Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Saint Maximilian Kolbe wrote a letter to his followers.
The purpose of this letter was to exhort his disciples to prepare themselves for the approaching feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8.
But it also showed them how to receive forgiveness for sin in the coming war, where priests were scarce and it was hard to receive sacramental confession.
"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance. Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."
This is a magnificent formula and lesson on how to make an act of perfect contrition.
As most people know, there are two types of contrition:
- perfect: out of love of God;
- imperfect: out of fear of Hell.
Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione). (The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Contrition")