Atoning for our sins?

i’ve often heard cahtolics say that offering things to God can atone for our sins or for the sins of others.

didn’t Jesus already do that though?

or is it more in the context of joining our offering to his?


Jesus REDEEMED us. It is our responsibility to atone for OUR sins.

Here is a way to look at Atonement:

Let’s say you were in college and your roommate had just finished a very long term paper on the computer. Now you use the same computer and inadvertently delete the entire term paper. You are mortified. you feel terrible, You admit the error to your roommate and beg forgiveness. He/she forgives you and you feel so relieved that you go out to a movie while your roommate stays home all night reconstructing the term paper.

Not good…

Atonement, as well as decency, would require you to, at least, help your roommate reconstruct the term paper.

isn’t atonement and redemption the same thing essentially? reconnecting us with God? the example you gave is more like restitution. i don’t know, i could be wrong. this is why i’m asking

Hi, let me just state that I am new to the forum and am not a Catholic. I would just like to state I believe you have already answered your own question. There is no other need for any other atonement to be made. Jesus did it all. Someone correct me if I am wrong.:slight_smile:

My example is probably more like restitution. But I think they are very much alike.
Essentially, one is “making up for a wrong”.

Catholics believe otherwise.

here you go. has other outside links to follow to if you like.:thumbsup:

We believe in something called penance. We confess the sin, we ask for forgiveness, and yes, depending on the sin we try to make good on this, and avoid doing it again. Making good on it, or doing penance might be as little as an apology and prayers, or it might be helping the person you sinned against, and if not possible, helping someone else who has suffered from the same sin.

We just don’t believe you can go out every week committing the same sins over and over again and then suddenly show up at church, pray, and walk away… yes Ill say it… “scott free.”
To us, if you really repent, if you are really sorrowful for your sin, you would WANT to right the wrongs done to others, or to God. This is one of many striking differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Actually I can’t speak for all protestants, but I would say we have more in common with Catholics than most Catholics probably believe to be otherwise. I believe if you do somebody wrong or sin against them you should apologize and also ask forgiveness of God in prayer. Protestants don’t believe we can just do whatever and go scott free as you say. At least I can say I don’t believe that. Any sin we perpetrate we should ask God to forgive us of and try our best to not do it again.

I suggest that you look up both words in a dictionary. One atones to make up for ones sins, sort of like apologizing to Gd. One is redeemed by Gd after we atone for our sins.
Simply put: Redemption (being saved_ = being forgiven.

I suggest that you look up both words in a dictionary. One atones to make up for ones transgressions; sort of like apologizing to Gd. One is redeemed by Gd after we atone for our sins.
Simply put: Redemption (being saved) = being forgiven.

To many, perhaps, but not all of “us”. I got one would not be this condescending.:shrug:

water quenches a flaming fire,
and alms atone for sins.
he who does a kindness is remembered afterward;
when he falls, he finds a support.
—sirach3 v 29 - 30.

I am not sure what you are trying to say.

Hi angell1. I will try to be brief but I’m not banking on it working.
The first thing to understand is what the nature and effect of sin is in the first place. It has a dual effect; it damages our relationship with God and also the Body of which Christ is the head. JPII tells us “There is no such thing as a private sin.” We can ask for and receive forgiveness but there is still a temporal effect for our sin.

You and I are made part of the Body of Christ through baptism. We are charged with building up the Body, but occasionally our sins serves to tear it down. When I sin, it hurts the Body of Christ, of which He is the Head and you are a part. My penance (prayers, supplications, etc) can help to repair the damage through the merits of Christ’s sacrifice. This is not something we can do of our own without Christ, but only through Him.

As an analogy, even on earth, If I drive drunk and accidentally kill someone, I can beg the court’s forgiveness and the family who suffered the loss and may receive it. However, there is still loss for this family, there is still lasting guilt for my action. No amount of work from me can repair the damage. But when united with Christ’s suffering, I can ask Him to ease mine and bring solace and peace to those I hurt.

Hope that helps and if I’ve poorly represented a point, I welcome correction.


I have a question does how well you do penance affect the forgiveness you receive in Confession from the Priest. For example if I’m told to do 7 acts of charity and I only do 4 does that affect the forgiveness of the eternal punishment or does it only affect the temporal ?

Matt Holt

Hi Matt. I just saw your location, I’m from Allegan; kinda cool.

Willingness and zeal for penance and contrition both deal with your own inner disposition. I always think of Psalm 51 and think how well David understood it.

He says:

  1. a burnt offering, you will not accept
  2. a contrite heart is what you want
  3. Then a burnt offering, you will accept

So approaching the confessional without contrition and “trying to con the priest” or at least going through the motions, so to speak, is really a sacrilege. Sloth or refusal to finish (disobedience) even a basic beginning form of penance is another sin beyond what you left the confessional for. Does that help?

Hi sousley,

Your from allegan that is kinda cool ! and from what I understand you saying is that someone who does not take penance serious in the first place is probably not sorry for their sins. That sort of answers my question I guess perhaps my real problem is its hard for me to understand you have to do other things after you confess your sins.

As an evangelical I’m told all I have to is be sorry for my sin and ask for forgiveness from God. Evangelicals do say you should try to apologize to someone if you hurt them but its not nesscesary for salvation. I admit this method has problems with those who abuse it or those in bondage to addictions who may need to talk to someone get help in other ways other than just feeling sorry and confessing their sin to be freed. I guess it comes down to what is the correct method of repentance ?

Matt Holt

I know what you mean, but I think it is encouraging that your pastor makes a point of bringing the idea that the community can be hurt by our sins. Too often, I hear the “just between me and God” philosophy which I think tends to alienate us from feeling any responsibility toward our community.

I guess I think that first and foremost, God is intimately present with His creation and that His patterns of paternal judgement are seen in a somewhat less spectacular way by us everyday. As far as penance goes, or penalty, or penitentiary, or repent (as you offered), we see everyday applications as a shadow of God. If we commit a crime, the judge sends us to the penitentiary until we’ve “paid the last farthing” and can rejoin the community again. If our own children stay out past curfew, we give them a penalty by grounding or some other thing. These are all forms of discipline to keep us on the right path. In the same way, God is the Almighty Judge and Heavenly Father, and as a loving God, is worthy to demand penance from us for our failures. If I am unwilling, it would be as my child rebelling against me when I try to ground him.

When I think of the OT, and consistent actions of repentance there (like sackcloth and ashes, renting garments, presenting their livestock to the priest to be offered as a sin offering to God, etc) there was clearly a great effort to make atonement. I realize that the New Covenant brought changes, but I feel that it is too much of a departure to say that now all I have to do is go to my room and tell God, “I’m sorry for my sins” and that’s it. I don’t mean to sound as though I’m over-simplifying; I’m sure that folks are more pious than how I’m making it sound. But also I think it lends this idea that God is very much distanced from us; that somehow He is “up there” and I’m “down here” living my life. It becomes difficult then for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven when we picture Him so far away. So asking God to use us as instruments of prayer, alms-giving, and all penitentiary acts allows us to be vehicles of His will and witnesses of faith here on earth.

So there ya go. Two cents worth from the guy hiding in the back pew! :o

What your saying makes sense and I’m certainly going to ponder what you have said. Also I agree that there has to be more to “repentance” than go in my room tell God I’m sorry for my sins. One thing as evangelical I have always wrestled with how do I know God forgave me for what I have done. Anyway thanks for your help I’m still not sure if going to become catholic but I’m closer than I was :slight_smile:

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