Q. 753. What is contrition, or sorrow for sin?
A. Contrition, or sorrow for sin, is a hatred of sin and a true grief of the soul for having offended God, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.
Q. 754. Give an example of how we should hate and avoid sin.
A. We should hate and avoid sin as one hates and avoids a poison that almost caused his death. We may not grieve over the death of our soul as we do over the death of a friend, and yet our sorrow may be true; because the sorrow for sin comes more from our reason than from our feelings.
Q. 755. What kind of sorrow should we have for our sins?
A. The sorrow we should have for our sins should be interior, supernatural, universal, and sovereign.
Q. 756. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be interior?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be interior, I mean that it should come from the heart, and not merely from the lips.
Q. 757. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be supernatural?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be supernatural, I mean that it should be prompted by the grace of God, and excited by motives which spring from faith, and not by merely natural motives.
Q. 758. What do we mean by "motives that spring from faith" and by "merely natural motives" with regard to sorrow for sin?
A. By sorrow for sin from "motives that spring from faith," we mean sorrow for reasons that God has made known to us, such as the loss of heaven, the fear of hell or purgatory, or the dread of afflictions that come from God in punishment for sin. By "merely natural motives" we mean sorrow for reasons made known to us by our own experience or by the experience of others, such as loss of character, goods or health. A motive is whatever moves our will to do or avoid anything.
Q. 759. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be universal?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be universal, I mean that we should be sorry for all our mortal sins without exception.
Q. 760. Why cannot some of our mortal sins be forgiven while the rest remain on our souls?
A. It is impossible for any of our mortal sins to be forgiven unless they are all forgiven, because as light and darkness cannot be together in the same place, so sanctifying grace and mortal sin cannot dwell together. If there be grace in the soul, there can be no mortal sin, and if there be mortal sin, there can be no grace, for one mortal sin expels all grace.
Q. 761. What do you mean when you say that our sorrow should be sovereign?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be sovereign, I mean that we should grieve more for having offended God than for any other evil that can befall us.
Q. 762. Why should we be sorry for our sins?
A. We should be sorry for our sins because sin is the greatest of evils and an offense against God our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, and because it shuts us out of heaven and condemns us to the eternal pains of hell.
Q. 763. How do we show that sin is the greatest of all evils?
A. We show that sin is the greatest of evils because its effects last the longest and have the most terrible consequences. All the misfortunes of this world can last only for a time, and we escape them at death, whereas the evils caused by sin keep with us for all eternity and are only increased at death.
Q. 764. How many kinds of contrition are there?
A. There are two kinds of contrition; perfect contrition and imperfect contrition.
Q. 765. What is perfect contrition?
A. Perfect contrition is that which fills us with sorrow and hatred for sin, because it offends God, who is infinitely good in Himself and worthy of all love.
Q. 766. When will perfect contrition obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance?
A. Perfect contrition will obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance when we cannot go to confession, but with the perfect contrition we must have the intention of going to confession as soon as possible, if we again have the opportunity.
Q. 767. What is imperfect contrition?
A. Imperfect contrition is that by which we hate what offends God because by it we lose heaven and deserve hell; or because sin is so hateful in itself.
Q. 768. What other name is given to imperfect contrition and why is it called imperfect?
A. Imperfect contrition is called attrition. It is called imperfect only because it is less perfect than the highest grade of contrition by which we are sorry for sin out of pure love of God's own goodness and without any consideration of what befalls ourselves.
Q. 769. Is imperfect contrition sufficient for a worthy confession?
A. Imperfect contrition is sufficient for a worthy confession, but we should endeavor to have perfect contrition.
Q. 770. What do you mean by a firm purpose of sinning no more?
A. By a firm purpose of sinning no more I mean a fixed resolve not only to avoid all mortal sin, but also its near occasions.
Q. 771. What do you mean by the near occasions of sin?
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
Q. 772. Why are we bound to avoid occasions of sin?
A. We are bound to avoid occasions of sin because Our Lord has said: "He who loves the danger will perish in it"; and as we are bound to avoid the loss of our souls, so we are bound to avoid the danger of their loss. The occasion is the cause of sin, and you cannot take away the evil without removing its cause.
Q. 773. Is a person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, rightly disposed for confession?
A. A person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, is not rightly disposed for confession, and he will not be absolved if he makes known to the priest the true state of his conscience.
Q. 774. How many kinds of occasions of sin are there?
A. There are four kinds of occasions of sin:
Q. 775. What persons, places and things are usually occasions of sin?
- The persons who are occasions of sin are all those in whose company we sin, whether they be bad of themselves or bad only while in our company, in which case we also become occasions of sin for them;
- The places are usually liquor saloons, low theaters, indecent dances, entertainments, amusements, exhibitions, and all immoral resorts of any kind, whether we sin in them or not;
- The things are all bad books, indecent pictures, songs, jokes and the like, even when they are tolerated by public opinion and found in public places.