Contrition After Absolution

Good morning!
I was reading in my religion textbook this morning about Contrition and the Purpose of Amendment, and it says, “Without contrition no sin is ever forgiven. Hence the act of contrition must be made before confession or at least before absolution is given.” This worries me because the priest that always holds confession at my parish has us say the Act of Contrition as part of our penance along with some other prayers. Since my act of contrition is made after absolution, am I am not being forgiven? Thank you!

  • Stephie


Contrition in this sense is meant sorrow for your sins. Without sorrow for your sins there can be no forgiveness. There is also imperfect contrition which is fear of condemnation which with the sacrament of reconcillation can suffice for forgiveness.
What you are reading does not apply to the ‘act of contrition’ which is a prayer.

Thank you! I am glad that all my past confessions have been invalid! :slight_smile:

:confused: Why did you go to confession? If you went because of sorrow or your sins the you were forgiven, if you when because you feared hell then you were still forgiven.
The ‘act of contrition’ is a prayer admitting your weaknesses and your inability to do it all on your own.

Really? I would have rather hoped they were valid:shrug::smiley:

Oops! Sorry for the typo! I meant to say I was happy that they haven’t been invalid.

Oops! :blush:


Good catch.

If I am reading your OP correctly and there is not a formal act/prayer of contrition at the beginning of ‘your’ confession, and in only happens after absolution, then it seems the priest has seriously slipped up [as you have if you were in full awareness], and put the cart before the horse so to speak.

I would go to another priest, and without naming name [up front anyway], ask his advice. It seems to me that what was going on in your mind regarding contrition was the crucial thing, but the priest [normally] is no mind reader, and he should have required to hear your act of contrition first, and not just the hopefully short list of sins of commission or omission. As I say, it appears he has slipped up, but if you were unaware until now the issue has not lain with you - your official confession in the eyes of God, until now anyway should hold.

], and put the cart before the horse so to speak.

I would go to another priest, and without naming name [up front anyway], ask his advice.

You read that correctly. He seems to be a very good priest, and he gives me awesome advice, but I did notice this, and I was concerned. Whenever another priest from the same parish offers confessions, they do it the traditional way. He is the only priest that I have ever experienced this with before. If I don’t have the opportunity to go to another priest, which I often don’t, would it be alright for me to say an Act of Contrition before Confession?

Before you even get to uttering a word, you should first be truly sorry. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes contrition as sorrow of soul, horror of the sin, and resolve to amend one’s life. If you have each of these but forget the Act of Contrition, I’d think your Confession to still be valid. Likewise, if you say an Act of Contrition but really aren’t sorry, nor do you think your sins grievous, nor do you really intend to change what you’re doing, the Act of Contrition is merely a show, pretty words that have no power to save.

It is more common (and I have three decades of experience as a Catholic on this) to say an act of contrition at the beginning, but if you forget and launch into the laundry list of sins, the priest will remind you before pronouncing Absolution.

Remember, if you aren’t truly sorry for your sins no amount of prayer will bring forgiveness, for the Lord judges our hearts and calls us to rend them, not make a superficial display of it.

Don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all had our share of bloopers. If we can’t laugh at ourselves what would be the point? I’m not a grammar nazi normally, but i did have a little laugh. Hope you don’t mind. :wink: god bless

It’s fine! :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t mind at all! :smiley:

], and put the cart before the horse so to speak.

News to me…confession as I was taught [45+ years ago] begins with: “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been X weeks since my last confession”.

[Enumerate Sins]

Priest then absolves and requests an act of contrition, and gives a penance.

Yes, I am also familiar with the opener you quote, BUT in my experience anyway, the priest expects to hear an act/prayer of contrition BEFORE he gives the absolution. On the one or two occasions I have forgotten to say a prayer of contrition, the priest has reminded/prompted me - before giving absolution.

ps. It is over 60 years since I was taught how to say a formal/sacramental confession.

I must check with my 9-yr old what he was recently taught.

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