The Old Act of Contrition From The Baltimore Catechism

The Perfect Act Of Contrition Prayer

The perfect Act of Contrition prayer is from the 1885 Baltimore Catechism.

This version is the same prayer that was published in the Baltimore Catechism in 1885 and covers the most intentions with the fewest words.

I treasure having learned it in grade school because it really seemed to "cover" everything: my love for God, my love for family, and my true sorrow for all my sins.

It is the sorrow for the love of God that makes it perfect. See an explanation below the prayer.

Old Act of Contrition prayer from the Catholic Baltimore Catechism.Baltimore Catechism Perfect Act Of Contrition

The Perfect Act of Contrition

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 I have offended Thee, My God,

Who art 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.

Teaching The Act Of Contrition

Usually we teach the Act of Contrition when we are preparing for Confession in the Sacrament of Penance.

  • Next to learning the prayers of the Rosary, it is the first most important prayer to learn. 
  • We use it in receiving the sacrament of Penance and for a nightly examination of conscience. 
  • This Act is one of the prayers we should pray every day, especially when in danger of death.

Learning this prayer is easy when you have someone to help you, or when you have an audio recording like St. Anne's Helper Baltimore Catechism Downloads and CDs.

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Four Acts Prayers

Be sure to teach this prayer to your little ones long before you teach the other Acts (Faith, Hope, and Charity).

Maybe years, as these prayers start so similarly that it can be confusing for little ones to learn the other prayers before their first confession.

Why? They all four start with the same "Oh my God!" and the Act of Contrition has a phrase that is super similar to the Act of Charity, "Who art all-good and worthy of all my love".

Have your children wait to learn the Act of Charity until they learn the Act of Contrition well and maybe even after at least a year after they are handy going to confession.

Why Is This Prayer Called The Perfect Act?

The Perfect Act of Contrition is the best prayer that Catholics use for the Sacrament of Penance (Catholic Reconciliation) and at night before retiring with Rosary with a brief examination of conscience.

It covers the contrition necessary to cover a mortal sin until the penitent can go to Sacramental Confession. In this way it is one of the most important Catholic prayers when one is in danger of death!

What makes it perfect? 

Loving God makes the act perfect.

It's a perfect act because

  • Contrition includes being sorry for sin because of loving God Who is worthy of all our love, 
  • Not merely attrition which is simply wishing one had not committed the sin simply for the fear of Hell, the hope of Heaven, or some other personal gain.

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