“Seeds of Grace” Contrition

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Christian understanding of contrition (from the Latin contritus, “ground to pieces”), refers to repentance for sins one has committed. The remorseful person, the penitent,  is said to be contrite.  Synonyms include sorrowfulness, regret,  ruefulness, pangs of conscience and perhaps doses of guilt, shame and distress.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 

Perfect contrition (also called contrition of charity), is repentance for sin that is motivated by faith and the love of God. It is the first step towards reconciliation.  In the best case scenarios it leads to repentance, confession, forgiveness and the commitment to refrain from that sin in the future.  Ultimately it results in a renewed gratitude that Christ died for you! Alfred Garnett Mortimer, an Anglican clergyman(British born, 1848), pointed out that “feelings” are not an adequate gauge of contrition. The signs of true contrition are a readiness to confess, a readiness to amend one’s life and avoid temptation, and a readiness to forgive those others.

Experiencing contrition is like knowing that the dawn is breaking but hesitating, or in fact, turning away, out of fear about what the journey might entail to appreciate it completely. Is this a journey you need to take?

For Further Reflection: Isaiah 57:14-15