A Thorough Contritional Prayer




Without a Catholic priest you can’t have your mortal sins forgiven. This is because God chooses to work through the priest, who stands in His Stead. Yet today, during the Great Apostasy, we have no priests to absolve us since each & every one of them either denies the Salvation Dogma (whether pretending that the infallible statement of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ doesn’t plainly mean what it plainly says, or just straight-out ignoring the fact that Roman Catholics of old never believed it to have any exceptions) or else contradicts the Salvation Dogma (carelessly or willfully serving the Sacraments to those who aren’t Catholic, apart from Baptism). Whichever, obstinacy in such things reveals them to be not upholding the Catholic Faith whole & undefiled, and thus shows them to be not actually Catholic. Church Law commanding Catholics to avoid all religious association with non-Catholics (such as praying in union with them, attending non-Catholic religious services, going to Mass with them, or receiving the Sacraments from them, etc.), the real Catholic today is in extremely serious danger of Hell, far more so than at other times.


For instance, sins of impurity --- which are a breaking of the sixth & ninth commandments --- are always mortal, even those sins of impurity that embrace mere thoughts of impurity. They are also very easy for human beings, especially men, to commit, particularly during the horribly filthy times we live in, when fornication is rampant, whores celebrated everywhere, and women are blatantly immodest in public. It takes extreme isolation or militant holiness to avoid giving in to such temptations, if only in the privacy of one’s imagination. Most of us are not enough like hermits or consistently virtuous. How, then, can we go a day or a week or a month without soiling our souls in a way that will send us to Hell? And with no priest to whom we may turn, how will we escape the damnation that awaits us, receiving absolution for our deadly offenses?


Fortunately, the Church teaches us that in a time of emergency we may confess alone before Heaven and have our mortal sins forgiven as long as we have perfect contrition for them. This is in contrast to confession to a priest, where only imperfect contrition is necessary for forgiveness. Imperfect contrition is sorrow for your sin because you are afraid of suffering hellfire for it or because you are disgusted with the ugliness of your iniquity. Whereas perfect contrition is sorrow for your sin because, more than anything else, you love God above all things and are so very sorry to have offended Him, losing His friendship as a result.


The catch is, perfect contrition is not as easy to practice as imperfect contrition is. This is because most of us don’t really love God that much. We may fear His punishment, but don’t really care if He’s offended! So what are we to do?


First, realize that, however much harder it is to have perfect contrition, it is not impossible. Nor do you have to be a very great saint to achieve it. You simply have to freely will to do the right thing, that’s all. A flood of tears and passionate feelings of sorrow are good --- and wonderfully helpful! --- yet contrition is, to begin with, a free act of the will in conjunction with the mind. Which means, when you get right down to it, that you simply have to know what to do and actually do it. Racking sobs & plentiful tears are a big plus… not an absolute necessity. The emotion of sorrow is a beautiful tool… not the bare essence of what perfect contrition is. And I say this because lots of poor souls will fall into despair if they don’t realize it. Although, on the other hand, lots of arrogant & careless souls have already fallen into presumption because they don’t think God truly cares about our mortal sins since we don’t have priests to turn to. I mean, He must not consider priests & confession to be very important if He hasn’t bothered to keep them around… right?


So why sweat it?


Both positions are wrong. I repeat:


Both positions are perilously mistaken!


God does very much care about our mortal sins and we are not in any way off the hook for their deadly consequences just because we don’t have priests to absolve us. Meanwhile, God does indeed give us a way to cleanse ourselves of our mortal sins when priests aren’t readily available --- and even though it’s harder to accomplish.


This is where the Thorough Contritional Prayer comes in. Other prayers of contrition don’t address the specific circumstances we find ourselves in during the Great Apostasy. This one does. Other prayers of contrition don’t demand from us such a conscious act of mind & will to have perfect contrition for our mortal sins --- this one does repeatedly, and very explicitly so. As long as you understand what you’re saying when you recite it, dear reader, and as long as you freely will to mean what you’re saying as you say it, then you are, as a real Catholic, necessarily making a volitional & intelligent act of perfect contrition by doing so.




But there is more. For having no priest to confess to, it is very easy for a Catholic to become lazy & unvigilant, not diligently watching over his soul or bothering to look carefully for the sins he is guilty of. The Thorough Contritional Prayer not only requires the one praying it to make a properly specific confession of all of his sins while praying it, but compels the penitent to organize his examination of conscience into a sensible fashion according to the Ten Commandments (which are the absolute & unchanging gold standard by which sin is objectively judged to be sin) and, as well, to seek to do that which a Roman Catholic must try to do in confessing his mortal sins alone before Heaven during an emergency. Namely, to confess these mortal sins again to a lawful priest as soon as such a man is made available for him to do so.


Finally, my dear soul, bear in mind that confession of mortal sins --- whether with a priest or without a priest --- is entirely useless unless we carry out some form of adequate satisfaction & penance for these sins immediately. I cannot here explain what constitutes sufficient satisfaction & penance. That will have to come somewhere else at another time, when I’ve the strength to do so. I can, though, say that this prayer is, all by itself, a significant act of satisfaction & penance just by praying it.


We repeat:


The Thorough Contritional Prayer, when said sincerely, is weighty penance & satisfaction all by itself.


This is both because of the effort it takes to say it and because of the passion its words express in remorse for the sins confessed. For further means of satisfaction & penance seek the Holy Ghost’s guidance in the matter and the saints’ intercession, especially the aid of your guardian angel who, at your request, will sting your conscience into operation and will suggest to you what you must do in order to atone for the temporal debt of your mortal sins (as opposed to the eternal debt, which only the Divine Sacrifice of Jesus can pay). Don’t doubt that this is possible. I am living proof that it is. I have witnessed it in action within my very own life for several years now. If I can do it, so can you. But if you need more help, then let me know. You can find out how to reach me in the Contact & Donations section. I will be more than happy to help you save your precious, immortal soul.


The prayer starts below after the triple crosses and is divided into twelve sections, each section numbered in sequence.


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(1)  In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


[This first section is the Sign of the Cross. For instruction on how to perform this simple prayer, which is usually done at the beginning & end of all other prayers by Roman Catholics, please see the article on the Sign of the Cross in the Prayers & Devotions section of The Epistemologic Works website. The cross symbol, +, denotes that the one praying is to make this sign over his upper torso, or in some other suitable fashion, depending on the situation.]


(2)  Dearest Lady, Ever-Virgin Mary, I come before Thee, the Queen of Highest Heaven, and before Thy Son, King Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and before Thy Heavenly Children, the Saints, Angels, Virgins & Martyrs Above, to accuse myself of breaking the commandment against…


[Here state the commandment broken, starting at the first of the Ten Commandments that you have transgressed. Then go to section three of this prayer and follow the directions there, repeating sections two & three until you have accused yourself of all of the commandments you’ve broken and of all of their accompanying sins which you’ve committed.]


(3)  For I have most willfully and rebelliously…


[Here specify each & every sin you are guilty of under the category of a particular commandment of the Ten Commandments, either through commission or omission, including the number of times for each & every specific sin that you are guilty of, also including modifying circumstances as necessary. Repeat these brief introductions when you switch to the next commandment under consideration. E.g., “I accuse myself of breaking the commandment against stealing. For I have most willfully and rebelliously…” and state each & every specific sin perpetrated under the category of the commandment against theft; then move on when done with that commandment by saying, “I accuse myself of breaking the commandment against bearing false testimony toward my neighbor. For I have most willfully and rebelliously…” and state each & every specific sin perpetrated under the category of the commandment against lying. Continue until you have covered each commandment broken and every specific sin, by commission or omission, that you are guilty of under the category of a particular commandment broken.]


(4)  I beg Heaven’s forgiveness for these sins. And for any sin of which I am ignorant, or that I have forgotten, I also beg Heaven’s absolution. For the gifts of wisdom & memory I beg, too, that I might explicitly accuse myself of these unknown sins as I ought to within the Sacrament of Penance. For the gift of perfect contrition I beg as well, particularly for those sins that are mortal.


(5)  May I not mourn my mortal iniquities most of all because I fear the dreadful punishments of Hell (although I do fear them, for they are very dreadful); nor most of all because I am repulsed by the ugliness of Sin (although I am repulsed, for it is unspeakably ugly); but more than anything by far because I am anguished & heartbroken for having offended & injured the Triune Catholic God, Who is All-Good, All-Holy & All-Adorable. And because, by doing so, I lose the hope of seeing Him Face-to-face in the Beatific Vision in Highest Heaven forevermore in most intimate communion with Him, instead resigning myself to the Flames of Neverending Hell if, before I die, I do not make proper confession and adequate satisfaction for these sins, and if Heaven does not grant me time and mercy to cooperate with their many & copious graces, and so work out my salvation with fear & trembling, dying a good death in the state of grace. May the abominable fate of everlasting hellfire not be mine to suffer.


(6)  [For] I am most heartily sorry for my sins --- help me in my lack of sorrow! I am penitent for them --- help me in my lack of penance! I resolve to repudiate them --- help me in my lack of resolution! May rivers of water course down my face in remorse for what I have done wrong, breaking the Sacred & Suffering Heart of King Jesus, crucifying Him upon the Cross all the more; and breaking Thy Immaculate & Sorrowful Heart, Beloved Queen, driving the sword the more deeply into Thy Soul.


(7)  And I beg Thee, Dear Lady, to implore Thy Son for His Grace, Mercy & Blood, that through Thee, the Mediatrix of All His Graces, I might be cleansed and disciplined, and so regain my baptismal innocence. I beg Thee, too, Dear Lady, to implore Thy Spouse, the Holy Ghost, that He might convict my heart with utter & complete contrition for these trespasses, and that He might inspire in me utter & complete charity for the Adorable Triune Catholic God, for this One True Most High God’s doctrines & commandments, for full faith and obedience to the same, for His One & Only Roman Catholic Church, and for His holy ones and holy things. I freely confess that it is through my fault, my own fault, and my own most grievous fault alone that I have transgressed.


[During the last sentence of the paragraph above, you may strike your breast penitentially in contrition for your faults, once each time for each clause stated. For instance, “I freely confess that it is through my fault” --- strike breast --- “my own fault” --- strike breast --- “and my own most grievous fault alone” --- strike breast --- “that I have transgressed.” This is not strictly required, but is a long & pious custom amongst Catholics which, when done out of humility, obtains  much merit & mercy in God’s Sight.]


(8)  And, seeing as how I dread the loss of Heaven and fear the pains of Hell, and knowing that my God is All-Good, being the only Uncreated Creator and worthy of all of my love above and beyond everything else that exists --- which things exist solely created by Him out of nothing --- I firmly resolve, with Heaven’s help, to repudiate these iniquities, to avoid their occasions in the future, and, wherever I am able, to make amends for their spiritual debts. May Heaven do everything possible in helping me to keep these resolutions, especially in avoiding future occasions of sin.


(9)  And may Heaven do everything permissible, I plead, in helping me to stay upon the Narrow Path to Eternal Life, deviating neither to the left nor to the right, but always and ever believing and obeying everything that God through His One & Only Roman Catholic Church teaches and commands, neither more nor less; in which alone may a man escape from the Fire of Hell and enter into the Glory of Heaven; and through which alone may such a man, who has adequate use of reason, via full faith & obedience unblemished to this same Church, have any real hope of attaining to the Gift of Everlasting Salvation.


[Here make additional requests if you wish.]


(10) I petition these things in the Name of Thy Precious Son, King Jesus Christ of Nazareth; and in Thy Name, Dear Lady, Queen Mary the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God.


[Here you may add other names, such as your guardian angel, your baptismal name’s sake, or saints, angels, virgins & martyrs to whom you have a strong devotion. For example: “And in the names of Ss. Cecilia, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Alexandria, Dominic the Preacher & Marianna de Jesus Torres of Our Lady of Good Success.” You may add nothing or as much as you like, as inspiration or personal custom might dictate.]


(11) I do also intend to confess again any mortal sin, of which I have already accused myself privately, to a lawful & valid priest as soon as such a man is made available to me. May Thy Heel, O Heavenly Queen, crush the Serpent’s Head and so bring the horrors of the Great Apostasy to an end. And may Thy Son, Jesus Christ, be exalted as King above all other kings and Lord above all other lords, and may the Triune God of the Catholic Church reign everywhere acknowledged as the Only True Creator of all that exists, the Heavenly Father having commanded His children, Roman Catholics, to worship in no other religion than that of the Catholic Faith. Amen.


(12) In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.




This is not the only contritional prayer a Catholic may use. Others exist, some of long & venerable lineage. This is merely one of the most thorough. During the Great Apostasy, when licit (lawful) priests are practically impossible to find and the Sacrament of Penance not able to be received in a normal fashion, the Catholic who prays this prayer thus pleads for the very thing needed in order to have his mortal sins remitted --- perfect contrition allied with an intent to confess to a licit priest once such a man is available. Please see Session 14 of the Council of Trent, “Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance”, Chapter 4, for the infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in this matter.


Whatever prayer of contrition employed, a Catholic should use it at least once a week. Any longer and he risks forgetting sins. Should you fall into mortal sin, then don’t wait an entire week. Confess right away. On the other hand, should you bear venial sin only but desire to confess more often --- say, twice a week or even daily --- then a shorter form is adequate. E.g., one might pray sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 & 12. You will note their bold type to make them stand out for use in just such an abbreviated form. Retain the more thorough form for occasions of mortal sin or a weekly ritual.


We value immaculate cleanliness of the flesh. How little thought the Catholic takes for exquisite cleanliness of his soul! Cleansing from mortal sin is like a laborious bath to wash our bodies. Cleansing from venial sin is like rinsing off the dust from one’s feet. Which of us would walk into town, our sandaled feet besmirched by even minor grime? Yet we think nothing of walking on earth under the Sight of Heaven covered in veniality. Our Lord Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Out of humility Pope St. Peter objected, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Whereupon Jesus answered him, “If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.” So Peter says, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” And Jesus responds, “He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly.” (John 13:8-10 DRC) Dear brothers, let us be clean wholly.


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