Perfect contrition

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Perfect contrition (from Latin contero "grind, crush, pound to pieces") in Catholic theology is a repentance for sin that is motivated by faith and the love of God. It contrasts with imperfect contrition, which arises from a less pure motive, such as common decency, or fear of Hell. The two types of contrition are distinguished by a person's motive for repentance, rather than the intensity of ones feelings or emotions. It is possible for perfect and imperfect contrition to be experienced simultaneously.[1]

According to Catholic theologians, "all that is required [for perfect contrition] is the standard of all human action, moral certainty."[2] A theologically sound "Act of Contrition" that is said with honesty and that reflects ones true intentions can provide the requisite amount of moral certainty.[3] A common and theologically sound "Act of Contrition" can be found in the following prayer:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all, because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace to confess my sins and to amend my life. Amen.

Perfect contrition removes the guilt and eternal punishment due to mortal sin, even before the sinner has received absolution in the sacrament of penance, if the person has a firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.[4][5][6] An example of this theological precept is demonstrated in the Code of Canon Law in canon 916, which states: "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."

In cases of imminent death, in which sacramental confession may not be possible, the firm resolution to go to sacramental confession, as soon as possible, if a person survives, also removes the guilt and eternal punishment due to mortal sin.[7][8][9]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph: 1492. 
  2. ^ Donovan, STL, Colin B. "Perfect Contrition". EWTN. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Donovan, STL, Colin B. "Perfect Contrition". EWTN. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph 1452. 
  5. ^ "PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION". International Theological Commission. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Perfect Contrition". Sed Contra. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Code of Canon Law (1984 ed.). Canon 916. 
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph 1452. 
  9. ^ "PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION". International Theological Commission. Retrieved 27 October 2014.