Can you know when an act of contrition is "perfect"

Maybe I misunderstand the concept. “Perfect” seems out of our reach. What is an “imperfect” act of contrition?

I have heard anecdotal accounts of a peace coming over someone with perfect contrition.

What is perfect and imperfect contrition?


1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

Can we know when an act of contrition is perfect?

Depends on what one means by “can you know?” - I would say that one can have some indications - but not some “absolute” knowledge.

Remember too that contrition of either kind is not really a matter of emotions (some are confused about this) -though emotions can be involved and be very good and make it better. It is more a matter of grace and of will.

And also recall that one needs only "imperfect contrition in confession - though let us seek perfect.

And venial sins can be forgiven in many ways (though confession is important to go to regularly) - including imperfect contrition, prayer, acts of love, prayerful use of Holy Water, Holy Communion, read Sacred Scripture etc etc.

Thank you for that post. It makes perfect sense.

Interesting post.

How do you wash away your venial sins with Holy Water other than Baptism?

Prayerful use of Holy Water as a sacramental has long been seen to be one way (among many) for the forgiveness of venial sins. The prayer of the Church (blessing) is involved -and the use of Holy water involves a movement of the reverence or love for God.

I suppose you would know when an act of contrition is perfect when either you are in the confessional. (because that is part of a perfect act of contrition) Or when you are dead but not in hell. (because that is what would happen if the act was perfect but you were not able to make it to confession.)

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