Is the contrition said at mass as good as going to confession


There was a thread on this forum a few months back where we had a disagreement as to whether a person should ever ask their spouse why they did not receive communion. I was taught, as a child, that one should never ask another person why they did not go to communion. People disagreed with me. I can certainly see the case where a person is scared their spouse (or parent for that matter) is going to want to know something that is very private and this causes enough of a delima to where the culpability of receiving out of the state of grace is reduced. As for making a perfect contrition in these cases, that is certainly the correct approach.

Note: I do not want to restart that discussion, just thought I would share a scenario with people who seem to think it impossible for you two to be correct.


The sad thing is that so many on this forum show often such disrespect to the learned opinions of educated, experienced clergy who post here. Some people want black and white answers, or their own opinions/biases confirmed rather than actual pastoral advice and counsel, which is often far more nuanced and complex than what the average lay poster, even one who is well informed, will be able to give.


I remember that thread. Just for the record, I agree: I think it is wrong to ask anyone why they did not Receive Communion and I think it is wrong to ask them why they are going to Confession, even if they are your children or spouses.

For example: I have seen numerous threads started here by young people who are too embarrassed to go to Confession because they are afraid their parents will question them or are afraid to not Receive Communion because their parent might ask what they did. When my daughter gets older, I will tell her that I will not question her if she wants to go to Confession nor will I ever question her about what she might have done if she decides to refrain from Communion.


I believe an act of perfect contrition isn’t simply a case of being sorry for one’s own sins, it means being truly sorry and not a sorrow because of fear of the consequences (i.e fear of Hell). I would think that being sorry linked to a worry about damage to one’s character or reputation because people who see you not receiving make think badly of you would fall a long way short of perfect contrition.

Personally I think an act of perfect contrition (completely selfless contrition without any element of fear of consequences of the sin) would be a very difficult thing to actually achieve. I would think it is much safer to go to Confession where an act of imperfect contrition will result in absolution.


I think you misunderstand others point. They are not saying that fear for one’s character or reputation (or any serious reason to receive) affects an act of perfect contrition. They are saying that one should have made an act of perfect contrition (as you describe, ok wording might be different) AND have a grave reason to receive communion. In other words, just a fear for one’s reputation is not enough (assuming that is a grave reason), it must be accompanied by an act of perfect contrition (and a resolve to go to confession asap).

I tend to agree it is be difficult to achieve. And you are correct that that its much safer to go to confession. But an act of perfect contrition does not mean one has no fear of the consequences of the sin, that would make it all but impossible. An act of perfect contrition is driven solely by the love of God, regardless of any fear one has.


You make good point in your post and I accept your definition of perfect contrition being driven solely by love of God.

I think if the person is deciding to take Communion for fear of damage to their reputation then it seems difficult to see how an act of contrition made beforehand, in order to be able to receive Communion, could be a perfect act of contrition considering the strong motivation to protect one’s reputation.


But if we use the same logic as the point you agreed with, this is not quite right. Lets assume everyone (that is all Catholics) has a fear of hell due to their sin. That fear of hell does not necessarily prohibit one from making an act of perfect contrition. We agree on that. Well, if a fear of hell does not prohibit one from making an act of perfect contrition, then a fear for one’s reputation cannot either.

Again, I am not making any claim one way or another about how difficult it is to achieve perfect contrition, just that any fear of consequences does not prohibit the possibility.


But if the motivation for the contrition is in order to be able to receive Communion, that would seem to be such a strong contributory factor as to make an act of perfect contrition practically remote.

If a person is sorry out of love for God alone, then why risk committing sacrilege against God for something as trivial as what others might think of them?

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