Is it a sin not to do the penance given by a priest?

Yes, unless the penance is physically not do-able (e.g. a pilgramage to Rome you canot afford), would break the seal (e.g. turn yourself in for a crime you confessed) or is so overtly onerous you cannot possibly do it (e.g. say 1 billion rosaries by next Sunday).

I have never been to confession where the penance has been so severe or difficult that it cannot be done within a day. Is there something specific you are struggling with?

For me,the question has never been raised as I always say or perform the penance given by my confessor?The way I look at it,and yes,there is such a thing as "thinking erroneously,"I think two decades of the rosary is better than 300 years of expiation in Purgatory.

From what I understand, failure to do the penance invalidates the confession, including the absolution. Not sure if this is the case. Maybe others could enlighten me on this.

Not so - at the words of absolution, the penitent is absolved of ALL his/her sins, no take-backs. However if he/she neglects the penance, they gotta go right back to confession anyways because that is a new sin.

Its not too difficult…but i think if I can’t do it wholeheartedly better I don’t do it all…btw its been a month and some since confession.
I was not aware that the penance was to be completed within a day.

I don’t think there is a specific time limit for the penance, I just find it easiest and makes the most impact for me if I do it that day.

You should try to do it as soon as you can, as part of the act of penance is to show your sorrow for the sins you just confessed.

God wants you to be perfect just as His Son was perfect, but He knows that even the greatest of Saints (with the exception of Mary) are not perfect all the time. Doesn’t matter, He loves you anyway. Some free advice: Suck it up and do your penance by the end of the week. Do it as best you can. Embrace the reluctance and offer it to God as an additional struggle. To quote another great philosopher: “Git 'er done”. :smiley:


Absolution is NOT conditional upon a penance being performed.

It doesn’t have to be done within a day. Some penances cannot be completed within a day. It is, however, a good idea to complete the penance as soon as possible.

I always appreciate a priest who is willing to give a penance that is related to helping me overcome a particular sin, rather than give me a standard set of prayers. My confessor is very good about this, but he always asks me if I will accept a penance that is particularly difficult.

This is true if our ideas are tuned in to each other,however my sentiments is in reparation and atonement for the wrong one has done.If not atoned for in this life,the next will bear much more severity is the point I was trying to make.Depending on the state that one is in,come their expiration is another question.

Your sins are forgiven by the priest’s absolution. However it is a new sin not to do the penance. There is no time limit on performing it, but it is sinful to delay it so long that you forget to do it.

It is probably best to do it before your next confession, but don’t delay your next confession just because you haven’t completed the penance from the previous one.

If the penance is too difficult, you can tell the priest at your next confession and ask for a substitute penance.

We all struggle and lean on each other - we can do no less as we are the Body of Christ. You are most welcome and will be in my prayers today.

Do it. Ask God to supply the whole-heartedness that you don’t have.

Sorry but I have no clue what you are trying to say!

See Father Z’s QUAERITUR: Is a penance assigned in confession a canonical obligation?in response to:

So my question is this: Is the penance imposed on us by our confessor an actual canonical obligation that must be fulfilled, or simply some kind “personal obligation” we fulfill out of good will and contrition?

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