Catholics have the option of confessing their sins to a priest behind a screen or face-to-face.
Catholics have the option of confessing their sins to a priest behind a screen or face-to-face.

Saying an Act of Contrition prayer is an important part of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also known as confession, in the Catholic faith. The sacrament, which is a yearly requirement, provides an opportunity for Catholics to confess their sins to a priest and obtain God's forgiveness.

Different Versions

There are different versions of the Act of Contrition; however, all of them include the expression of sorrow, the acknowledgment of wrongdoing and the promise to make amends.

Role in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

Saying an Act of Contrition takes place near the end of the sacrament. Beforehand, the penitent confesses his sins, and the priest proposes some form of penance, such as praying or doing an act of charity. After the Act of Contrition, the priest will declare that the penitent's sins are forgiven, praise the mercy of God and conclude the sacrament.