Roman Catholics show regret for their sins by reciting a prayer called the Act of Contrition either before or after they make a sacramental confession. The prayer may be spoken at any time. There is no one correct formula, although there are a number of common interpretations that are employed today in English.
The definition of contrition offered by the Council of Trent is as follows: “a grief of soul and loathing of the sin committed, with the solid resolve of avoiding sinning in the future.” The Catholic Church makes a distinction between two types of contrition: perfect contrition, in which the sinner feels sad for offending God, and imperfect contrition, in which the sinner is just terrified of going to hell. The offender must demonstrate contrition in order to obtain absolution via the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This contrition might be complete or incomplete.