Do these things forgive sins?


Does an Act of Penance such as fasting or praying forgive sins? Also, does using sacramentals forgive sins, such as blessing oneself with Holy Water?

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:


These things (as well as other acts of repentance or charity) can obtain forgiveness of venial sins.

For the forgiveness of mortal sins, we are required to confess our sins to a priest and receive absolution. (God can work outside the sacraments in extraordinary circumstances, but confession is the ordinary means He has given us. It is the only way we can be assured of forgiveness.)


Those things may heal or atone for damage for sin. The forgiveness comes from God by the sinner’s act of contrition (to a priest when possible for mortal sins).

See the Catechism paragraphs 1440-1460 or so for a good Catholic understanding on forgiveness and penance.




So God forgives sins through the use of Sacramentals? I’m trying to fit the first two responses together.


Confession is the ordinary way to receive forgiveness.

Perfect contrition is another way. It is extraordinary and difficult.

Venial sins are forgiven every time you assist at Mass during the penitential rite.


If a person makes an act of perfect contrition and died immediately thereafter their sins would be forgiven but assuming death did not intervene they are still required to go to Confession.
An act of perfect contrition is conditional upon the intent to get to Confession as soon as possible thereafter.




If anyone said sacramentals can “forgive” sins, I do not believe that is correct. The Catechism is a sound resource for getting the correct understanding. Guilt is remedied normally in the sacrament of Confession. But even forgiven sins cause damage to our souls, and we are called to make a satisfaction for them for our own healing. Sacramentals can help with the healing part. They are not substitutes for the sacrament of Confession.


Think of sacramentals as specially connected to the prayer of the entire Church. Whatever the prayer of the entire Church can do, the sacramentals can do.

This is why I get a little miffed when priests or catechists say dipping our hands in the font reminds us of our baptism. That’s true, but easily confuses people into thinking it is nothing but symbollic.


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