If you are "contrite," you are genuinely sorry for something bad you have done. You might, for example, offer "a contrite apology." In the Catholic Church, contrition has a similar meaning. It is an important concept for Catholics, especially when seeking absolution, which is forgiveness, for sins.

The Act of Contrition

The Catholic definition of contrition is showing sorrow for your sins. The church teaches that genuine contrition is not superficial, but something you feel in your heart and soul. At the end of confession, when Catholics confess sins to their priest, they make an Act of Contrition to show that they detest their sins, are sorry for them and vow never to sin again. The Act of Contrition is a prayer expressing these ideas. Once the person has said this prayer, the priest can then bless them and give them absolution for their sins.