Official Chruch teaching on Act of Perfect Contrition?


#1

Is this (the following) official Church teaching--the bolded parts I mean? (I took most of what was here out so that the text would fit.)

The 5 qualities of the act of perfect contrition are:
Interior,
Supernatural,
Universal,
Supreme, and
Intense.

Interior

What do we mean when we say that the act of perfect contrition must be interior? We mean that it is an interior act of the mind and will. When a priest says his Divine Office correctly but with distractions (hopefully not intended) he fulfills his obligation that the law imposes on him. If, while you confer the sacrament of baptism, you say the words carefully with the intention to baptize as the Church baptizes, you confer the sacrament even though you had distractions during the rite. *The act of contrition does not work as the above cases. It is something even independent of spoken words. The mind and heart must determine everything that is said in the above form of contrition. The mere perfect recitation of the form, as one says his prayers, is not sufficient... *

**Supreme

When we say that the act of contrition must be supreme, we are saying that we must determine that we would rather die than commit a mortal sin. We must hate mortal sin (venial sin too, if possible) even more than death itself. Just think how careful we are about our lives. We avoid death at great sacrifices. A man will throw his possessions over-board to save his life. He will avoid the company of those who have a contagious sickness in order to save his life. In like manner, we must hate sin, in the act of contrition, as the greatest evil on earth**.

**Intense

In the above form of contrition, we express this determination with the word "detest." I might say that I do not like to eat spinach. However, I say that I "detest" eating rotten crow. In like manner, we do not say that we just do not like sin, but we detest it as we detest eating rotten crow... **

Fr. Meinen


#2

No.


#3

Look to the Catechism for the official Church teaching:

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P4D.HTM
*""1450 "Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction."49

Contrition

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

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52
""*


#4

'Will God forgive us any sin unless we have true contrition for it?

God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it.

Now therefore saith the Lord: "Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:12-13)

390. When is sorrow for sin true contrition?

Sorrow for sin is true contrition when it is interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.

  • Baltimore Catechism

CONTRITION MUST BE SUPERNATURAL IN ITS ORIGIN.

If you are not sorry in your heart for your sins, can any one change your heart and make you sorry?
Yes.

Who can change the heart?
God.

But cannot a sinner change his own heart and have true sorrow of himself, without the help of God?
No.

Can a sinner get sorrow from God?
Yes.

How can he get it?
By praying for it.

. . .

*CONTRITION MUST BE SOVEREIGN.
*

When we go to Confession must we be sorry for offending God?
Yes.
Must our sorrow for offending God be greater than our sorrow for anything else?
Yes.

  • Fr. John Furniss, Confession [A How to Guide for Children]

There are plenty of sources writing about the each of the necessary qualities.


#5

[quote="Shin, post:4, topic:301438"]
'Will God forgive us any sin unless we have true contrition for it?

God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it.

Now therefore saith the Lord: "Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:12-13)

390. When is sorrow for sin true contrition?

Sorrow for sin is true contrition when it is interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.

  • Baltimore Catechism

CONTRITION MUST BE SUPERNATURAL IN ITS ORIGIN.

If you are not sorry in your heart for your sins, can any one change your heart and make you sorry?
Yes.

Who can change the heart?
God.

But cannot a sinner change his own heart and have true sorrow of himself, without the help of God?
No.

Can a sinner get sorrow from God?
Yes.

How can he get it?
By praying for it.

. . .

*CONTRITION MUST BE SOVEREIGN.
*

When we go to Confession must we be sorry for offending God?
Yes.
Must our sorrow for offending God be greater than our sorrow for anything else?
Yes.

  • Fr. John Furniss, Confession [A How to Guide for Children]

There are plenty of sources writing about the each of the necessary qualities.

[/quote]

So if there are things that I prefer certain mortal sins to than I can't even make a valid Confession because that means I don't have true contrition, or is true contrition just another way of saying perfect contrition?:confused:


#6

Perfect contrition and imperfect contrition both require being interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.

Some priests emphasize different parts about the necessary interior qualities or go into more detail. One thing to focus on I think how a person who is holy or loves God would feel and think.

When it comes to the difference between 'perfect' and 'imperfect' one reads it is the difference between fear of God and love of God. There is some theological discussion about some of the fine points about that difference too, from what I have read.

It can be worth reading up on one's own about from various old devotional and instructional books. What is key I think is: simplicity, and trust in God, and prayer for the necessary virtues or graces to be properly contrite.

If we pray regularly for the grace of contrition, and consider what it is to be contrite as a holy person, and how beautiful and good that is, and aspire to it ourselves, then Our Lord has promised us, 'seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened'.

And so the gift of contrition which we seek will be found. :) If we make a certain kind of goodness our goal and admire and aspire to it, what we truly love in a certain way we already have a part of.


#7

[quote="Shin, post:6, topic:301438"]
Perfect contrition and imperfect contrition both require being interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.

Some priests emphasize different parts about the necessary interior qualities or go into more detail. One thing to focus on I think how a person who is holy or loves God would feel and think.

When it comes to the difference between 'perfect' and 'imperfect' one reads it is the difference between fear of God and love of God. There is some theological discussion about some of the fine points about that difference too, from what I have read.

It can be worth reading up on one's own about from various old devotional and instructional books. What is key I think is: simplicity, and trust in God, and prayer for the necessary virtues or graces to be properly contrite.

If we pray regularly for the grace of contrition, and consider what it is to be contrite as a holy person, and how beautiful and good that is, and aspire to it ourselves, then Our Lord has promised us, 'seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened'.

And so the gift of contrition which we seek will be found. :) If we make a certain kind of goodness our goal and admire and aspire to it, what we truly love in a certain way we already have a part of.

[/quote]

I'm still confused. You didn't exactly answer my question.


#8

[quote="Shin, post:6, topic:301438"]
Perfect contrition and imperfect contrition both require being interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.

Some priests emphasize different parts about the necessary interior qualities or go into more detail. One thing to focus on I think how a person who is holy or loves God would feel and think.

When it comes to the difference between 'perfect' and 'imperfect' one reads it is the difference between fear of God and love of God. There is some theological discussion about some of the fine points about that difference too, from what I have read.

It can be worth reading up on one's own about from various old devotional and instructional books. What is key I think is: simplicity, and trust in God, and prayer for the necessary virtues or graces to be properly contrite.

If we pray regularly for the grace of contrition, and consider what it is to be contrite as a holy person, and how beautiful and good that is, and aspire to it ourselves, then Our Lord has promised us, 'seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened'.

And so the gift of contrition which we seek will be found. :) If we make a certain kind of goodness our goal and admire and aspire to it, what we truly love in a certain way we already have a part of.

[/quote]

I can't really help it if there are certain things I prefer certain mortal sin to. Of course, I have prayed to God to change this, but it didn't work. I went to Confession anyway, because I find it hard to beleive that God would withhold forgiveness from someone because of something they can't help, but it still made me a little nervous, thinking that it might've been an invalid Confession I made.

I was sorry for all the sins I confessed, primarily because they offended God, had a firm resolution (and still have a firm resolution) not to commit them again, I made sure to confess all of my mortal sins with the required details and had prayed beforehand to God to help me to have true contrition. How can such be considered an invalid Confession if I did all I could?:confused:


#9

Well, I am unclear on what you mean exactly by "there are certain things I prefer certain mortal sin to", but I do not particularly think it likely it's something to discuss on a public forum or with someone like myself.

May I suggest that you go and privately talk to a good priest who adheres to all the Church's teachings, and consult him about how you should proceed in your particular case and handle your particular troubles?

This sounds like something you should confide in to a priest in the confessional or in some private consultation so as how best to overcome the no doubt personal issues?

It's one thing to discuss concepts, and repeat various teachings, it's another thing to apply them to a particular person's interior life, and to put them all together.

There are many people who have had to work hard to acquire proper contrition, i.e. contrition that is acceptable to God. It is not something we can always say snap, we instantly have, yes, far from it. That is why it is so necessary to work hard to acquire a proper penitential spirit.

The saints teach about various meditations, thoughts to elicit it. Remembrance of death, the last things. There are many stories where people had to go through very hard penances to elicit it before they could be absolved.

There's a book called 'Theory and Practice of the Confessional' that discusses contrition and makes some practical recommendations that may or may not be helpful. It mentions the distinction between a universal motive of repentance and thinking of each particular possible occasion, and what is perhaps advisable and not there, for what it's worth.


#10

'A brother lived in a cell in Egypt and, with all humility, spent his life in asceticism. This monk had a sister who lived in the city and who was a prostitute. She had been the cause of many losing their souls each day. Thus, many times the Elders had urged the brother to go meet with his sister. At last one day they convinced him to go, that perchance his brotherly admonitions might have the desired effect and she might cease the sin that she was committing.

As soon as he arrived at the place where the sinful woman was staying, a certain acquaintance of theirs saw the monk and ran to inform her, saying: "Your brother is asking for you at the door below." The sister, on hearing this news, abandoned her sinful compatriots and, just as she was, ran down to greet her brother, without bothering, in fact, even to put a covering on her head. When the brother and sister saw one another and she, out of joy, tried to embrace her brother, he said:

"Truly, my sister, I pity your soul, beholding how you will suffer the bitter and unending torments of Hell, for not only have you lost your soul, but many others have also done so because of you."

The sister listened attentively to the sincere counsels of her brother and, overwhelmed by them, with true repentance said to him:

"Are you sure that, even now, I can be saved?"

"If you wish so, there is salvation," the kind brother answered with certainty.

With tears in her eyes, she then fell at the feet of her brother and doggedly entreated him to take her with him into the desert to be saved.

The brother, also moved by her sudden conversion, told his sister:

"Put a scarf on your head and follow me."

She, however, said to her brother:

"Come, come, let us go quickly. It is preferable for me and better for my soul if I leave this vile place and set forth on the way bare-headed, and not enter again into this workshop of sin."

They thus departed for the desert, and the brother advised her tenderly, enumerating for her the fruits of repentance. She listened with silent attention, while Divine Grace slowly won over the soul of the repentant sinner.

Then at a certain point in their journey, they saw some wayfarers coming toward them from the opposite direction. So the brother, in order not to cause scandal to them, told his sister:

"Since not everyone knows that you are my sister get off the road just a little until these people pass by, so that we do not cause them scandal."

The sister immediately went away some distance from the road.

When the caravan had passed, the brother called to his sister.

But he received no answer at all. Curious, he searched the place where he expected her to be and, astonished, saw that she was dead. He noticed at the same time that her feet were torn to pieces from the trip, since she was barefoot.

The brother related these incidents to the Elders. They, taking counsel regarding the matter, all disagreed, some maintaining that she was saved, others insisting that she had lost her soul.

Finally, after praying, one of the Elders, who appears to have been more virtuous and insightful than the others, received the following revelation from God: "This sinner was saved, for as soon as Divine Grace, at the counsels of her brother, moved her heart, she repented and thought of no material thing. But rather, she gave no heed to her body and did not complain about the pain and wounds inflicted by the journey. For this reason, her repentance was accepted."'

  • from the sayings of the Desert Fathers

#11

[quote="Shin, post:9, topic:301438"]
Well, I am unclear on what you mean exactly by "there are certain things I prefer certain mortal sin to", but I do not particularly think it likely it's something to discuss on a public forum or with someone like myself.

May I suggest that you go and privately talk to a good priest who adheres to all the Church's teachings, and consult him about how you should proceed in your particular case and handle your particular troubles?

This sounds like something you should confide in to a priest in the confessional or in some private consultation so as how best to overcome the no doubt personal issues?

It's one thing to discuss concepts, and repeat various teachings, it's another thing to apply them to a particular person's interior life, and to put them all together.

There are many people who have had to work hard to acquire proper contrition, i.e. contrition that is acceptable to God. It is not something we can always say snap, we instantly have, yes, far from it. That is why it is so necessary to work hard to acquire a proper penitential spirit.

The saints teach about various meditations, thoughts to elicit it. Remembrance of death, the last things. There are many stories where people had to go through very hard penances to elicit it before they could be absolved.

There's a book called 'Theory and Practice of the Confessional' that discusses contrition and makes some practical recommendations that may or may not be helpful. It mentions the distinction between a universal motive of repentance and thinking of each particular possible occasion, and what is perhaps advisable and not there, for what it's worth.

[/quote]

Most people would find it impossible to hate sin--even mortal sin above all else, especially when it comes to the kinds of sins they commit on a regular basis (if they didn't enjoy committing a sin, why would they commit it at all and why would it be so hard to give up?) I mean, there must be a misunderstanding. This is not the kind of thing that most people can help so I know there has to be a misunderstanding. If not than most people would have a true cause for depsair.


#12

[quote="ChibiViolet, post:11, topic:301438"]
Most people would find it impossible to hate sin--even mortal sin above all else, especially when it comes to the kinds of sins they commit on a regular basis (if they didn't enjoy committing a sin, why would they commit it at all and why would it be so hard to give up?) .

[/quote]

Because they have a compulsion, or an addiction. The conscience may be corrupted, they may not know right from wrong ( you would need to consult someone smarter than I on that one) or their will is corrupted. Many people have mortal sins they commit despite their knowing better. They hate these sins, even while they commit them. The slave hates his master.


#13

[quote="clem456, post:12, topic:301438"]
Because they have a compulsion, or an addiction. The conscience may be corrupted, they may not know right from wrong ( you would need to consult someone smarter than I on that one) or their will is corrupted. Many people have mortal sins they commit despite their knowing better. They hate these sins, even while they commit them. The slave hates his master.

[/quote]

Well, what about hating mortal sins literally above all else?


#14

I am also a litle confused.
Confession works. Your feelings are not the determinate factor in confession... whether or not you truly hate this sin or that. The absolution does not depend on your personal victory over your feelings.
I hope we are on the same page.


#15

[quote="clem456, post:14, topic:301438"]
I am also a litle confused.
Confession works. Your feelings are not the determinate factor in confession... whether or not you truly hate this sin or that. The absolution does not depend on your personal victory over your feelings.
I hope we are on the same page.

[/quote]

Firstly, it's how someone views sin--not feelings about sin. Anyway, in the Cathechism it says that in order for contrition to be true than two of the requirements are that it has to be intense and supreme, meaning that one detests their sins more than all else. I know it can't be literal, as that doesn't make sense. True contrition is required to make a valid Confession.


#16

Read the whole chapter on Reconciliation. I think you are over thinking this.
Trust. Detach.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm


#17

How am I overthinking? If I didn’t think a little about this, I would have just took it to be literal.

I want to understand what the Cathechism says, but am not worried since I realized very quickly that it can’t be literal.


#18

[quote="ChibiViolet, post:17, topic:301438"]
How am I overthinking? If I didn't think a little about this, I would have just took it to be literal.

I want to understand what the Cathechism says, but am not worried since I realized very quickly that it can't be literal.

[/quote]

It is literal, in that perfect contrition arises out of love of God above all else, not fear of Hell. Of course we still will fear Hell, if we are sane. But ask yourself, if there was not Hell, would you still be contrite and sorrowful for turning your back on God.


#19

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

To what extent does this (and the Baltimore Catechism quotes above) represent doctrinal teaching of timeless truth, as opposed to disciplinary instruction and exhortation on current Church practice?


#20

[quote="pnewton, post:18, topic:301438"]
It is literal, in that perfect contrition arises out of love of God above all else, not fear of Hell. Of course we still will fear Hell, if we are sane. But ask yourself, if there was not Hell, would you still be contrite and sorrowful for turning your back on God.

[/quote]

Well, I already knew that, but what about having to hate sins above all else?


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