Catholic writers generally treat it as typifying contrition, the preaching of the Gospel, the prayers of the faithful and the virtues of the saints.
It is common to go to confession, even though there are only venial sins to be confessed; and in order to excite contrition people are sometimes advised to confess over again some mortal sin from which they have been previously absolved.
As this was sometimes effected by means of the reserved sacrament without any formal reconciliation, even without the presence of bishop or priest, it affords further evidence of the emphasis being laid on contrition and submission to discipline rather than on absolution.
The fast was a suitable concomitant of that contrition which befitted the occasion.
Froissart relates that he was burned to death through his bedclothes catching fire; Secousse says that he died in peace with many signs of contrition; another story says he died of leprosy; and a popular legend tells how he expired by a divine judgment through the burning of the clothes steeped in sulphur and spirits in which he had been wrapped as a cure for a loathsome disease caused by his debauchery.
He points out the equivocal character of the word poenitentia, which meant both " penance " and " penitence "; he declared that " true contrition seeks punishment, while the ampleness of pardons relaxes it and causes men to hate it."
Not one of the conspirators, even when all hope of saving life was gone, made any accusation against Salisbury or the government and all died expressing contrition for their crime.
Treating this rule as axiomatic the Schoolmen elaborated their analyses of the sacrament of penance, distinguishing form and matter, attrition and contrition, mortal and venial sins.
This formal and regulated " penitence " was extended from apostasy to other grave - or, as they were subsequently called, " deadly " - sins; while for minor offences all Christians were called upon to express contrition by fasting and abstinence from ordinarily permitted pleasures, as well as verbally in public and private devotions.
By his bold and thorough-going opposition to this mode of procedure against Ladislaus, and still more by his doctrine that indulgence could never be sold without simony, and could not be lawfully granted by the church except on condition of genuine contrition and repentance, Huss at last isolated himself, not only from the archiepiscopal party under Albik of Unitschow, but also from the theological faculty of the university, and especially from such men as Stanislaus of Znaim and Stephen Paletz, who until then had been his chief supporters.
Water with immersion in the case of baptism; bread and wine in the Eucharist; anointing and laying on of hands in confirmation; contrition in the sacrament of penance.