Why an Act of Contrition?
Contrition means that you reject your sins and resolve to avoid committing them in the future. Those seeking the sacrament of Confession usually say an Act of Contrition before the priest offers absolution of sin. The prayer, however, is not confined to the sacrament of Confession. Many people will pray the Act of Contrition before bed or at some other regular time during the day.
Praying the Act of Contrition helps us strive towards “metanoia.”
The USCCB describes metanoia as conversion or “to turn one’s mind around.” When we confess and demonstrate contrition, we turn our hearts and minds towards God, away from our own selfishness. Praying the Act of Contrition can be the first step in undergoing this powerful change that encompasses our thoughts and actions. As Pope Francis said in one of his first homilies, “The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”
The following Act of Contrition is the prayer we use at St. Louis to help turn our hearts and minds towards God and away from sin.
Determining Readiness for First Confession
• Able to reflect on his/her own attitudes and actions.
• Able to make appropriate choices.
• Able to understand the effect of his/her actions on others.
• Willingness to receive the sacrament.
• Able to understand Church affiliation.
• Able to relate to Jesus as one who forgives.
• Able to know the difference between right and wrong.
• Able to take pride in or regret his/her actions.
• Able to begin to distinguish between “wrong” and “sin.”
• Able to make amends.
• Able to pray and worship.
• Able to understand the sacramental rites.
From: “Signs of God’s Love”; Archdiocese of Baltimore Regulations and Guidelines