Help from Chinese readers? Act of Contrition.

From a Chinese reader who asks for help:

I am a Chinese Catholic and many of our prayers are translations from some original Latin edition.

One of the most beautiful is the traditional Act of Contrition which is still commonly used in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down the original. [In Chinese?] I wonder if you or anyone you know might be able to help me track down the original. (I have already done a fair amount of Googling but perhaps just have not hit on the right Latin phrase)

It is more scarily forceful than most modern Acts of Contritions I have seen. Bizarrely, it is this total reckless commitment which my three young sons (the oldest has just had his First Confession) find appealing.

Here is a loose translation from quite formal Chinese into English:

“My Lord Jesus the Christ, the God who made me, raised me and saved me, I am a grievous sinner who has offended God. Now out of my love for God over all of creation, out of a sincere and profound repentance, and detesting my sins, I resolve to amend my ways, so that even in the face of death I will not dare to violate my God’s commandments. I beseech my Lord, in remembrance of the merits of Your passion, have mercy and forgive my sins.”

Strong stuff!

It is a little unclear to me precisely what he wants. Maybe you can chime in and create clarity.

Also, keep in mind that you cannot cut/paste Chinese, or other special charaters of many languages, into my combox without losing the characters. They turn into ?????????.   You have to convert the special characters to to HTML.  I use this converter HERE

In the meantime, here is the English of the Act of Contrition which I favor, I recommend, I propose, I endorse:

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. Amen.

This is pretty much a rendering of the Latin:

Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum. Amen.

That said… everyone… examine your consciences and…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    The Act of Contrition you favor is the one I was taught around 1957. I still use it, and no priest has ever objected to it.

  2. MikeM221 says:

    When I made my First Confession and Holy Communion in 1962, the Act of Contrition that I was taught is slightly different:
    O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishment, 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 sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I would look for the Chinese edition of the “Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”. It is NOT on the Vatican website, but all editions have an appendix with some Latin prayers and the vernacular translation, including the Act of Contrition.

  4. Mike says:

    The Act of Contrition that MikeM221 learned in 1962, which is also the one I was taught as I prepared to receive the Sacraments in 1970, seems to hew more closely to the Latin, does it not?

    In any event, the words “with the help of Thy Grace,” which appear in both of the familiar versions, are the ones that get me from one Confession to the next. The “near occasions of sin” being particularly insidious for me, the version of the prayer containing those words is the one I’ve been favoring of late.

  5. Do people ever say their Act of Contrition in Latin? Especially if the priest is praying in Latin?

  6. Speaking of Chinese, I have been trying on and off for months to find a Mandarin-Latin traditional missal, and a place where I can buy the Studium Biblicum Mandarin translation of the Bible. Brutally hard. This is one of those few times where the internet cannot help me find what I’m looking for.
    I emailed Cardinal Zen asking if there are Mandarin-Latin missals for the traditional Mass, and he directed me to the email address of a religious priest in the Hong Kong Latin Mass group, but no word from him yet.

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    I learned the same Act of Contrition that Father noted and that MikeM221 and Mike also learned. But I had the misfortune of receiving the Sacraments of (First) Confession and (First) Holy Communion during a period of a strange few years in the diocese. In those few years, children like me received our First Holy Communion BEFORE we received the Sacrament of Confession. Oh, and my poor mother nearly died of shock when I came home and announced to her that the pastor said girls could wear a pink First Communion dress, which he did. Even though I wasn’t the only girl in pink, my mother complied with the pastor’s request, but she was so embarrassed that she made me wear a long blazer over my dress to hide it. This was in 1977. It was merciful of the Lord not to have given up on me right then and there!

    Sorry for the digression. I really only wanted to post to thank Fr. Z. for posting the Latin translation of my favorite Act of Contrition; the one that I still use. The first time I recited it after confession to our (then, 4 years ago) new, 30-something pastor, he reached down beside his chair and pulled out a cheat-sheet to see if the particular Act of Contrition I was saying was on his list of OK versions to use!

  8. OrthodoxChick says:

    For the reader/OP, I still haven’t found a chinese translation of the Act of Contrition that he/she wrote to Fr. Z. about, but this page has the prayers of the rosary in Chinese. This link is to a mission in Chinatown. Perhaps the reader might contact the mission by phone/email and maybe someone there might be able to help?

  9. Lutgardis says:

    The parish where we go to make our confessions has the version of the Act of Contrition that MikeM221 quotes above helpfully taped to our side of the screen in the confessional. We wanted to find a parish that took the sacrament seriously (our home parish has some unique views about what constitutes a valid sacrament of reconciliation), and this version is also my favorite one so I was delighted to see it posted so prominently.

  10. wmeyer says:

    My wife is Chinese, and she rendered the Chinese translation of the Rosary for a friend who wrote an app. It was not so easy as it sounds, and while there are numerous sites which claim to present it, there are many variations.

    First problem is the reader did not specify Mandarin or Taiwanese. The only Mandarin Catholic Bible I am aware of is in traditional Mandarin, not simplified. The difference matters. I do not know whether there is a Mandarin Missal, but I will e-mail the local Chinese priest, to see whether he can point me in a useful direction.

    I shall ask my wife whether she can possibly translate the Act of Contrition, Fr. Z, but she just returned from Urumqi, PRC, on Saturday night, and is still recovering from 12 hour jet lag, so it may be a few days before she is up to any additional activity.

  11. wmeyer says:

    I have received from the priest I mentioned the Act of Contrition, in Traditional Chinese characters:
    我的天主 , 我的慈父 , 我犯罪得罪了你 , 很覺慚愧 , 也真心痛悔˙因為我辜負了你的慈愛 , 妄用了你的恩寵˙我今定志 , 寧死再不得罪你 , 並盡力躲避犯罪的機會 , 我的天主 , 求你垂憐我 , 寬赦我˙ 阿們˙

    He also tells me that there is a Missal in Traditional characters Mandarin, but it is not available online, and can be bought only in Taiwan or Hong Kong, to his knowledge.

  12. sisu says:

    Reading the request it seems clear he is seeking the original Latin form of the this prayer –
    he says the Chinese version is from “some original Latin edition”, and that he hasn’t “been able able to track down the original.”
    He is looking for the original Latin source of this prayer, and has been attempting to search the web for unique phrases from this prayer using his own attempt at back-translating into Latin, trying to run into the original Latin form of the prayer.

  13. tcreek says:

    In 1942, Sister Sylvia an Ursuline nun in Louisville, taught her 2nd grade students to memorize the act of contrition. That was before our First Communion and, word for word, the one Fr. Z recommends. It is burned into my inner life, impossible to forget. As are many other Catholic prayers.

  14. Marchelli says:

    Interesting to know that the Act of Contrition I grew up learning in the 90’s in a Novus Ordo Parish is the one Fr. Z posted!

  15. eulogos says:

    I learned the end as “to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” Isn’t that closer to what the Latin says?
    Susan Peterson

  16. Charles E Flynn says:

    The edition of the Baltimore Catechism that was published in 1891 contains exactly the Act of Contrition in question:

    (Search on page for the word “detest”, which appears on page 86 of 303 of the pdf.)

    It might be helpful if someone who knows Chinese could see if the Baltimore Catechism was ever translated from English to Chinese.

  17. majuscule says:


    That’s the version I learned around 1954. Before going to my first confession in many years I did some research and I was surprised to find there were different versions. But I used the one I knew.

    I do like the one Fr. Z favores though. It seems like it rolls off the tongue a little easier.

  18. joan ellen says:

    I love this post Fr. Z. The topic and the Act of Contrition you prefer is the one I use. I also love the image at the top…the priest in persona Christi…giving Absolution…and Jesus Himself behind him.
    I have just recently, in the last day or so, realized that in my list of The Greatest Life Elements The Greatest Power is Absolution.
    I appreciate the Chinese Characters from Mr. Meyer. I’m eager to see the English words for them.

  19. Lin says:

    That was the version I was taught by the nuns in full habit in 1957. We were so blessed to have the nuns to teach us our catechism. Our parish had its own convent and school until the 1990’s and I live in a town of less than 2000 people! After Vatican II, the nuns dressed in street clothes, the convent closed, and later the school. Most Catholics under 60 are not very well catechized! Much prayer and fasting is required!

  20. gertrude says:

    From a leaflet from Blessed Sacrament Pamphlet

    Act of Contrition
    Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins; the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul, the sins of my body, my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins, the sins I know and the sins I do not know; the sins I have conceled so long, and which are now hidden from my memory.

    I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial, for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.

    I know my sins have wounded Thy Tender Heart, O my Savior, let me be freed from the bonds of evil, through the most bitter passion of my Redeemer. Amen.

    O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been, Amen.

  21. gertrude says:

    I like this one I posted, but actually have Father Z’s memorized and use it at night when I lay my head on my pillow.

  22. MikeM221 says:

    Thank you for sharing the Act of Contrition from Blessed Sacrament Pamphlet, Gertrude. While I may not use it in Confession, it certainly is a beautiful prayer to recite.

  23. revueltos67 says:

    Hmm… I wonder what would happen if I memorized the Latin Act of Contrition then said it at my next confession? :-)

  24. Bob B. says:

    ????, ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???

    This is a little different than wmeyer’s. above.

  25. Bob B. says:

    天主耶穌, 基利斯督。我重罪人,得罪於天主,今為畏天主,尤為愛天主萬有之上,一心痛悔我之罪过。定心再不敢得罪於天主。望天主赦我之罪。 亞孟。

    This makes more sense.

  26. robtbrown says:

    my soul waits for you alone says:

    Do people ever say their Act of Contrition in Latin? Especially if the priest is praying in Latin?

    I’ve done it in Latin for years. Only twice has a priest mentioned it–both comments were positive.

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