What Is the Act of Contrition Prayer?

The Act of Contrition is a prayer recited by Roman Catholics to expressing sorrow for their sins either before or after making a sacramental confession. There is no set formula, but there are several popular English translations used today.

The Council of Trent defines contrition as “a sorrow of soul and hatred of the sin committed, with a firm purpose of not sinning in the future.” The Catholic Church distinguishes between perfect contrition, in which the sinner is sorry for offending God, and imperfect contrition, in which the sinner is simply afraid of going to hell. Contrition, perfect or imperfect, is required for the sinner to receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.