Perfect contrition is not an act.

There is an act of contrition, and then there is perfect contrition. One is external, and the other is internal.

Let me give an example. You hit your sister, and your mother says “you apologize to your sister right now!” you of course, in that tiny voice, say “I’m sorry”. You have made an act of contrition. You may not even be truly sorry, and yet you made the act.

Perfect contrition is feeling truly sorry and in need of forgiveness. You cannot act that, it is internal and comes from the heart, or even the soul.

Perfect contrition is a sorrow for sins which is motivated from the love of God.

It contrasts with imperfect contrition, a sorrow arising from a less pure motive, such as fear of Hell.

It is the motive for sorrow rather than the intensity of feeling that distinguishes the two forms of contrition, and it is possible for perfect and imperfect contrition to be experienced simultaneously.

Unless it is properly motivated, perfect contrition rarely ever truly happens, which is why we thankfully have the sacrament of confession. If we were rely strictly on perfect contrition, our sins would seldom be forgiven. We can be contrite, we can be extremely contrite, but to be perfectly contrite is nearly impossible.

When you refer to the prayer, There is the Act of Contrition, and the Act of Perfect Contrition, but they are only acts. God sees through our acts and sees into our hearts, if our motivation does not meet what is needed for perfect contrition, there is doubt as to whether our sins are truly forgiven.

So make sure you get to confession, go with a contrite heart but along with the sorrow we have for offending our Heavenly Father, we should also rejoice in the fact that God gave us the sacrament that does indeed without doubt absolve us of our sins.

:yup: frequent confession is certainly one of the best spiritual insurance policies anyone have.

Perfect contrition does not require that you break down in tears and say how sorry you are. You can have perfect contrition, and not feel anything. If something feels right, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is; Contrition works the same way. It is a conscious choice- but one few of us make. It isn’t a feeling- though it *may *be accompanied by feelings.

I think you are trying to point out that merely reciting some prayer that has been labeled in some book as an “Act of Perfect Contrition” is not going to remit mortal sin. I agree. :slight_smile:

When I use the word “act” in association with contrition, I mean “human act”, like “act of will” or something. I don’t mean “external act”. A man will not have perfect contrition in his heart if he willfully refuses God’s grace to repent and love. He must cooperate with grace. This is a human act, that of cooperating or willing or not refusing.

I found a place in the CCC that might vaguely help with what I mean, but it is about faith/belief instead: (bold added)

**154 **Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason…

I would have to agree and disagree with you on that. True you don’t have to break down in tears, but you cannot have perfect contrition without feeling anything.

Perfect contrition is a hatred for all sin, not just the sin you committed, it is spawned from sorrow for offending God whom we should love with our whole being, and, and it is a firm resolve of the will to never sin again. ALL of those are feelings, and if you don’t feel all three, then you don’t have perfect contrition. If you feel nothing at, then you are just performing an act and nothing will become of it.

If you experience perfect contrition, you are restored to a state of grace at once, but if what you experienced is not perfect contrition, you are still in a state of sin. If your motivation is out of fear of going to hell then your no longer have perfect contrition.

It is because of our human nature and human emotions that even if we do break down and cry, and suffer emotionally and feel sorry for sinning, that there is still a chance that what one feels is not perfect contrition. It is because of this doube that we must rely on that which we know will indeed absolve us of our sins and return us to a state of grace, and that is the sacrament of reconcilliation.

The problem with a perfect act of contrition is that only God knows if we offered it - that’s why confession is so much better when our salvaiton is as stake.

Also, there is an additional requirement for a mortal sin to be forgiven, see the CCC 1452:

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 i***f it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.*** 51

I admit I know what you are saying precisely, but there is no problem with perfect contrition.:smiley: Let’s all pray for the grace of perfect contrition. I’d love to love God that way, so that I was sorry truly out of deep love for Him.

And, as you say, maybe I do! But I surely don’t know for sure.:wink:

Okay, I’ll only check new posts one more time, then I’ll go to bed.

Wording is easy to mess up :slight_smile: what I meant of course is

“The problem with solely relying on an act of perfect contrition to absolve us from a mortal sin is…”

I believe that this is related to what kind of a heart and consious one has. Today I was anoid with my flat mate who is supposed to pay some rent and get some food. He payed rent and never got food but had money for beer. I was really anoid and told him so and there was to an extent, raising of voices.
I had pushed him to get off his hornches and get a job. He did so and his mum shouted him the beer. I forgot. As soon as he mentioned the point I realised my fault (mistake) and stopped him speaking to then tell him I was wrong and as he spoke I told him again that I was wrong. I asked him again to forgive me and it was over.
I saw myself from the point of, if I wish to be forgiven then I must firstly forgive, I must forgive 7 times 70 times.Jesus would forgive me as he asked His father to forgive those who killed Him. I who say I follow Jesus, must express this in the same “mercy” that Jesus has on me.
For Jesus said I donot want your offerings what I want is mercy".

What I want to know is this: say you pray an act of contrition–you are sorry for your sin but are not PERFECTLY CONTRITE–let’s say you’re 99% CONTRITE.

You tell God you are sorry for mortally sinning and promise to go to a Catholic priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

On the way to making your confession to a Catholic priest a drunk driver hits your car and you die.

Will you go to Hell?

Can God make a rock so big He Himself cannot move it?

Same type of childish question we used to make up to try to trip up the Priests and Sisters in Catechism. Check out George Carlins early work. He had a whole album devoted to it. He had some good ones thrown in too.

I’m not trying to be childish. There are many times that I mortally sin–make an act of contrition–and I don’t think I’m PERFECTLY contrite.

Do I have to be PERFECTLY contrite in the interval between making an act of contrition and confession?

Is it too difficult a question for theologians to answer?

Let me get this right. You make an act of perfect contrition. Incidentally why would you do that anyway, so you could receive Holy Communion without benefit of confession? Then on your way to sacramental confession at some point in the future, you either engage in yet another mortal sin or racked by self loathing doubt the sincerity of your previous perfect act of contrition. Is that about it? Do you believe that there are times after making sacramental confession that your confession was unworthy due to insincerity also?

If you are not sure that you are indeed contrite, why make the act of contrition or confession? You are really just adding to your troubles by doing that because unless you are truly contrite the confession is worthless anyway.

In case you don’t know imperfect contrition is all that is required for sacramental confession, so why not just go there? That way you won’t have to worry whether or not your act of perfect contrition is good or not.

When you make an act of perfect contrition are you ALWAYS 100% perfectly contrite? I don’t think so. You may desire to be that way. You may be sorry for your sin and some of your motive might be because you love God and have offended Him but are you going to tell me that that is your ONLY motivation?

If it is, your perfect contrition would make you right with God.

What I’m getting to is this–it seems to me that a person being 100% contrite could be as rare as someone receiving a plenary indulgence because they would have no ATTACHMENT to sin–even venial sin. Is this so?

It is possible to realize you have mortally sinned when you are not in direct contact with a priest.

I don’t know about anyone else but when I find myself in that condition I tell God I’m sorry and promise to confess to a priest. Why do I do that? Because I figure my contrition may be IMPERFECT and I know that in Confession IMPERFECT contrition will suffice.

If I am imperfectly contrite–but desire to make things right with God–what happens on the way to confession if i die?

Don’t tell me that it would be impossible to die in that interval. Don’t tell me that it wouldn’t be impossible to be sorry for sin in that interval yet be IMPERFECTLY contrite–and don’t tell me that making an act of perfect contrition and promising God to go to confession as soon as possible would be EQUIVALENT to being PERFECTLY contrite!

In that interval if one is still in a state of mortal sin because say maybe they’re IMPERFECTLY 99% contrite for their sin–and the motivation for repentace comes only 99% out of grief for sinning and having offended God because of love for God–and maybe the reason that they’re IMPERFECTLY contrite is because they selfishly fear Hell–if you tell me that they are indeed in a state of mortal sin then I would say–never make an act of perfect contrition

WHY? Because the chances are great that you wouldn’t be 100% PERFECTLY contrite so you’d still be in a state of mortal sin.

What i’m asking is if sorrow for sin and promising God to confess to the priest as soon as possible and then setting out to do so would be good enough for you to escape Hell if you died on the way to a priest?

In such an instance you would have ATTRTION for the sin–you also would have made an act of contrition and you would have desired to be PERFECTLY contrite and you would have done all you could possibly do.

Would you go to Hell or not? If you would then all I can say is never make an Act of Contrition because you probably wouldn’t be 100% PERFECTLY CONTRITE and hang around priests 24 hours a day so if you at anytime during the year do mortally sin then you can confess immediately to avoid Hell.

I don’t think that is necessary. I believe that God who knows all hearts would be able to know if you did INTEND to confess to a priest and if you suddenly died in the interval on the way to seeing one that you would be saved and would escape Hell.

Is that correct or not? Are PERFECT CONTRITION and COMPLETED Sacramental Confession the ONLY ways to be restored to a state of grace after Mortal sin? You can be saved by Baptism of Desire can you likewise be saved from mortal sin by making an act of contrition and INTENDING and DESIRING to Confess?

Wanting to know the answer does not mean one is scrupulous or even that one thinks that they mortally sin very often.

I really think that you are taking this whole thing to a ridiculous level. Go to confession, confess your sins, firmly resolve to sin no more, get absolved, say your penance and go home. All this worrying about perfect this and imperfect that and what if i die before I’m able to confess really makes no sense at all. Just go to confession like we all do… Whats the big deal?

I’m sure that God does know everything about you and whether you are contrite and and all and yes he could easily forgive you just like that. But for whatever reason He set it up for us to confess to a Priest. In case you haven’t noticed, throughout history God has always worked through intermediaries. Why, I don’t have a clue, but He always has and still does.

God loves you and desires your salvation. He created you out of love and sent His only Son to die for your sins because of this love. What do you think is the answer to this question?

God is not engaged with you in a cosmic game of GOTCHA with a bunch of confusing, unreasonable and arbitrary rules designed to send you to hell for any infraction, large or small. God does not “win” when you are separated from Him for all eternity.

Think about the father in the parable of the prodigal son. He watched every day for his son’s return. Do you think he would have rejected him without the little speech he had prepared, which clearly indicated nothing more than attrition? Of course not! His only care was to have his son back. In fact, he didn’t even let the son complete the little speech. He ran out to meet him when he saw him in the distance.

So do what you are supposed to do. When you fall into mortal sin, make whatever act of contrition you are capable of, make your plans to get to confession ASAP, and entrust yourself to God’s mercy in the meantime. He’s running out to meet you.


I don’t know how rare perfect contrition is, but it does not carry the same condition as a plenary indulgence. I would like to suggest that it is a healthy concept to have in your head that if you sin mortally, you will not be well situated should you happen to die shortly thereafter. God does not promise potential mortal sinners that they will be perfectly fine if they happen to go ahead and sin mortally. They could die without repenting.

Perhaps you might wish to pray each day that you have perfect contrition, that you die having the sacraments, and that you persevere to the end. This will be a comforting prayer for yourself, because God does not pass out snakes and rocks. He gives us what we need. Choose the prayer that is right for you and then place all your concern in God’s hands. He can more safely guide you home to heaven that you can, no matter how much you worry. In fact, it might increase your trust for Him, and this will increase your love for him, and this will lead to more perfect contrition! :smiley: God is not playing “Gotcha”, as Betsy mentioned.:slight_smile:

If you live somewhere with infrequent access to the sacraments, you might want to talk with your confessor next time he comes round about your concern.

Thanks everyone. I’m quite sure that God who knows all hearts will always know mine whatever it is and without a doubt it is a good thing to always pray to God for a happy death.

All anyone us can do is repent, do penance, and in the end TRUST the God of Perfect Justice who is also the God ofLlove and Mercy.

If we love God and call out to him for help he will in no wise cast us out.

He may cast us out if we do not call upon Him.

Lord have mercy on all of us and save poor sinners!

This may be helpful to the discussion:

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Re: The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that if a person makes a “perfect” act of contrition, his mortal sins are forgiven if he has the firm amendment to go to sacramental confession as soon as possible. Does this mean that a person in the pew at Sunday morning Mass, after supposedly making a perfect act of contrition, can receive the Eucharist at that Mass?

I’ve been told that the peson cannot receive the Eucharist. They might indeed be already forgiven but that they must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before they can take the Eucharist.

Such would not be the case if they were in danger of death.

Does anyone know?

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