After 50+ years of going to Confession I was just told that your sins were immediately forgiven after the Priest gives absolution. I had always thought you had to finish your penance first. Which is correct?



Your sins are forgiven when you receive absolution. It is not conditional. You are morally bound to do your penance, but failure to do it does not affect the absolution already granted. (Though if deliberate, it should be confessed in the next confession.) And most penances do not have a “complete by” date!


Of course if you say “nope I am not going to do that penance” when he gives it --that is a problem.

But yes absolution “absolves” the sins right there and then.


This question is asked from time to time, and the above answers are the standard (and correct) response.

There is nothing to add, really, :), but if you want the same answer from a priest, you can get it here, from Fr Z.


Now, I once heard that our sins are forgiven but that there is still something** temporal** which remains. Is that a correct understanding?

I have some unanswered questions, as well. I heard, from my pastoral group, last Sunday, that Christ died for only** original sin**, nothing else. That was news to me, though.

I had thought when Jesus died, it covered all our sins. However, there is also the saints who say we still need victim souls. So, it does make one wonder how the concept of forgiveness, atonement, etc. all works! I thought I understood, that it was easy. Now, I see it’s not quite as cut-and-dried as I originally thought! I am still struggling to understand it all, myself!


Absolution saves your from the eternal fires of Hell. Penance helps save you from temporary the pains of purification in Purgatory.


You may be forgiven, but you still must be punished for that sin. You will be punished in purgatory. You can relieve yourself of some of that punishment by doing penance or gaining indulgences, or both.

I believe Christ died for all of our sins.

At the time absolution is given, 3 things must be present: You must be sorry, you must intend to do penance, and you must intend to not commit the sin again. If any one of those if lacking, absolution is not valid. But, if at the time absolution was given, you intended to do penance, but right after you walked out of the confessional, you decided to not do the prescribed penance, you are still forgiven. However, it is a mortal sin to not do the penance prescribed to you.


You have a moral obligation to carry out your penance; however, the priest’s absolution isn’t conditional on fulfilling the penance. Forgiveness is given by God not the priest. You are only forgiven if you are truly contrite. Again this forgiveness isn’t conditional on your penance. It does depend, though, on your contrition.


**Jesus did, indeed, die for all sins. However, we must apply His graces to ourselves, by repenting and confessing. There is still temporal punishment, though, after forgiveness - rather like cleaning up the mess after having been forgiven for dropping all the dishes on the floor. We need to do penance - and not just the penance assigned by the priest in confession - to do this. Small mortifications - such as uncomplainingly washing the dishes other selfishly left in the kitchen :wink: If we do not do this penance during life, when we die - in a state of grace - we will have to spend some time in Purgatory before going to Heaven.

It is, indeed, easy, but, also difficult for us weakened humans. **


I’m not sure about whether it affects sins being forgiven how ever I think that after confessing a mortal sin you have to say your penance before receiving communion


Absolution is indeed not conditional - its absolute! :smiley:


Not necessarily. Some churches with two priests will offer confession during mass right up until the second priest must stop hearing confessions to help distribute Holy Communion. It would be unrealistic to expect a penitent to rush through his penance to receive our Lord. The graces of the body of and blood of our Lord are vital towards converting the penitent heart immediately following confession!


Pardon me, I’m not as educated as I maybe should be with these things.

Thanks for the information!


We are all continually learning. Keep up the good work! :slight_smile:


As the others have said absolution is not conditional upon penance being done.

You didn’t ask this but anyway if a person deliberately withholds a mortal sin then even if the priest gives absolution it is not valid. You can fool the priest but not God.


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