An Act of Contrition

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act of contrition

Julian Fałat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

The Sinner’s Guide

Imperfect Contrition (attrition):
Imperfect Contrition is the hatred of sin that arises not of love of God but, from any other motive, such as ” loss of heaven, fear of hell, or the heinousness of guilt.” According to the Council of Trent, it is still a good thing. New Advent Encyclopedia.

Most of the time, we achieve imperfect contrition.

Get into the habit of saying an Act of Contrition regularly – maybe at the end of the day.  Doing this will stir up in your heart an intense desire to avoid sin.

Learn an easy method to pray an Act of Perfect Contrition.

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