I’ve felt similar about it in the past, sometimes a rule may feel so unjust, sometimes you just feel like there is no point because you’ll never be as perfect as the saints, along with many other thoughts, these thoughts, unresolved, can easily drive someone mad.

      There are authorities out there that you can consult on these questions that you have (the Bible itself being the primary one), matters that may really confusing or stressful or downright absurd can make you want to abandon the faith because it seems unjust, although sometimes these ideas you may have are misunderstandings that result from translations not being very sufficient (This in particular happens with a lot of Greek words, they have multiple variations of a word that the English language doesn’t have, but there are people on the internet and other places that can help out with determining what these mean,) or are from a bad source (unfortunately, it seems some priests have been spreading some wrong ideas about certain topics.)

      I’m deeply sorry that you’ve had bad experiences with the Catholic Church, as well as the difficult childhood, I don’t know what that feels like, but I pray that you will be able to have your questions answered and be able to join the Catholic Church again, we do want you, God wants you, I’m sorry if anyone has made you feel otherwise, God made you something beautiful and sin is not what defines who you are, it doesn’t define who anyone is, it’s something we can escape from. I know it can be a struggle, but God wants to help you through it, stay well Nancy, God bless you.


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