Act of Contrition

What does that mean exactly? I went to confession the other day and Father told me to perform an act of contrition but i dont know what that means… Is it just like an act of kindness or something?

Did he say “perform” or “say” or “pray” an act of contrition?

Usually we get told to say or pray an Act of Contrition which is a prayer.
Here’s an example or two-

O 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.


My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In chooosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy.


Some people keep it really simple and something like-
Lord, have mercy on me, A Sinner.

Search Act of Contrition for more examples

There’s several. You probably want to memorize one because many priests expect you to pray it there in the confessional. Or you could buy a prayer card ( or make one) to carry with you to confession.

I was told to “make” an Act of Contrition. As the others said, it basically acknowledging your sorrow at having offended God and resolving to do better with His help. Most often, I think, people use a formal prayer, but there is nothing wrong with using your own words.

ok thanks that answers my questions. It had just been so long since i’d been to confession that i really didnt know where to start.

Saved, God bless you and Welcome Home! Trust me, it gets easier. :slight_smile:

Question: Can I just go to God with mortal sins?

If not, what if I commit a mortal sin, and on my way to confession I get hit by a car and die? :shrug:

The church teaches that all mortal sins must be confessed to a priest.

If you get hit by a bus on the way to confession, you’re in God’s hands. I like to think that He would know exactly where we were going and not hold it against us that we had an unplanned detour, but I can’t really say exactly what he would do. I guess it would depend on any number of things…

We perform acts - and the priest wanted you to make an act (or performance) of your contrition by having you say the formal prayer called “Act of Contrition” or by having you make up your own spontaneous prayer of contrition (“Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner, etc…”) Contrition is a confession requirement and performing an act of contrition before the priest formally shows our sorrow and meets the requirement for the priest.

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