Act of Contrition


In many of the parishes in the cities of Bismarck-Mandan, ND (of which Bismarck in the see of the diocese), confessors do not ask for an act of contrition after the confession of sins and before the absolution. Is a verbal act of contrition required within the confessional in order for the Sacrament to be valid?


No, it is not required for validity. It is actually up to confessor whether to have you say the Act of Contrition or not.


Here and Mexico, and in the US, I actually found many confessors not ask for an act of contrition. I just leave the confessional and try to remember to say them along with the penance. Come to think of it…thanks for reminding me!!! :slight_smile:


If you feel you need to; you can add an Act of Contrition to your penance prayers.:bible1:
Pax et Bonum




I have not been asked for an Act of Contrition since the 80s and that’s in at least 5 different parishes and dioceses.


It’s certainly not part of the validity of the sacrament. I think it has a lot to do with formation and local culture; I’ve had confessors on both sides of the fence. (I generally feel more comfortable saying it, but that’s just me…) :slight_smile:


I am a RCIA candidate, this is something our class has not yet discussed. I had always assumed the Act of Contrition was a necessary part of the Sacrament. Thanks for an interesting post.


I am a RCIA candidate, this is something our class has not yet discussed. I had always assumed the Act of Contrition was a necessary part of the Sacrament. Thanks for an interesting post.


I've been to confession dozens of times this year, which sounds like a lot until you realize I hadn't been at all since 1999......LOL

In all but one this year, and these are at various parishes across the country, I'm always asked for the act of contrition. The one time I didn't, I had said how sorry I was at the end of my list of sins.

I believe it's the absolution that is 'required'.


I thought a priest has to have some sort of understanding that a person is actually contrite before giving absolution, that being predicated upon the fact that the absolution doesn't "do" anything unless the person is contrite??

What, outside of an act of contrition, would make a priest aware that a person is contrite?


My manner while asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness after listing my sins. Even saying the listed act of contrition doesn’t make one feel sorry or ashamed. It can be contrived. I didn’t recite the form, but my contrition was obvious.


I would assume that a person’s presence and demeanor at confession would indicate contrition to the priest.


For example, beating one’s chest with words “Lord, have mercy on me sinner.” after being given the penance, or adding “I am sorry” to the list of sins, as is traditionally done in Lithuania. Act of contrition is not the only option, although it seems to be the option used in USA (where, of course, the original poster is from).


I’ve never heard of a priest refusing absolution due to a perceived lack of contrition. That would be between the sinner and God.


I’ve never heard of it either, but that doesn’t mean it can’t (or doesn’t) happen. If a penitent is not properly disposed, the priest is supposed to withhold absolution. I suppose this would normally only occur if the penitient were to tell the priest that he was not contrite, but in theory, the priest could perceive the lack of contrition.



I live in the Bismarck Diocese and have been to confession with many different priests from different towns and parishes and have always been asked to do an act of contrition. The diocese up here is very traditional and I just have a hard time believing this.


I guess I don’t know what part of the diocese you are from, but having come from the Fargo diocese to the Bismarck two years ago I don’t feel that this diocese is very traditional, except when I’m at the Cathedral, which while nothing spectacular to look at, does have a traditional and reverent community.

Nonetheless, this happens regularly in most parishes in the city of Bismarck except for the Cathedral and St. Anne’s (where I’ve never had it happen), and happens off and on in the city of Mandan with the exception of the Spirit of Life parish.


I guess that makes sense because the two parishes in Bismarck/Mandan I’ve been to are the Cathedral (with I think is very pretty) and Spirit of Life (I love the priest there). I am from Minot and have gone to confession with almost every priest that is in our town (including the retired ones) and they all ask for the act of contrition. The St. Leos and Little Flower Parishes are VERY traditional…especially St. Leos.


The only necessary parts are:

  1. Recitation of all known un-confessed mortal sins.

  2. Contrition for those sins (imperfect contrition due to fear of Hell is sufficient)

  3. The priest saying the appropriate words of absolution. In the Latin Rite the critical words are “I absolve you”/Te Absolvo or the appropriate translation. Other rites have different wording.

God Bless

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