Perfect Contrition is a meditative prayer recited during Confession, usually before and after a Confession. There are two forms; the short and the long contrition. In preparation of a contrite heart, itis said right before the priest pronounces the words of absolution: I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The prayer can also be said outside confession times. Most especially, it is encouraged to be said before going to bed every night.
However, it is not a prayer to be made without deeper thoughts or indulgence for our sins, if there should be a guarantee for us to be forgiven. It is a prayer that professes one’s deepest emotions and affections; showing a repentant heart and a spirit will be obedient to the words of God. No matter how accurate the recitation is, if the motives are not aligned to a contrite heart, nothing would happen.
STEP 1: BE SORRY FOR YOUR SINS AND ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
The word Contrition is culled from the Latin Dictionary which reads Latincontristare – meaning To be with sadness. Thus, the reason the prayer begins by saying “Oh My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you”. This is the point where we express our emotions to God, the feeling of guilt that tugs on our conscience and the candid acknowledgement of the things we have done wrong. The pouring out of our deepest emotions is the first step to forgiveness. This is the same emotion that brought us to God to restitute for our sins. Without which we wouldn’t be there in the first place.
STEP 2: RENOUNCE THE DEVIL AND HIS WORKS
After the expression of how sorry we are to have gone against God’s will, we are supposed to spend a moment renouncing the sins, the Devil who puts in bad thoughts in our hearts and all vanity. The Love of God cannot exist with darkness, and the hatred of sin makes it easy to live according to the Gospel Truth. This is the most difficult step in contrition as it brings forth the non-existent of good with evil. You have to choose God or not, but there is no luxury fo an in-between life. This is not to say that sin would totally flee from us, it simply urges us to restrain and resist it.
STEP 3: RESOLVE TO AMEND YOUR LIFE IN CHRIST
Every authentic Act of Contrition must include a solemn promise to stop sinning. The traditional form has these words: “I firmly resolve with the help of Your grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” Many people, of course, baulk at this promise, pleading, “I am only human and will inevitably sin again. Should I still make such a promise?” Yes.
Every perfect Act of Contrition bears a sincere promise to avoid sins and everything that looks like it. It affords a promise not to sin again in the phrase “I firmly resolve with the help of Your grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” This part often raises controversy and doubt by most, on the possession of our weak flesh. Statements like “But I am only human. How can I keep to this promise? The answer is “It is possible. Trust In God to guide you.”