dear father Angelo,
I’ve lived abroad for 4 years, I’m Catholic, but my faith is wavering…
I would like to know: when I fall into grave sin and cannot confess, can I ask God for forgiveness directly in prayer while awaiting confession or recite the act of contrition to obtain ready forgiveness from God?
Obviously the confession will follow…
Response from the priest
1. You just have to do that.
An act of perfect contrition with the intention of confessing as soon as it is possible already leads to the grace of God, even if it does not yet give the possibility to receive Holy Communion.
2. We perform a perfect act of contrition when we regret having cast God out of our lives and have crucified the Lord in our hearts again.
3. If, on the other hand, we are sorry only for the fear of going to hell, although this contrition is good, it is called imperfect. In fact, we are sorry more for the pains we receive than for the evil we have done.
4. By reciting the act of contrition, the Church guides us to perform an act of perfect contrition.
When you say: because by sinning I deserved your punishments, you express an act of imperfect contrition, also called attrition;
When you say: and much more because I have offended You infinitely good and worthy of being loved above all, you express a perfect act of contrition.
5. Not only is it a good thing to do a perfect act of contrition right away as soon as you realize you have lost God’s grace, but it is right for several reasons:
first, because it is almost impossible to remain in mortal sin for some time without falling into new sins, which offend God and worsen our situation.
Saint Gregory the Great says: “Sin not repaired immediately with penance, with its weight leads to other sins” (In Ezechiels homilia, 11).
second, because of the danger of being eternally lost in sudden death.
Holy Scripture repeatedly warns of this possibility when it exhorts: “Do not wait to be converted to the Lord, and do not postpone from day to day, because suddenly the anger of the Lord will break out and at the time of punishment you will be annihilated” (Sir 5, 8-9); “Watch therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25:13); “You too get ready because the Son of man will come at an hour you do not think” (Lk 12:40).
third, because to remain voluntarily in mortal sin, especially if it is very long, manifests a certain contempt for God, since it is considered of little consequence to live in friendship with him.
fourth, because all good works done without God’s grace do not deserve eternal life. Jesus clearly said: “Whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Mt 12:30).
For all these reasons it is most fitting that we immediately rise from sin and repent as soon as possible.
I assure you of a prayer for a good and fruitful Lent.
I salute you and bless you.
Translated from GERMANA CASACCIA