Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Will not sin or Will try not to sin...

I will not sin again

I will try not to sin again

When saying the act of contrition during Confession, I use the simple act of contrition which I was taught many years ago in preparation for 1st Confession:

O my God, because You are so good, I am heartily sorry that I have sinned against You and with the help of Your grace, I will not sin again.

I have always understood that the last words of this prayer,  I will not sin again, show my intention at the moment of confession, to reject sin. At this precise, holy moment, it is my will that I do not commit any further sins.
Some years ago when I was saying this act of contrition at confession, the priest corrected me saying that as I would commit sins in the future, it would be better to substitute I will try not to sin again for the original words I will not sin again. This substitution would better reflect that owing to  my fallen nature as a sinner, the likelihood is that that I will commit sins in the future.

I have found it difficult to go with this correction:  'try not to' seems a weaker intention than 'will not',  and, to receive absolution , the penitent needs to express a firm intention (at the point of confession) to avoid sin (in the future), doesn't he?
In saying will not, the penitent fully intends at the present moment, not to fall into future sin, even though he realises that he may eventually succumb to temptation......in which case he would seek the Sacrament of Confession at the earliest opportunity, and having confessed, make an act of contrition, in which he would restate his intention not to sin again.


  1. Perhaps the priest had a point, however, I agree with you. The point is that having formed your intention there is merely the likelihood of your sinning again. Since, however, none of us knows the day or the hour- or even the split second- at which God will call us to Himself it is entirely possible that this could happen within seconds of you completing the act of contrition and therefore not even having the "opportunity" of sinning again!

  2. Thanks Patricius,
    That none of us knows the day or the hour of our death would also underline the importance of habitual, regular confession, wouldn't it?

    I suppose 'try not to sin again' could also mean 'I will avoid known occasions of sin' but that wouldn't cover those surprise attacks when the evil thought/deed is presented to us withought warning.Hopefully we would recognise the evil and repel it remembering that we undertook to 'not sin again'.