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How to make an Act of Perfect Contrition

How to Make an Act of Perfect Contrition

 

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Saint Maximilian Kolbe wrote a letter to his followers.

The purpose of this letter was to exhort his disciples to prepare themselves for the approaching feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8.

But it also showed them how to receive forgiveness for sin in the coming war, where priests were scarce and it was hard to receive sacramental confession.

 

He wrote:

"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance.  Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."

 

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This is a magnificent formula and lesson on how to make an act of perfect contrition.

As most people know, there are two types of contrition:

- perfect: out of love of God;

- imperfect: out of fear of Hell.

Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione). (The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Contrition")

When we go to confession, imperfect contrition is sufficient to receive the pardon of our sins.

However, in extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is sufficient to have our sins forgiven.

 

Important: The act of perfect contrition includes the desire for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) and the intention to receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity.

 

NOTE: One who is conscious of mortal sin may not receive the Holy Eucharist without prior sacramental confession.

The fact that we can always make an act of perfect contrition, in any circumstance, and at any time, is very consoling and very important to remember.

Especially when we think of our troops who are in harm's way.  They may not have a chaplain in their battalion before entering battle.  In that case, they should always say an act of perfect contrition.

Actually, not only in extraordinary circumstances should we make acts of perfect contrition. At any time, if we have the misfortune of committing a mortal sin, we should seek to reconcile ourselves with God as soon as possible by an act of perfect contrition, before going to confession.

Furthermore, even not being guilty of serious sin, we should make frequent acts of perfect contrition to ask forgiveness for the serious sins of the past, and for the venial sins of the present.

In doing so, we show our love for God. And we prove our aversion to sin, which offends Him. In doing so, we surely receive more abundant graces to sin no more. A highly recommended practice is to include an act of contrition in our "before bed" prayers.

 

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

Amen. 

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 2, 2021

The state of grace is nothing other than purity, and it give...

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August 2

 

The state of grace is nothing other than purity,
and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it.
Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace
purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity,
exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults.
Purity will make saints of you!
Everything lies in this.

St. Peter Julian Eymard


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Eusebius of Vercelli

The Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up i...

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St. Eusebius of Vercelli

Eusebius was born on the island of Sardinia where his father died a martyr. His mother took him and his sister to live in Rome where Eusebius eventually joined the clergy and was ordained a lector. He was sent to Vercelli and served the Church so well there that he was chosen as its bishop. He is the first bishop of Vercelli whose name was recorded.

In 354 he was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the Emperor Constantius to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian disputes. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arians would have their way. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Saint Athanasius, who’s  refusal to tolerate Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions. Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after Eusebius undertook a four-day hunger strike. They soon resumed their harassment.

His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to return to his see in Vercelli. He died in 371.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by h...

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.