The best and most complete Act of Contrition is:
*O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
In order for the priest to give absolution he must be assured you’re sufficiently sorry for your sins and purpose of amendment. If the priest is not adequately assured the penitent is actually penitent, he cannot absolve the person’s sins. The traditional Act of Contrition gives the priest what he needs in order to absolve. This one expresses both a less perfect sorrow for sin, a more perfect sorrow, and also a purpose of amendment.
We just got a strongly worded sermon on sincere repentance yesterday at Mass. In order for your sins to be forgiven you much actually be sorry for them and plan on not sinnng again. For example, confessing that you use artificial birth control, but not intending to cease using it afterwards does not suffice. It is also not good enough to be sorry for for your sins because of their temporal effects (ie: you got caught stealing,had you not been cuaght you wouldn’t be sorry, or you smashed your car and now you don’t have a car, etc), Also, You also need to have contrition, ideally perfect contrition (you’re sorry for your sins because, and only because they have offended God, who is all deserving of our love, but for Confession, imperfect contrition (you’re sorry because you’re afraid of going to Hell) will suffice. That’s where the Act of Contrition comes into play. (I can’t believe I actually remembered, in detail, what the priest said yesterday, and this was only the part of sincere repentance. :D)
On a lighter note ,here is my “confession” based on this approach----"father,I was very good;as I gave away six bottles of beer–though I did make a bad choice; I should have only given away two bottles as I got very thirsty–so please forgive me for this wrong choice! as a penance ,I am told to buy twelve bottles and still give away six, but to remember him as well!!(actually I do not drink alchohol)/
Please keep in mind that there is nothing “light” about confession. Confession is a serious affair; it deals with the state of your soul. Making a mockery of Confession is a grace sin. I’m not trying to scare you, just make sure you realize the seriousness of Confession, which seems to be lacking in a lot of parishes today.