My confessor always makes me say the Act of Contrition as my penance


Hi guys!

I have been wondering about this for a long time. I got to Confession 9/10 Saturdays, and I have a regular confessor. However, he doesn’t make my siblings or I say an Act of Contrition before he absolves us, which I thought was a must. Without contrition, no sin can be forgiven. According to Fr. John Laux’s “Mass and the Sacraments” course book, “The act of contrition must be made before confession or at least before absolution is given.”

I’m worried that all my past confessions have been invalid or illicit. If so, what do I do? I just don’t want to get him in trouble. Thank you! God bless!


I never say the act of contrition in the confessional or after, in fact I had to translate it as I saw it written in your thread :blush:

I’ve confessed to I don’t know 3-4 priests and it haven’t occurred even once so it can’t be mandatory at least in the Roman rite, if it invalidates ones confession a lot of people in my country live in a state of mortal sin…

What pop to my mind is " God know you’re sorry for your sins and formality like these can’t doom anyone? " God sees our hearts and know our mind so there is no fooling him what so ever.

Without any further due Im quite sure your sins where absolved in the confessional, but of course who am I to say…

I think others has more informative things to say about the subject…

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic


Snow Angel,

Attached is the guide from the USCCB site on how to go to confession.

You will notice that the words are to pray **AN **act of contrition and the formal prayer is only a suggestion. One of your own words is sufficient and depending on the age of the penitent asking them if they are sorry would probably fulfill the “requirement”.

Also, I would like to add that you and your siblings should not be comparing notes when it comes to the sacrament of reconciliation. Discretion and prudence are always better options.


The act of contrition may be said in the confessional or reconciliation room, or it may be prayed beforehand in the pew, or afterward with any other penance prayers assigned. I don’t think that any particular form of the prayer is mandatory, but contrition itself is necessary. In other words, you must be sorry for your sins. (The fact that you are going to confession is evidence of contrition.)

In my parish, the priest commonly asks the penitent to say the act of contrition afterwards along with the penance, and gives the absolution beforehand.


Same over here. The priest says “Would you like to say the act of contrition now?” We can either read one of two prayers pasted to the top of the kneeler or use our own words.


When I finish telling my sins, I say, “I am sorry for these and for all the sins of my past life.” That expresses contrition, and lets the priest know I have finished :slight_smile:


We do have the act of contrition printed and available in the confessional, but usually the priest just asks me to say it in the pew after leaving the confessional.


Hello Snow.

Try not to confuse valid with licit. They are two different things. If the Priest doesn’t follow the correct formulas the Sacrament becomes illicit but the validity lies with you. If you did your best to Confess your sins and had the proper dispositions, and absolution was given in the correct form, then your sins were forgiven. The only way you wouldn’t be forgiven is if absolution was tampered with in such a way as to render the Sacrament null. Keep in mind that the Sacrament still isn’t over when you leave the Confessional. Your satisfaction must be made and until you actually say or do the Penance imposed, you aren’t forgiven. if you skip it, guess what? If the sins you committed and confessed to were mortal, you just nullified the Sacrament and aren’t freed yet to receive Communion.

As for getting the Priest in trouble, he did that all by himself by his actions. He is responsible for himself. He is a grown man and knows all the rules regarding the Rites. He got a very good education in the Seminary I’m sure so he knows when he is cutting corners. God knows what he did or didn’t do and if he is in trouble, it is with the Boss of it ALL and “telling” on him really isn’t your job, but His. You’ll probably do yourself more harm than good by complaining about him to others. Simply let it go and find another Confessor.



In England and Ireland the priest always says you can now say your act of contrition, and while I am doing this the priest is saying prayers and absolving me of my sins, I generally finish before Fr. and then he says Go in Peace.

It is quite beautiful and I think of this having being done for 2000 years is quite awesome.


This gives the impression that the priest did something wrong. He did not. He just didn’t do it in the way expected. The way in which Confession is approached in the Latin Rite in the U.S. is, in part, a matter of custom. Perhaps it is not the custom where he is from to ask for the Act of Contrition. Perhaps he doesn’t know that penitents expect him to ask for it, rather than just starting it on their own. Maybe he is sufficiently assured of contrition, and therefore chooses not to ask about it. There is nothing wrong with a different approach, other than the possibility that it might not be reassuring to the penitent if it is other than what is expected. There’s nothing to “let go” and no need to find another confessor if she likes this one fine.


As long as the priest had the proper faculties and used the approved formula and you recited a contrition to the best of your ability (even if it was imperfect or out of the confessional) your sins were forgiven. The ideal is to recite a perfect act of contrition before the absolution but that doesn’t always happen as you’ve noted.


Glendab, you are giving incorrect information. When the priest absolves the sin, it is absolved and forgiven, period. Not doing the penance does NOT invalidate this. The sins are still forgiven, and the person may go to Communion. There are times that penances are not assigned, or even take a while to complete. Here is an article about this from Father Z., and he gives the relevant Canons. :

To the OP, please read the article yourself and even the relevant Canons so you can have a clear mind about the penance.


Contrition is a disposition, and there may also be an outward expression of it in word or sign. I believe that if you have the correct disposition you should be alright. I say this because, when general absolution is give to groups, those being absolved are to be told to make an act of contrition. Of course later they have individual confession. (“In this case any priest has the faculty to give general absolution to a number of people after first, if there is time, exhorting them very briefly to make an act of contrition.”) The Catechism has:Catechism 1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” 50


Thanks for the thread Snow Angels!
I also had a priest who didn’t bother with asking
for the prayer of contrition, and I didn’t really
follow the guidelines mapped out by the RCIA
team(The confessional is enclosed and you are
in the Dark, so you can’t bring the prayer of
contrition and read it).


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