When to say the Act of Contrition?

I have been to confession twice at this parish. I didn’t exactly know how to go about it. I said “Bless me father for I have sinned, my last confession was _____ ago” and all that; I knew that at the end I should say the Act of Contrition, but I didn’t know when. He didn’t prompt me to say and it and both times I left without.

When do you say it? Should I just go ahead and…say it? When? I won’t expect a priest to prompt me, but I don’t know exactly when I should do so.

I don’t recall my confessor not telling me towhee to make an Act of contrition… And because of that, I can’t recall exactly when, (even though I confessed this morning), but it was either before or after absolution.

Just as a side note, you mention THE act of contrition (a scripted traditional prayer)…for whatever reason I have never memorized the prayer, I guess I coil dread it, but typically I pray from the heart, or read from the 51st psalm.

I say it all the time, confession or not. In confession it is before the absolution and usually I am prompted. Father gives me a card to read from.

We get this all the time here, in Mexico. Priests are so overburdened that they often don’t even get everybody confessed. So, we are expected to go out, say the Act of Contrition, immediately on our own, after confession. That’s what I do.

Outside of that, you can say it additionally, whenever you want.

At the Catholic church and the Catholic grade school I attended, when we children were about to make the Sacrament of Penance for the first time, the priest declared:
Say the Act of Contrition before the priest gave the absolution.:gopray::signofcross:

I say it when prompted by the priest, after he gives me my penance in confession. If he doesn’t prompt me then I say it immediately after leaving the confessional, after receiving absolution.

The act of contrition is also appropriate during Night Prayer.

Yes, before absolution.

And, any time you are unsure, please remember the priest is there to help you - he’s on your side as your advocate. So, ask him for help and guidance. I work with “reverts” and suggest they start by saying “Father, it’s been XXX years and I really need your help to make a good confession.” If you’re behind a screen and start in a traditional manner, Father cannot know if you are someone who needs guidance or not, so tell him if you do it won’t hurt his feelings and will definitely help the process to go very smoothly.

In a local parish, the priest asks penitents to say their act of contrition and he absolves of the sin simultaneously. To me, this seems a reasonable situation in which we are both offering and receiving at the same time - a mutual interchange with God. And, as to formulaic or rote prayers, they are not magic, so their efficacy (as with any prayer) depends upon us praying them from our hearts.

If the priest does not ask for the Act of Contrition, just say it after Confession. I also say one before.

From the new rite for the Sacrament of Penance from 1974, one may use this short prayer for the act of contrition, before (or even when) the priest gives the absolution:“Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Start right after the giving of the penance.


During confessions at my parish, the priest nearly always asks me to say the act of contrition along with my penance in the pew, not in the confessional. That’s mainly to keep the line moving.

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