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An act of contrition is a Christian prayer that expresses sorrow for sins. It may be used in a liturgical service or be used privately, especially in connection with an examination of conscience.

Special formulas for acts of contrition are in use in the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican Churches.

The Catholic Church does not restrict the term "act of contrition" to any one formula. Its Handbook on Indulgences mentions as examples of approved formulas for an act of contrition the Confiteor, the Psalm De Profundis, the Psalm Miserere, the Gradual Psalms and the Penitential Psalms.[1]

Contents

A particular Latin formula and its English translations

Within the Catholic Church, the term "act of contrition" is often applied to one particular formula, which is not given expressly in the Handbook of Indulgences. The Latin text and a number of English versions that approximate to the Latin text are given here.

Latin text

Deus meus, ex toto corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum,
eaque detestor, quia peccando,
non solum poenas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum,
sed praesertim quia offendi te,
summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris.
Ideo firmiter propono,
adiuvante gratia tua,
de cetero me non peccatorum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.
Amen.[2]

United States English translation (as in Baltimore Catechism)

O my God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because of thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help
of Thy grace to sin no more
and avoid the near occasions of sin.
Amen.[2]

Another English version

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended you,
and I detest all my sins
because I fear the loss of heaven
and the pains of hell,
but most of all because I offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace
to confess my sins, to do penance,
and to amend my life.
Amen.[3]

Another English version

Oh My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.

In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.[4]

Irish version in use in 1960s

O my God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee
and I detest my sins
above every other evil
because they displease Thee, my God,
Who, in Thy infinite wisdom,
art so deserving of all my love
and I firmly resolve
with the help of Thy grace
never more to offend Thee
and to amend my life.
Amen.[citation needed]

Another English version in use circa 1970

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.[citation needed]

Another English version

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they have offended Thee my God, Lord of all. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.[citation needed]

Other formulas for acts of contrition

The following are some formulas for acts of contrition that differ more considerably from the Latin text given above.

My Lord, I am heartily sorry for all my sins,
help me to live like Jesus and not sin again.
Amen.
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong, and failing to do good, I have sinned against You,
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Amen.
Oh My God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you.
Because you are so good, and with your help,
I will try not to sin again.
Amen.
Oh My God, because you are so good,
I am very sorry that I have sinned against you,
and by the help of your grace, I will try not sin again.
Amen.
O my God, I am sorry for my sins. In choosing to sin, and failing to do good, I have sinned against You and Your Church. I firmly intend, with the help of Your Son, to do good and to sin no more. Amen.
O my God, I am very sorry for all my sins because they offend You, Who are so good, and with Your help, I will not sin again. Amen.

Anglican General Confession

The Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of England, The Episcopal Church (in the United States) and other member churches, has its own act of contrition, referred to in the Prayer Book as the General Confession. This is said by the Congregation en masse during regular worship services. The original form in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Modernized forms can be found in other Anglican Prayer Books.

Lutheran formula

The Lutheran Church also has its own act of contrition, which is said during Holy Absolution. The following version, taken from the Lutheran Service Book (2006), says:

O Almighty God, merciful Father,
I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities,
with which I have ever offended you and justly deserved your punishment now and forever.
But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them,
and I pray you of your boundless mercy,
and for the sake of the holy, innocent,
bitter sufferings and death of your beloved son, Jesus Christ,
to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.

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