Penance administered by Priest after Confession

Is it completely necessary to complete the penance proscribed by the priest? What if one honestly forgets to perform it? Is it a sin not to perform it?

The priest grants absolution so why is the penance necessary?

Yes it is a necessary part of the sacrament. The priest imposes penance as well as granting absolution for good reason.

The fact is that, while absolution (forgiveness from God) is necessary (as I would have to apologise to my husband if I spilt red wine all over his favourite white shirt), the consequences of our sin (just like the stain on my husband’s shirt) remain even after being forgiven.

True repentance includes a desire to repair the harm done by one’s sin as far as possible, which is what the penance does. In the same manner, if I am truly desirous of repairing my relationship with my husband, I’ll either wash his shirt, send it to the cleaner’s if I’m inept at getting red wine stains out, or buy him a new shirt if the stained one is beyond cleaning.

Can you imagine me apologising to my husband but at the same time not even offering to repair the damage, clean his shirt or what have you? It would certainly indicate that my repentance was somewhat insincere.

Any sin, to be mortal, must be done consciously. So if you honestly forget to do the penance it’s certainly not a mortal sin, and unlikely to be even a venial one.

If you deliberately choose not to do it (absent a good reason such as the penance becoming impossible to do for some reason) then it is certainly a sin. I am inclined to think it would be grave, as it would probably show you’re not really taking the sacrament of confession seriously.

it is part of the treatment, the remedy, but failure to complete it does not invalidate the confession, because that grace depends on Christ’s action, not ours. It is like visiting the doctor and getting his advice and recommendations. his treatment is efficacious, but if we fail to fill our Rx, do the diet and exercise, get the therapy he prescribes, even though our immediate problem is addressed, we fail to benefit from his care in the long run.

think of this in terms of any human relationship that is important to you. If you say you are sorry, and mean it, and accept the forgiveness of the person you hurt, are they going to believe you if you make no attempt to make up for what you did? should they doubt your sincerity if you don’t even try to make it better?

I love your thread title btw, I thought you were going to say the priest told you to get down and give me twenty push-ups, or to run laps in the churchyard, or take 10 lashes with a wet noodle.

Making satisfaction for sin is the proper human response to the compassion of God which moves Him to “forgive us our sins, & to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Our doing the penance, is how we make satisfaction - Christ has made a super-abundant satisfaction for all sins: therefore, His members are to live out His action in their lives. For us not to do penance, amounts to saying He did not satisfy for our sins. We aren’t adding to Christ’s infinitely perfect & infinitely meritorious work, but are giving it expression. Our action is an application of action of Christ to our circumstances - which is one of the things the Church is: a means for making the gracious power of Christ a reality throughout all creation :slight_smile:

That’s how I make sense of it all anyway.

It is not a sin to spill red wine on your husband’s favorite shirt–(unless you did it on purpose.)

I like the example that the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen gave. He use the analogy that when we sin it is like hammering a nail into a board. When we go to confession and the priest absolves us from our sins, it is like pulling the nail out. But something remains- a hole! We have to repair the damage. We fix the hole by filling it with putty and sanding. When we do the penance that the priest gives us, it repairs the damage caused by our sins.

It is my understanding that when you have been given absotution, your sins are forgiven and that is not dependant upon you doing the penace. But you should remember that **you will have to make up for every sin you commit either while you are still living on this earth or in purgatory. **

Then if you have to “make up” for sin, you’re not really forgiven, are you?

If I steel your car and return the next day and say, “Hey, I’m sorry I stole your car. I really mean it.” Should I be allowed to keep your car? And if I prayed to God to forgive me for steeling your car do you think he would let me keep it because I said I was sorry and he forgave me?

So, if I make my son pay for the window he broke out of his allowance money, is he “not really forgiven” for breaking the window? :confused:

Actually, the reason I make my son pay for the window out of his allowance money is because I do forgive him, and I want him to become the responsible adult that I know Jesus created him to be.

Being forgiven doesn’t mean getting off scott-free with no consequences - rather, only, that the consequences are appropriate and life-giving, rather than punitive and hateful. We are called to grow and learn from our mistakes, but how can we do that, if there are no consequences for making mistakes?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.