Act of Contrition
An act of contrition is a Christian prayer genre that expresses sorrow for sins. It may be used in a liturgical service or be used privately, especially in connection with an examination of conscience.
The Catholic Church does not restrict the term "act of contrition" to any one formula. Its Handbook on Indulgences mentions as examples of approved formulas for an act of contrition the Confiteor, the Psalm De Profundis, the Psalm Miserere, the Gradual Psalms and the Penitential Psalms.
- 1 A particular Latin formula and its English translations
- 2 Latin text and other English variants
- 3 Other formulas for acts of contrition
- 4 Anglican General Confession
- 5 Lutheran formula
- 6 References
- 7 External links
A particular Latin formula and its English translations
Within the Catholic Church, the term "act of contrition" is often applied to one particular formula, which is not given expressly in the handbook of Indulgences.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that "Among the penitent’s acts, contrition occupies first place. Contrition is 'sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed together with the resolution not to sin again.' 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 if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible" (CCC 1451–1452).
The Latin text and a number of English versions that approximate to the Latin text are given here.
Latin text and other English variants
- Deus meus, ex toto corde pænitet me omnium meorum peccatorum,
- eaque detestor, quia peccando,
- non solum pœnas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum,
- sed præsertim quia offendi te,
- summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris.
- Ideo firmiter propono,
- adiuvante gratia tua,
- de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.
Popular American English version
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with the help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us; in his name, my God, have mercy. Amen
A popular Catholic American English version
- O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You,
- and I detest all my sins because I offend You, my God,
- Who is all good and deserving of all my love.
- I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace,
- to do penance,
- and to amend my life. Amen.
Another popular American English version
- 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 amend my life. Amen.
A version popular in Canadian English and the northern U.S.
- My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
- In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
- I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things.
- I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
- Our Saviour Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us.
- In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen
A modern version taught in Religious Education
- Lord have mercy on me
- Do not look upon my sins
- But take away all my guilt
- Create in me a clean heart
- And renew within me an upright spirit
Irish version in use in 1960s
- O my God, I am heartily sorry
- for having offended Thee
- and I detest my sins
- above every other evil
- because they displease Thee, my God,
- Who, in Thy infinite wisdom,
- art so deserving of all my love
- and I firmly resolve
- with the help of Thy grace
- never more to offend Thee
- and to amend my life.
- Amen.
Other formulas for acts of contrition
The following are some formulas for acts of contrition that differ more considerably from the Latin text given above.
- My Lord, I am heartily sorry for all my sins,
- help me to live like Jesus and not sin again.
- My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
- In choosing to do wrong, and failing to do good, I have sinned against You,
- whom I should love above all things.
- I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
- and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
- Oh my God, I am sorry that I have sinned against you.
- Because you are so good, and with your help,
- I will try not to sin again.
- Oh My God, because you are so good,
- I am very sorry that I have sinned against you,
- and by the help of your grace, I will try not sin again.
- O my God, I am sorry for my sins. In choosing to sin, and failing to do good, I have sinned against You and Your Church. I firmly intend, with the help of Your Son, to do good and to sin no more. Amen.
- O my God, I am very sorry for all my sins because they offend You, Who are so good, and with Your help, I will not sin again. Amen.
Anglican General Confession
The Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of England, The Episcopal Church (in the United States) and other member churches, has its own act of contrition, referred to in the Prayer Book as the General Confession. This is said by the Congregation en masse during worship. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer contains two versions. The first (for use at Matins and Evensong) is:
- ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father;
- We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
- We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
- We have offended against thy holy laws.
- We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
- And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
- And there is no health in us.
- But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
- Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults.
- Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
The second (for use during Holy Communion) is:
ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Maker of all things, judge of all men;Amen.
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed,
By thought, word, and deed,
Against thy Divine Majesty,
Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.
We do earnestly repent,
And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;
The remembrance of them is grievous unto us;
The burden of them is intolerable.
Have mercy upon us,
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
Forgive us all that is past;
And grant that we may ever hereafter
Serve and please thee in newness of life,
To the honour and glory of thy Name;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Modernized forms can be found in other Anglican Prayer Books.
- O Almighty God, merciful Father,
- I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities,
- with which I have ever offended you and justly deserved your punishment now and forever.
- But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them,
- and I pray you of your boundless mercy,
- and for the sake of the holy, innocent,
- bitter sufferings and death of your beloved son, Jesus Christ,
- to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.
- Bowden, John; Bowden, John Stephen (2005). Christianity: The Complete Guide. Continuum. ISBN 9780826459374. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
Forms for the reconciliation of a penitent may also be found in contemporary prayer books of Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed Churches.
- "Thesaurus Precum Latinarum". Preces-latinae.org. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- EWTN, An Act of Contrition
- "Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops". Cccb.ca. 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- "Act of Contrition Prayer Cards". 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2013-03-20.