A PERFECT ACT OF CONTRITION
Without a doubt, the act of perfect contrition is more difficult than the act of imperfect contrition required for confession.
However, there is no one who, with God's grace, cannot obtain perfect contrition, provided he desires it sincerely. Contrition is in the will and not in the sentiment, though even without tears its intensity should have some proportion to the sin or sins we have committed.
Moreover, and this is a very proper consideration to give us encouragement, before the time of our Lord, in the ancient law perfect contrition was, for 4,000 years, the only means of obtaining forgiveness of sins.
Again, in our times, there exists no other form of forgiveness for thousands of pagans and heretics. Now, it is true that God does not wish the death of the sinner; He cannot wish to impose a perfect contrition impossible to attain. Contrition must, on the contrary, be within the range of all men.
Well, then, if so many unfortunates who live and die can obtain this perfect contrition far from (though through no fault of their own) the stream of grace and the Catholic Church, is perfect contrition so difficult for you who have the good fortune of being Christian and Catholic, who are the object of much greater graces and who are better taught than these poor infidels?
I will go further. Often, without your suspecting it, you have perfect contrition. For instance, when you devoutly hear holy Mass, when you make with fervor the Stations of the Cross, when you meditate with devotion in front of an image of Jesus crucified or of His divine Heart.
Some words often suffice to express the most ardent love and the sincerest contrition. Some of these are, for example, the ejaculatory prayers: "My God and my all"; "My Jesus, mercy"; "My God, I love Thee above all things"; "My God, have pity upon me, a poor sinner"; "My Jesus, I love Thee."
FATHER AUGUSTINE LEHMKUHL, S. J.