Fourth Week of Lent

Acts of Contrition

After you have confessed your sins during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest will ask you to say an Act of Contrition. There are several versions of this prayer, but they all express sorrow for having sinned and resolve to sin no more. Many confessionals have a card with an Act of Contrition you can read if you don't have one memorized. You also have the option of praying spontaneously as long as you express heartfelt contrition. Here are some options to use in Confession and in private prayer:

Traditional Act of Contrition 1

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 occasion of sin. Amen.

Traditional Act of Contrition 2

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.

Act of Contrition to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, for in my negligence and contempt my sins have crucified thee once more, thou who art deserving of all my love. Desiring to regain purity of soul that I might receive thee worthily in the Holy Mysteries, I beg thy forgiveness and vow to sin no more. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to offer my penance, to pray daily, to examine my conscience regularly, to avoid the near occasions of sin, and to amend my life. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto thine. Amen.

Simple Act of Contrition 1

O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin. Amen.

Simple Act of Contrition 2

O Lord Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been. Amen.

Thorough Act of Contrition

Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins; the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul, the sins of my body; my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins; the sins I know, the sins I do not know; the sins I have concealed for so long, and which are now hidden from my memory. I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial, for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour. I know my sins have wounded your Sacred Heart, O my Savior, let me be freed from the bonds of evil through your most bitter Passion, my Redeemer. Amen.

The Jesus Prayer

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

Psalm 24:6-7

Remember, Lord, your compassion and mercy which you showed long ago. Do not recall the sins and failings of my youth. In your mercy remember me, Lord, because of your goodness.

Prodigal Son Act of Contrition

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 light."

Healing Act of Contrition

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.

Friend of Sinners Act of Contrition

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.

Lamb of God Act of Contrition

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God; you take away the sins of the world. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit restore me to friendship with your Father, cleanse me from every stain of sin in the blood you shed for me, and raise me to new life for the glory of your name.

Psalm 51 Act of Contrition

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.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.