Monday, May 18, 2015

I will not sin again ..

When I was a youngster I was taught the Act of Contrition first by the Sisters of St Joseph and later by the Marist Brothers. It ran:

Oh, my God,
I am very sorry that I have sinned against you
because you are so good and,
with your help,
I will not sin again.

Those children, and often adults, who still remember how to make an Act of Contrition now seem to say:

and, with your help,
I will try not to sin again.

I confess this really annoys me big time. What people seem to have forgotten is that when we say 'I will not sin again' we are stating our intentions. In other words, I intend not to sin again. We have to do here with a present intention - not future behaviour.

Can you imagine the loving couple at the altar exchanging vows: 'I, Betty, take you, John. I will try to love you and I will try to honour you for the rest of my life?'

Or the witness in the court trial: 'I promise to try to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?'

When it comes to stating intentions we are not foretelling future behaviour and we should not reduce the fullness of our intention not to sin again to the possibility that, one day in the future, we may sin again.


  1. I can see where you are coming from. The word "try" does weekend - at leat psychologically - the resolve of an individual to commit him or herself to anything. It's like suporting the weight of some great structure with a shaky beam or upright. An eventual callapse is inevitable.

  2. This is what I was taught:

    “O My God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee my God who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.”

    "Firmly reslove" is way stronger than "I will try."

  3. The way I was taught the Act of Contrition was similar to Adrienne's version, but the ending is a bit different:

    "I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen."

  4. Oh my, this is simply AWESOME!!! What boldness! And this is the way it should be.

    Thank you, Fr. John. By the way, I got your site from Therese's blog.

    God bless you abundantly!

  5. Hi Father,

    I have to admit I sometimes use the word "to try" and I have never thought about it this way. Thanks for the post, I will *try* to avoid it next time. :-)