Perfect Act of Contrition question


Is it really true that when trying to make a perfect Act of Contrition, one can’t be sure that it is perfect even if one asks for God’s help to make it perfect, the person making it regrets their sins most because they offended God and they intend to go to Confession as soon as possible afterwards (or as soon as convienant to go, as I’ve read is okay to. Is that really okay?) If all these requirements are met than how is it possible that the person who tried to make it didn’t actually make it?


To think that one’s contrition is literally perfect is to think that we have merited sanctifying grace by our own works, which is a sin of presumption. We can never know whether our contrition was perfect.

Now, we must understand what is meant by perfect in the context of the Catechism:

Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity).

My opinion: to avoid confusion, let perfect = first type (unofficial wording, of course). A contrition “of the first type” is one that arises from a love by which God is loved above all else (“ex, from the act of contrition prayer: most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love”).

Now my point is: this contrition “of first type” is the type of contrition that, united to the firm resolution to confess as soon as possible, obtains forgiveness of mortal sins. However, how can we be sure that we made a perfect contrition “of first type”? I already know that something within me is moved to repentance partially for fear of being eternally separated from God (contrition of fear, or, for the sake of the argument, “of second type” :shrug:).

That’s the issue as far as I can see it: I try that my contrition be always of the perfect type (of charity) and never of the imperfect type (of fear), but I can never be sure that it was perfectly of charity, that is (for the grand finale, replacing my unofficial “of first type” with the official word), I can never be sure that my contrition was perfectly perfect :shrug:

I hope the above makes sense!


I wasn’t asking about about perfect contrition, but a perfect Act of Contrition. I thought they were two seperate things–related of course, but different. Also, how would someone be committing the sin of presumption if they are asking for God’s help?


Oh, I understand what you mean more clearly, indeed two separate things.

Based on what I now understand you meant, I would rephrase my first statement.

The first thing that comes to mind is this promise of the Lord:“whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”.

Yet I am troubled by the fact that the Act depends on my will and my faith, that is, it is ultimately something I do…that is: the Lord may respond to my prayer by granting me a shower of graces to make the Act of Contrition perfectly, but that does not mean that I will necessarily have the disposition to be open to all the graces necessary…

I am thinking in comparison with the Sacraments: while they certainly act ex opere operato, “the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.” (CCC 1128)

Thus I think that the Lord cannot 'force" us to do a perfect Act of Contrition, not even if we ask Him to…ultimately it sort of depends on us…which is why I would believe that, mercifully hearing my prayer, the Lord granted me the grace to make a perfect act, but I would not presume I made a perfect act :shrug:


I like to note that it tis still by the grace of God…

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

(Also I would note that in regards to venial sins -they can be forgiven in various ways (not just perfect contrition))

(also I would note that perfect contrition can co-exist with other motives)


Thank you!!


One can have some good indications that ones act of contrition was an “act of perfect contrition” …but certainly in the sense of “absolute certainty” such is possible from God ( a special revelation) --but not something of ordinary occurrence.

We also know him in whom we believed – if we should have the event of falling into a mortal sin – let us turn quickly to *Jesus the Good Shepherd * – seeking to make “acts of perfect contrition” with not only love but with faith and hope.

And of course get to confession as soon as we can!

(II Tm 1: 12)


Perfect contrition requires special graces from God, and not everyone has such graces. One must be sorry for their sins STRICTLY because they offend God. The problem here is that as humans we have a fallen nature and it’s most likely going to be mixed contrition if we’re on the verge of death.

It is true that we can’t know for certain if our contrition was perfect…unless we die and end up in Hell. That’s a pretty good indication our contrition wasn’t perfect.

Just go to Confession and avoid committing mortal sins.


No it can’t.


Well, the Act of Contrition does include two aspects:

  • " because of Your just punishments" (contrition of fear)
  • “but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.” (contrition of charity)



Yes it actually can.


An act of perfect contrition is motivated by primarily (but not necessarily solely) by sorrow for offending God.
If you are using the word strictly to mean mainly then you are correct but if you are using it as meaning exclusively then you are wrong.


[quote="Bookcat, post:11, topic:306232"]
Yes it actually can.


Yes, as long as the top motive is out of love for God/regret for displeasing Him.


There are some things only God knows.
Therefore if you have the opportunity to go to confession, take advantage of that opportunity. If you can’t make it to confession then you can make an act of perfect contrition and trust in the mercy of God…


That’s not what’s used to make a perfect act of contrition. There is an Act of Contrition used that does not include the loss of heaven or the pains of hell.

Those who insist perfect contrition can have mixed motives, where are you getting this from?


Here is one good source for you (Fr. John Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary --a rather orthodox Theologian whose cause has been introduced):


[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:15, topic:306232"]
That's not what's used to make a perfect act of contrition. There is an Act of Contrition used that does not include the loss of heaven or the pains of hell.


Here is the Act of Contrition from the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Actus contritionis
Deus meus, ex toto corde pænitet me ómnium meórum peccatórum, éaque detéstor, quia peccándo, non solum pœnas a te iuste statútas proméritus sum, sed præsértim quia offéndi te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super ómnia diligáris. Ídeo fírmiter propóno, adiuvánte grátia tua, de cétero me non peccatúrum peccandíque occasiónes próximas fugitúrum. Amen.


The Baltimore Catechism states:

Q. 768. What other name is given to imperfect contrition and why is it called imperfect?
A. Imperfect contrition is called attrition. It is called imperfect only because it is less perfect than the highest grade of contrition by which we are sorry for sin out of pure love of God’s own goodness and without any consideration of what befalls ourselves.


The “without” there does not mean that other motives cannot co-exist. But that there needs to be that perfect contrition which is of its nature love of God above all. Such can then “co-exist” with lesser motives.

One can have perfect contrition – and still desire not to go to hell! (for example).

Fr. Hardon puts it quite nicely. As does the actual act of contrition proposed for use in the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI



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