Recently I went to confession, and, for my penance, I-No joke-have to pray to the holy spirit every day for the rest of my life. I accidentally forgot one day. Does this mean I’m not forgiven of my sins? I’d rather not play guess what I did with those particular sins again.

Note I do realize Confession is not a guess what I did game. I fully acknowledge what it is and am thankful for it. I’m just terribly sarcastic.

Dominus Vobiscum.


The absolution of your sins takes place when the priest says “I absolve you,” and does not require performing penance to take effect. Don’t worry, this is an incredibly common misconception.

et cum spiritu tuo!

ATeutonicKnight, God is not legalistic. When He forgives us through the sign of His holy priest, we are forgiven. There are no hoops to jump through or loops to dive under. Our Lord Jesus Christ does not count individual actions with a list of “do-and-do-not”, but takes stock of our heart. Full contrition and absolute sorrow of the penitent is all that is needed when that priest absolves you. Don’t think God’s a celestial task-master. By fearing Him the way you are, you’re making Him into the tyrant that atheists joke about. Never let that happen! :slight_smile:

Who says I fear the Lord? I know that you shouldn’t be afraid of him. I want to join the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. I simply wanted to know if I was absolved or not. How was I making him seem like a tyrant?

Dominus Vobiscum.


You should be fine as long as you genuinely forgot to do it and didn’t put it off just because you didn’t feel like doing it. But as Mark said you are forgiven when the priest says “I absolve you of your sins.” If you are really worried about it, (because I know that I personally get really worried when something like this happens to me) you can just confess it and explain to the priest exactly what your situation is. Remember we all mess up and that’s why Jesus instituted confession in the first place, he knows that we are not perfect.

I’m in the same boat. In the last few years I have received two penances reminiscent of yours: one was to do a daily examination of conscience and the other was to do a small amount of spiritual reading every day.

Now I strongly suspect that these penances, both yours and mine, were either meant more as advice than as penance, or were only intended for the days following the confessions, not for a life-time. But I don’t know for sure. You could ask your priest for clarification.

I personally would find that awkward and have never asked. I have continued with my assigned penances as a very modest personal rule of life, and I think the practice has been helpful.

I think that you will find your penance to be a real blessing, too, assuming you stay with it. Think of it, your priest, speaking in persona Christi, has commanded you to approach the Holy Spirit in prayer every day. You hope to join the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. God Himself, speaking through His priest, has already placed you in His service, at least for a moment of every day. Build on that.

P.S. I fear the Lord, at least in my more sensible moments. Our God is a mighty God. Yes, He is loving, but it still seems prudent not to tick Him off.

Well said. Thank you for the great post.

When I said I wasn’t afraid, I meant it in the way that I didn’t fear him as if he were a tyrant. I am afraid of him in the way that he could take away everything I have in the blink of an eye, but what I do is simply thank him everyday for everything he’s given me and pray that he doesn’t take away irreplaceable things (Such as my family).

Dominus Vobiscum.


I nearly got one of those ‘for life’ penances a couple of months ago. The priest told me a particular way to examine my conscience (which involves a daily spot check and a weekly in-depth examination) and told me to do that every day…no end in sight. Then he went on to talk about some other stuff as I was thinking “Forever? Really? Shall I ask to clarify this?” and finally, 5 minutes later (he gives a lot of advice), he said “For your penance, do that examination of conscience for one week.” PHEW!

I know my sins would have been forgiven whether or not I had completed the penance (as are yours), but I was glad to have that as counsel rather than penance. I have still tried to follow it anyway. Yours sounds good; I will try praying to the Holy Spirit every day from now on.:thumbsup: I will pray for you too.

I would say that the priest gave you incredibly hard penance. Just go to confession again, and get a new shorter penance:)

Don’t worry, He loves you.

If you want you can make a brand new confession, just confess the sins you are not sure they were absolved.

I know this is extremely late, but I wanted to reply to this.

Why would you say it’s extremely hard? It’s not hard in the slightest. I just kneel down, make the sign of the Cross, and say “Holy Spirit, guide me. Help me to always do good, to avoid sin, and to make the right choices. Amen.” I usually add a “Please help me with school, and with Insert particular sin that might be a problem here”. It’s not hard. And I’ve grown to enjoy it. Besides, my sins were forgiven.

Also, as a side-note, when you said “Just go to confession again, and get a new shorter penance”, although it was probably unintentional, that was a heresy. As someone said earlier, that Priest, through persona Christi, gave me this particular penance. To say, “You know what God, I don’t like this penance. I’m going to stop doing it and just go to confession again”, is to commit Sacrilege. That is, the abuse of a Sacrament.

One cannot redo the original confession. However, if one finds a penance too difficult one may describe the problem and ask for a different penance at a subsequent confession. It need not be to the same confessor.

I realize this, but if I were to do what this apparently banned member prescribed, it would’ve been a sacrilege. It’s like the people who complain that a Priest told them to do the Rosary for nine days or something. They complain it’s too hard, but it’s not. It’s them being lazy and not wanting to pray. The Priest didn’t say to pray to the Holy Spirit for half an hour or something.

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