Contrition Requires a Firm Purpose of Amendment

This post fills a gaping hole in my previous attempts to characterize contrition. By “contrition,” I always mean “ perfect contrition .” Perfect contrition is sorrow for offending the source of morality over and above any sorrow about the consequences of the misdeed for which one is to have perfect contrition.

In my post Loving God is Loving What God Loves I characterized perfect contrition as a tripartite sorrow:

1. Sorrow over the basic human good set aside by the violation
2. Sorrow over the impediment to virtue produced by the violation
3. Sorrow over the requirement that harm be done

exacerbated by shame that those conditions for which we feel sorrow are known by the author of morality who wills only good for us.

I illustrated these conditions with an example of a married man feeling profoundly dissatisfied with himself over having, yet again, masturbated stimulated by internet porn. His condition could hardly be called contrition if in the back of his mind he resigned himself to continuing to act this way.

A firm purpose of amendment is extremely hard to characterize, as all of us who have tried to break a bad habit realize. It is so easy to fool ourselves that we have made a resolution “this is the last time.”

There needs to be some action plan to stop the offense in question. Those of us who are religious may realize that we need to ask God’s help to amend our lives.

An illustration of having an action plan for amending a married man’s life who masturbates to internet porn is provided by “That Man is You” TMIY. It is specifically for Catholic men. But a serious action plan needs to “get down to specifics.”

1.Go to confession immediately after failing.
2 Turn of media … only watch good media.
3. Get electronic software to help e.g. Covenant Eyes.
4. Go to bed together with spouse.
5. End each day with your spouse for 15 minutes.
5. Enriched environment .. friendship with other men.
6. Participate in an ascetical program, e.g. Exodus 90
7. Seek professional help.

This is from lesson 7 of TMIY’s lesson series “The Light of Men.”