I have long struggled with the part of the Act of Contrition prayer (taught so long ago), that says “I firmly resolve to sin no more and to avoid the occasion of sin”. I actually add the word “TRY” to sin no more, as to say otherwise (for me) is to intentionally lie to God. If not, a “good” person would only have need for 1 reconciliation. I am aware that I omitted “with the help of Your grace” which I do say in the sacrament, I am also aware there are other prayers acceptable in the sacrament that do not contain this language. I don’t want to get hung up here on a secondary or tertiary issue, but I would like to know and better understand the argument for saying this prayer as taught. Thank You!!
Jesus set the bar pretty high:
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- Matthew 5:48
Jesus didn’t say “try to be perfect.”
I understand your larger point, we don’t feel that we can actually achieve being perfect or never sinning again. However there’s also some basic human psychology at play here. If our goal is to be perfect or sinless, it drives us to truly try to achieve these goals. If our goal is merely to “try” then we slowly (and continually) lower the bar for ourselves and one another. And by inserting the word “try” into the prayer we actually raise more questions. After all, how hard do we have to try? Did I try hard enough to meet that goal? And those of us who make bare efforts will retort: “Hey, I tried. What more do you want?”
By Jesus telling us to be perfect, and the Act of Contrition saying that we will avoid sin, we are given concrete and measurable goals. A drug addict isn’t told to only try to kick their habit. Through the sacraments we truly and really receive grace that can help us avoid all sin if we cooperate with it.
Yes we are all afflicted by the effects of original sin but Jesus and the prayers of the Church remind us of who we can be and what is truly possible for us.