Contrition

Lesson 30 from the Baltimore Cathechism

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388. What is contrition?

Contrition is sincere sorrow for having offended God, and hatred for the sins we have committed, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.

Let the wicked man forsake his way and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord; and he will have mercy on him. (Isaiah 55:7)

389. Will God forgive us any sin unless we have true contrition for it?

God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it.

Now therefore saith the Lord: "Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:12-13)

390. When is sorrow for sin true contrition?

Sorrow for sin is true contrition when it is interior, supernatural supreme, and universal.

Create a pure heart for me, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit. (Psalm 50:12)

391. When is our sorrow interior?

Our sorrow is interior when it comes from our heart, and not merely from our lips.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 50:19)

392. When is our sorrow supernatural?

Our sorrow is supernatural when, with the help of God's grace, it arises from motives which spring from faith and not merely from natural motives.

393. When is our sorrow supreme?

Our sorrow is supreme when we hate sin above every other evil, and are willing to endure any suffering rather than offend God in the future by sin.

394. When is our sorrow universal?

Our sorrow is universal when we are sorry for every mortal sin which we may have had the misfortune to commit.

Turn thy face away from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (Psalm 50:11)

395. Should we always try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance?

We should try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance, and, when we have only venial sins to confess, we must have sorrow for at least one of them or for some sin of our past life which we confess.

396. Why should we have contrition for mortal sin?

We should have contrition for mortal sin because it is the greatest of all evils, gravely offends God, keeps us out of heaven, and condemns us forever to hell.

If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn. (John 15:6)

397. Why should we have contrition for venial sin?

We should have contrition for venial sin because it is displeasing to God, merits temporal punishment, and may lead to mortal sin.

398. How many kinds of contrition are there?

There are two kinds of contrition: perfect contrition and imperfect contrition.

399. When is our contrition perfect?

Our contrition is perfect when we are sorry for our sins because sin offends God, whom we love above all things for His own sake.

Create a pure heart for me, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit. (Psalm 50:12)

400. When is our contrition imperfect?

Our contrition is imperfect when we are sorry for our sins because they are hateful in themselves or because we fear God's punishment.

And the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned. Do thou unto us whatsoever pleaseth thee, only deliver us this time." (Judges 10:15)

401. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, what kind of contrition is sufficient?

To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, imperfect contrition is sufficient.

402. Should we always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance?

We should always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance because perfect contrition is more pleasing to God, and because with His help we can always have it.

403. How can a person in mortal sin regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance?

A person in mortal sin can regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance by making an act of perfect contrition with the sincere purpose of going to confession.

404. What should we do if we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin?

If we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin, we should ask God's pardon and grace at once, make an act of perfect contrition, and go to confession as soon as we can.

Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

405. May we receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition?

We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition; one who has sinned grievously must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

406. What is the firm purpose of sinning no more?

The firm purpose of sinning no more is the sincere resolve not only to avoid sin but to avoid as far as possible the near occasions of sin.

Go thy way, and from now on sin no more. (John 8:11)

407. What purpose of amendment must a person have if he has only venial sins to confess?

If a person has only venial sins to confess, he must have the purpose of avoiding at least one of them.

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