Confession: is the act of contrition optional?


#1

Usually when I go to confession, after the priest prescribes a penance, he tells me to say my act of contrition, then when I'm done he says the words of absolution.

However, there's one priest who skips from giving me my penance straight to absolution.

Is this permissible? Against the rules but still valid?

If I already concluded the confession part with an expression of remorse, does that make a difference? Maybe he treats that "for these and all my many sins, I am truly sorry" as an act of contrition in itself, even though it does not contain a purpose of amendment?

Is it also true that before Vatican II, the penitent would say the act of contrition (in English) during the words of absolution (in Latin)? (I saw it done like that on a TV drama... so it must be true!) Maybe the priest is old-school, and I should just say the act while he's giving me absolution?

Thanks!


#2

I can't say for sure that an act of contrition is required. There is nothing in Canon Law that says it is - all that is required is:
(a) Valid Confessor
(b) You
(c) You confess your sins in kind and number
(d) You are sorry for them and have a purpose of amendment (this would be where some form of contrition would come in)
(e) Father absolves you

I would love to hear about forms of confession in other langauges and cultures to see if there is a universal norm or recommended practice.

I do know that when we do penance services Father will often have everyone say an Act of Contrition together before we break off for individual confessions.


#3

[quote="tollelege, post:1, topic:287043"]
Is it also true that before Vatican II, the penitent would say the act of contrition (in English) during the words of absolution (in Latin)? (I saw it done like that on a TV drama... so it must be true!) Maybe the priest is old-school, and I should just say the act while he's giving me absolution?

Thanks!

[/quote]

It still happens today. I confessed to a priest who used the Latin form and he did just that. I am not sure if he used the rite from 1962 or the modern one, but he celebrates public masses in the OF.


#4

It is my understanding that the actual Act of Contrition is not obligatory. What is, however, is that you are truly sorry for your sins and intend on avoiding them in the future, and that the Confessor is convinced of that. The Act is a convenient way to do it, because it expresses both imperfect (get punished) and perfect (hurts God) contrition (sorrow), and that you will "go and sin no more".

If your conscience bothers you, feel free to say one anyway, perhaps even to yourself during the Absolution. I have had certain Confessors (very orthodox) have me say mine during the Absolution. And certainly adding one to your Penance is not a bad thing. But again it is not obligatory.


#5

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