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Awesome advice on! having proper contrition for our sins June 18, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, mortification, Sacraments, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.

A brief initial statement: I am seeing unfortunate conflict in the comments.  That has rarely been a problem on this blog.  Look, folks, we’re all adults, let’s not pass judgments on others for an occasional lapse, and let’s not wear our feelings on our sleeves.  Let’s also not issue blanket condemnations because someone in a moment of passion used a slightly bad word.  I haven’t the time to police every comment and don’t want to invest the energy in doing so.  I’ve always maintained that commenting here is a privilege, not a right.   So please do not make the comments a problem for me to deal with, or I will go the Rorate route.  Enough said – but please don’t take this post as an implication that anyone bears guilt of sin based on the above!  It is strictly incidental!

There are four aspects for the completion of a good confession.  These are:

1. We must heartily pray for Grace to make a good confession (preparation)
2. We must carefully examine our conscience (examination)
3. We must take time and care to make a good act of contrition
4.  We must resolve by the help of God to renounce our sins and to amend our life (amendment)

I have seen many good sources on the first two, but not as much on the last two, and especially the third. I thought the guidance given in Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass was excellent, and so I will share it with you.  From pp. 88-89:

We must take time and care to make a good act of contrition.  This is the chief part of our preparation, without which all the rest is worse than useless.  Have we gathered together every sin we have committed?  Not one will be forgiven without contrition.  And on the other hand, should any sin, even a grievous one, be forgotten after sufficient care, our act of contrition, which would include that and every other grievous sin if we remembered it, would blot it out.

Now what is this contrition that we must have?……it is a hearty sorrow for our sins, because by them we have offended so good a God, together with a firm purpose of amendment.  Notice that true sorrow looks two ways – backwards, to hate sin in the past; and forwards, to avoid it in the future.

The best motive for sorrow is God Himself – to be sorry for God’s sake, because He is infinitely good and deserving of all love, and because by sin we have displeased and disappointed Him Whom we love. This perfect contrition is so pleasing to God, that it gets forgiveness at once for all guilt, mortal or venial, even before confession and absolution. [If you have loved ones who are outside the Church, there are ways for them to make express remorse for their sins with perfect contrition.  I will cover those in a later post, God willing.] If sufficiently intense, it remits all punishment, too, eternal and temporal.  It remits more or less, according to our dispositions. [And thus having perfect contrition, implying no attachment to sin, can serve as a plenary indulgence and eliminate  our time in Purgatory] Imperfect contrition, called also attrition, is supernatural sorrow, but chiefly for our own sake, because we have lost heaven, or deserved hell or Purgatory.  Though less perfect than the other, it is good and put into our hearts by the Holy Ghost.  It will forgive venial sin and remit a part of the temporal punishment, and is sufficient when joined with sacramental Confession and absolution for the forgiveness of mortal sin.

See how necessary contrition is: it almost seems to be the one thing necessary. We simply must have it.  Now how are we to get it?  The catechism says: “by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.”  The sorrow of our will is in our power; we can and must give it to Him.  Like all good things it must come from Him, but He has promised that all who ask shall receive and all who seek shall find.  We will ask for it with all our heart, and we will seek for it by thinking over some of the things which will move us to it.  This is our part; if we do it, God will come in and do His.

[A prayer imploring God for the Grace of true contrition for sins…..] My God, give me true sorrow for having offended You.  I must come to You for it.  I cannot get it my myself. But I know You want to give it to me more than I want to have it.  I know there is nothing You are so pleased to give.  You tell me to ask and I shall receive, to seek and I shall find, to knock and it shall be opened to me.  I am asking, seeking, knocking now. Give me what I need – perfect contrition for all my sins, sorrow for them because they ave offended You Who are so good. Grant me what I ask, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  


I pray on Monday to also excerpt the portion on purpose of amendment.  Events of the past few days have prevented me from doing several posts I should have liked to otherwise.


1. Mrs. Maureen Avila - June 19, 2015

Some caution about perfect contrition ( contrition because you offended God )rather than imperfect contrition based on fear of eternal punishment: The late Fr. Groeschel cautioned that under average circumstances, most people not in the state of grace are not capable of perfect contrition without some extraordinary grace of God, so it is important to confess mortal sin promptly.

Tim - June 20, 2015

Several years ago our parish priest gave a talk on sin and went over the requirements for a valid perfect act of contrition, after which he looked up at and said, “I wish you luck.”
Food for thought.

Tantumblogo - June 22, 2015

Yes absolutely. Great point. Perfect contrition is probably rarely achieved. I think Fr. Corapi, before he fell again, made that point several times. Relying on perfect contrition is a huge gamble, because who really knows that they haven’t a little bit of self-interest mixed in with their death-bed mea culpa?

I’ve said it many times before, but to be clear, I’ll say it again: the likelihood of salvation outside the Church is exceedingly slight. I would bet 1 in a thousand do not make it, if even that many. I am not exaggerating in the slightest.

2. TG - June 19, 2015

I have trouble with number 4. I resolve to change but as soon as someone gets on my nerves, I sin. It’s like I just forget and react. I am always confessing the same venial sins. Does anybody have that problem?

3. camper - June 20, 2015

Dear Tantum
Earlier, I did the equivalent of raising my voice at the Pope and I castigated someone for swearing or using God’s name in vain. I also called the Pope a heretic. Clearly, I shouldn’t have disrespected the office, and I knew it when I was doing it. I am sick of this monster, and he is a monster. I also insist on calling him a heretic. His routine evil ramblings usually imply that we need to vote for the welfare state, which is heretical, despite the support of Leo XIII and other recent Popes because it contradicts what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa, the passage I have cited multiple times on your blog: I-II Q. 96 Art. 4. However, like Leo XIII, he is not a formal heretic because no one has really challenged HH in a scholarly and public way. He instead is a material heretic. Orwell correctly predicted that the future of mankind was a boot stamping on a human face forever partly because good kings and aristocrats have been overthrown by democracy, and because the bishops have therefore lost natural guides to what holiness is – kings and aristocrats. So until we are snuffed out by the heathens, we might as well support what is true.

Correct economics and political philosophy are just as true as mathematics or physics. With them one cannot argue. One also should not argue with St. Thomas because the saint will win. On the other hand, I know that since this is your blog, I will get booted if I persist. However, your blog will be much poorer if you boot me, and you know it. I ask you to castigate/edit those whom you see swearing so that I won’t be… tempted? to do it myself. My question to you is, will you forbid me from arguing my thesis that the Pope is a material heretic?

4. camper - June 20, 2015

Excuse me, the bishops have lost sight of what greatness is because of the overthrow of kings and aristocrats. But greatness, when it comes to the defense of property, is related to holiness.

5. skeinster - June 22, 2015

Let me second your mention of Treasure and Tradition. What a wonderful resource- and beautiful, too!

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