Make a REAL Act of Contrition

Rembrandt, Return of the Prodigal Son

We all deep down want to be more of a Catholic Hipster.  Here is a great way to boost your anti-mainstream points while also diving deeper into the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a way that I bet at least 80% of Catholics don't.

If you have been a Catholic your whole life or have at least been going to Confession regularly for awhile, then you are familiar with the act of contrition.  (Remember the part of the sacrament after you have confessed all your sins and the priest has given you your penance, and then asks that you make an act of contrition?)

Most people are familiar with this prayer, or some translation similar to it:

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 Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

This is a great prayer, but did you know the official Rite of Reconciliation provides many other beautiful options for your act of contrition?  When I first came across these options while in college I was struck by how beautiful, varying, and expressive they are.  Having these options available gave me new ways to pray an act of contrition from my heart that really corresponded with how I feel at the time.  It was a new experience of the Sacrament, and another way to enter in more fully.  If you want to get really adventurous, the Rite of Reconciliation allows for us to pray in our own words the act of contrition!

Familiarity SOMETIMES breeds contempt, (I am in no way saying that the Sacraments are repetitive and boring) especially with things we weren't properly catechized about, or just memorized without any thought.  Changing things up or learning more about the Sacraments are ways to make them really come alive.  It would be great if you could memorize more than one, then you could pick one that best reflects your disposition at the time!

Here are a few versions acceptable for the Act of Contrition according to the Sacramentary. The following texts of ritual form "A" (individual absolution) is that approved for use in the United Sates by the NCCB and confirmed by the Holy See.  Enjoy!

Father, I have sinned against you and am not worthy to be called your son. Be merciful to me, a sinner

Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: "I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your son." Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief to whom you promised paradise: "Lord, remember me in your kingdom." Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust: "Purify my heart, and help me to walk as a child of the light."

Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me: do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter's denial confirmed him in your love. Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.

Lord Jesus, you chose to be called the friend of sinners. By your saving death and resurrection free me from my sins. May your peace take root in my heart and bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.

(Taken from Catholic Rites Today, Abridged Text for Students pages 410-414)

***I'm really interested to know which act of contrition you were taught to pray during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Share below in the cool people's comment box.