Perfect Contrition and Confesson


Perfect contrition, on the other hand, “arises from a love by which God is loved above all else” (CCC 1452). Only this form of contrition obtains the forgiveness of grave sins before going to confession.

I thought imperfect contrition for grave sins suffices in the sacrament of confession?

How does one know he has perfect contrition?



Imperfect contrition suffices inside the confessional.

Perfect Contrition suffices outside the confessional provided you plan to go to confession as soon as possible.


We don’t, so when in doubt - Go to Confession.


Thanks guys for your posts :thumbsup:

What’s the point of trying to obtain perfect contrition (under normal circumstances) if imperfect contrition suffices in the sacrament ?


For one thing, perfect contrition is far more pleasing to God. It is being sorry for sins because God has been offended, not because of fear of punishment. It is something we should all strive for.


This is news to me. So are we saying that I do not have to be truly sorry for my sins to be forgiven in the confessional.

On the other hand, if I am truly sorry for my sins, I am forgiven immediately without confession but will need to confess later. Does that mean that I am immediately in the state of grace? So if I was in a mortal sin, a perfect contrition will allow me to go to communion except that I need to go to confession later?


Because human beings have an inordinate talent for self delusion, one cannot rely on ones psyche to determine whether or not we have obtained a state of perfect contrition. I think only a Saint would be able to do that.
One should also be aware of the old adage:“When in doubt Confess”. And, considering that in the Western World, i.e. Europe and North and South America there are very few places without a Priest, Confession is readily available. Therefore, there is little excuse for not going to Confession prior to receiving Holy Communion. Anything short of that is self delusion, and a liberal interpretation of policies following V II.


It matters if you die before getting to Confession.
If you really do make an act of perfect contrition with the firm intent to get to Confession as soon as possible but die before getting there then you would be saved.
Imperfect contrition would not save you if you die before getting to Confession.


For the baptized Catholic, perfect contrition with intention to confess means one is immediately in the state of grace. Receiving communion is a different matter because the state of grace is not the only factor for reception. For reception, one should also not be barred from communion, not cause scandal through reception (which could happen if one appears to be unworthy to receive, or is receiving in an Orthodox church, for example), believe in transubstantiation, intend to confess, observe the communion fast (as it applies in the situation), and not exceed the allowable number of receptions in a day.

Some Latin cannons are CIC 915, 916, 917, 921.2, 919:Can. 915 Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

Can. 917 A person who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist can receive it a second time on the same day only within the eucharistic celebration in which the person participates, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 921, §2.

Can. 921 §2. Even if they have been nourished by holy communion on the same day, however, those in danger of death are strongly urged to receive communion again.

Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.
§2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them.
§3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.

But, see CCEO 712, 711, 707 equivalents for eastern Catholics.


Thank you Vico. That was very well explained.


That’s very interesting. Is this articulated in Canon law or some other kind of document?


The grace of perfect contrition brings forgiveness of mortal sins before Confession…but needs of course to still confess them (and wait for Holy Communion until they are confessed and absolved).

(note too that one perfect contrition may co-exist with lesser motives)

Imperfect contrition does not (outside the Sacrament…)


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

As to venial sins -they can be forgiven in prayer and many other ways…perfect contrition, imperfect contrition, acts of love, at Holy Communion, the reading of Scripture etc etc etc. I is still very very good to confess at least some though regularly (see CCC 1458)/


Noted - thanks :slight_smile:

What if I had imperfect contrition and was on my way to confession but I got hit by a bus and died. Technically speaking, would I still go to heaven?


Let me answer you with a question.

Could God knowing your heading for confession -give you in those last moments the grace of perfect contrition?

(Yes he can…)

(let us always have hope and in any case let us repent and turn towards the Lord - asking his grace and mercy - remembering he is the Good Shepherd) (and go to confession!).


I appreciate what you’re saying and it does have a strong implication. However my question still stands.


The answer is no because you would be in a state of mortal sin, you have to be in a state of Grace to enter heaven.


If a person dies in a state of mortal sin…they have chosen hell.

What I otherwise note above “still stands” :wink:


No Purgatory!? :confused:



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