Catholics pray a special prayer to express contrition for our sins before and during the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Learn more about contrition and download our Catholic Act of Contrition prayer card to use and share during the penitential season of Lent and the sacrament of Penance.
What is an Act of Contrition?
Contrition is a heartfelt sorrow for our sins and our desire to sin no more. An Act of Contrition, therefore, is a prayer that Catholics pray to express this contrition. An Act of Contrition is prayed in many circumstances, particularly preparation for and during the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
The first major part of the Sacrament of Penance that we celebrate as Catholics is contrition. Penitents must pray an Act of Contrition during this part of the sacrament. Those preparing for the first reception of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation must be able to recite an Act of Contrition. There are many variations of Acts of Contrition. To qualify as an Act of Contrition, the prayer must express sorrow for sin as well as a resolve to not sin again, usually with the help of God’s grace.
Connection to the Liturgical Year
The penitential season of Lent is a time of conversion and an opportunity to reflect on ways that we can turn to God with all our hearts. During this six-week Lenten season, Catholics are encouraged by the Church to engage in three spiritual practices – prayer, penance, and almsgiving. We are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance during Lent.
Advent is another season in which many Catholics prepare by celebrating the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Advent is a time to reflect on our readiness for Christ’s second coming and an opportunity to prepare for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Download our Catholic Act of Contrition prayer card, in English or Spanish, to share with the students in your Religious Education program who are preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Explain that Catholics pray an Act of Contrition to express sorrow for our sins and a promise to try not to sin again. Encourage them to pray this prayer during the Lent or Advent seasons or anytime they are preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Catholics pray an Act of Contrition to express sorrow for our sins and a promise to try not to sin again. While appropriate for any time of year, this prayer is ideal to pray during the seasons of Lent and Advent and in preparation for celebrating the Sacrament of Penance.