As distinct from contrition, is an imperfect sorrow for sin. Contrition is that sorrow for sin which has for its motive the love of God whom the sinner has offended. Attrition arises from a motive which is indeed supernatural, that is to say, apprehended by faith but which still falls short of contrition. Such motives are the fear of hell, the loss of heaven, the turpitude of sin. By this last, we understand the turpitude of sin as revealed by faith. We may also, for the sake of clearness, exclude from our definition that kind of sorrow which makes a man renounce sin because he is afraid of hell, while at the same time he would be ready to offend God if he could do so without incurring the penalty.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “attrition”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 November 2019. Web. 5 March 2021. <>