Forgiveness of Sins

Ok, well I do know why a priest can forgive venial/mortal sins. I do not understand, however, how we can say an act of contrition to forgive venial sins and that we can say a perfect contrition to forgive mortal sin. Please explain how we can do this.

I’m confused as to what you mean. You pray an act of contrition every time you go to confession whether you have a mortal sin to confess or not.

Although “Act of Contrition” is a prayer we say, “perfect contrition” is what we do, not what we say…just google : perfect contrition catechism of catholic church and you’ll find a complete answer.

Imperfect contrition means we are sorry for our sins, but our sorrow is based (at least in some small part) on fear of punishment.

Perfect contrition means we are sorry for our sins because we realize they offend God, not because we fear God’s judgement.

If a person suspects that he may be guilty of mortal sin, but cannot soon avail himself of Sacramental Confession, he may (if he is able) make an act of perfect contrition. BUT he must still avail himself of Confession at the nearest possible opportunity and confess this sin. If he dies before being able to do so, he is yet saved. If he neglects Confession, the act merits no Grace.

The real problem here is that it is theologically impossible to know if we are actually perfectly contrite. Such an act must be based entirely on love, without a hint of fear. Not even we ourselves can know if we have achieved this (it is known to God alone).

If bombs are falling, do what you can. It can’t hurt. But don’t look at it as any sort of assurance, because it is not. That’s why it is best to confess without delay (which gives 100% assurance).

Thank you!


I don’t think that is entirely correct. Perfect contrition is often misunderstood as referring to a degree of contrition, but it actually refers to a type. Perfect contrition has as its primary motive love of God, but there can be an admixture of motives in perfect contrition, including fear. The traditional act of contrition actually expressed perfect contrition in such terms: “because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell but most of all because . . .you are deserving of all my love.”

I think it is a common misunderstanding though, because perfect has a technical meaning in this context.

Christ is Risen!

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