Skip to main content

Act of Contrition or Act of Sorrow

Yeah, it's going to be one of the "those" posts....

A Child's Our Father
Dear Dad, up in Heaven, your name is holy. We want your way in Heaven to be done on earth too. Please give us what we need today. Please forgive anything we might have done wrong and help us to forgive others. Keep us from hurting you too. Amen.

A Child's Hail Mary
Hi Mary, special woman, God bless you. You are a very special woman and your child is very special too. Mary, mother of Jesus, would you pray for us now and when we are getting ready to go to Heaven? Amen.

If you think those are great, you should probably stop reading and bask in your special-ness and click on the Coffee link. The rest of you may keep reading, especially if felt repulsed by the above prayers.

I can't imagine even the most wishy-washy parent or religion teacher teaching these prayers. Yet, this sort of thing is done all of the time with the Act of Contrition. Principals and DRE's tell us that the Act of Sorrow is taught until the student is old enough to really understand the words of the Act of Contrition. But rarely does this ever happen and it is really a waste of time. What teacher in their right mind would ever have a student memorize one of the above prayers only to leave another teacher to undo the work and have them memorize another "adult" form. Would anyone tolerate that if it was done with the Pledge of Allegiance?

Yes, I firmly believe that little Joe, who knows every inch of the Halo (computer video game)landscape by heart, can memorize the Act of Contrition. I firmly believe that little Brittany, who knows every word of Lady Gaga's latest hit, can memorize the Act of Contrition. My 5 year-old knows the Act of Contrition for crying out loud! And he should, then as we move toward First Reconciliation, we can expand on the meanings of the words.

I have had parents become angry when they learn that their child is learning an adult form of the Act of Contrition. Why aren't they angry about them learning the Our Father, Hail Mary, or Apostles Creed.

Some may think that I had too much coffee this morning and that it's not a big deal. I believe it is. Of course there are different "adult" versions of the Act of Contrition and I am not concerned with those. I am concerned by the constant desire of certain catechetical leaders to continually "dumb-down" the Catholic Faith. When this is done, more often, the Faith is watered down. Words have power and when these words are directly related to the Faith or to a Sacrament, they have even more power. Prayers, in fact, were at one time the main mode of catechesis. To change those prayers or worse, to water them down, changes the catechesis. Let's look at the "Act of Sorrow" and "Act of Contrition".

Act of Sorrow
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all of 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. Amen.

Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. I detest all of my sins because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are deserving of all of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all of my heart, in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good. The beginning is nearly the same as saying, "I am heartily sorry" which is easier and can be explained as "being sorry for my sins with all of my heart." "Choosing to do wrong and failing to do good," is sin, redundant.

It is at this point where there is a crucial difference between the Act of Contrition and the Act of Sorrow. Unlike the Act of Contrition, the Act of Sorrow makes no mention of detesting sins or recognition of punishment deserved. The Act of Contrition is just that and it addresses both types of contrition - imperfect (out of fear of punishment) and perfect (out of love of God). In our modern state of catechesis, the reality of punishment (eternal or temporal) is usually left out. This coincides with the lack of discipline in families today.

Some other words that alarm me and in my estimation have similar yet different meanings - (resolve vs intend), (your grace vs your help).

I am not so old as to be labeled old-fashioned. However, I am a firm believer in handing on the traditions that were handed on to me either written or by word of mouth without taking it upon myself to translate or interpret. Rather, I believe in the power of words and the ability of the human mind, even at a young age, to grasp the beauty and power of the Faith without dumbing things down. Our Father has a much different meaning than Dear Dad and Hail Mary has much different meaning than Hi Mary. Let us therefore, cease the dumbing-down of the Faith and begin teaching through the power of proper prayers.

Comments

Joshua Facemyer said…
I always liked the version which says "because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell" better than "Your just punishments"...sounds more foreboding to me...keeps me in line better...
scmom (Barbara) said…
Amen. Amen.

And I'm going to remember that bit about video games when my seventh grade son says he can't do his math. He's busted. Thanks. ;-)

Popular posts from this blog

2016 Rosary-A-Day Giveaway

That's right!  For the month of October we will be giving away one of our handcrafted cord knot rosaries each day during the month of October, the month of the Rosary.

For your chance to win, simply send an email to (webmaster@realliferosary.com) with the words "Rosary-A-Day" in the subject line.  Each day we'll randomly pick a name to win a free "surprise me" (our choice of colors) rosary.  We'll also be giving away some copies of Rosary Meditations for Real Life throughout the month from those names submitted.  Make sure to not be selfish, share the love and let others know!  Good luck!

One winner per household.  Please enter only once, you will receive an email confirming your entry.  Multiple entries from one email address will be deleted. Any order through our site will qualify you for a second entry. Your email will stay in until you win or until the end of the month.  US residents only please unless you are willing to pay the $15 shipping.  Than…

Catherine's Mobile Stander

I've once again learned to not underestimate this girl.  At school she has been receiving therapy using this stander to help her gain strength and stamina.  We brought it home for the summer and I'm simply blown away.

I'm amazed at how proficient she is at maneuvering such a device.  She is able to roll around corners, through doorways, over carpet and more.  Catherine makes it look easy and she does so with the hand-eye coordination of a professional gamer.



However, what really amazes me is her disposition when she is in this contraption.  There are tons of books and videos addressing the power of posture, the power of physical positioning and it's influence on the mental position and mental health.  
These short (35 minute) sessions that Catherine experiences twice per day confirms the theories.  Each time she is placed in the stander her demeanor changes.  She's happy, smiles more (if that's possible) and is more outgoing.  She wheels around the house greet…

Take Up Your Cross

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

In the First Reading, Moses challenges the people, and us, to "choose life". He says, "choose life, that you and your descendants may live." This seems pretty practical. If we choose life, we and our descendants will go on. If not, well...

However, I think we need to look deeper. In fact, I would encourage you to insert a word here in the scriptures, if only mentally - "choose eternal life." For most of us, choosing life is not much of a choice in the arena of our daily lives. Most of us do not rise in the morning with the thought of I'm going to choose to live this day racing through our brains. Yet choosing eternal life must be an everyday, and in fact every moment, choice. It is an effort to make those choices day after day and minute after minute. In some degree, every choice we make throughout our day is a choice for either eternal life or eternal death - therefore choose life!

So how then do we "choo…