Penance

Hi,
Could someone please explain (or point me to an article) explaining the purpose of saying penance after confession. All the articles I’ve read when I search on Penance only refer to the sacrament as a whole, not the specific reasons for the saying of penance (or the doing of a penance).
thanks

This is by no means Church Dogma or teaching, just my opinion. Penance makes you reflect on what your sins were that you have confessed for and strengthens you against them in the future.

I’m sure someone will give you a better answer than this.

NewAdvent.com has a rather extensive article on the Sacrament of Penance which includes a discussion of penances imposed.

There is a shorter article from This Rock here.

It would seem that the purpose of assigning, and doing, a penance, is to acknowledge the gravity of our sins before God, and attempt through our penitential acts to make some sort of amends, though inadequate, for them; and to show by our willingness to do the penance that we intend to turn our lives around.

you know earlier i tried to say newadvent.com also but I got kicked off. Runa search on “penance” about two-thirds of the way is this

"SATISFACTION
As stated above, the absolution given by the priest to a penitent who confesses his sins with the proper dispositions remits both the guilt and the eternal punishment (of mortal sin). There remains, however, some indebtedness to Divine justice which must be cancelled here or hereafter (see PURGATORY). In order to have it cancelled here, the penitent receives from his confessor what is usually called his “penance”, usually in the form of certain prayers which he is to say, or of certain actions which he is to perform, such as visits to a church, the Stations of the Cross, etc. Alms, deeds, fasting, and prayer are the chief means of satisfaction, but other penitential works may also be enjoined. The quality and extent of the penance is determined by the confessor according to the nature of the sins revealed, the special circumstances of the penitent, his liability to relapse, and the need of eradicating evil habits. Sometimes the penance is such that it may be performed at once; in other cases it may require a more or less considerable period, as, e.g., where it is prescribed for each day during a week or a month. But even then the penitent may receive another sacrament (e.g., Holy Communion) immediately after confession, since absolution restores him to the state of grace. He is nevertheless under obligation to continue the performance of his penance until it is completed.

And that reminds me confession at 7:00pm tonight

Would it be fair to say that absolution addresses eternal punishment while penance addresses temporal punishment as well as being an outward sign of repentance?

Hi dljl,

Welcome to the forums!

That is an interesting formulation, I’d have to think about that for a bit. But perhaps it might be better to say tha absolution addresses GUILT of sin while penance addresses temporal punishment due to sin.

Does that help at all?
God Bless,
VC

[quote=dljl]Would it be fair to say that absolution addresses eternal punishment while penance addresses temporal punishment as well as being an outward sign of repentance?
[/quote]

Yes it would and very well stated at that.

Might have a look at this

[quote=Church Militant]Yes it would and very well stated at that.

Might have a look at this
[/quote]

Church Militant and dljl,

I too think that it is a good formulation. What I was getting at was that it might be better to expand “eternal punishment” to “guilt for sin” because absolution wipes away the guilt for venial sins as well as mortal sins. Therefore, absolution does not pertain to eternal punishment exclusively (since venial sins do not merit eternal punishment.)

Here is something by Fr. Hardon that I thought was appropriate:

Q.

What are the ways in which venial sin can be forgiven?

F.X., Washington, DC

A.The forgiveness of venial sins is a very important part of our Catholic faith. First of all, there are two things that can be forgiven for the commission of venial sins. The guilt can be forgiven, which means the grace lost through venial sins can be restored. Secondly the punishment due to venial sins can be remitted, either entirely or partially.

Given the above premises, venial sins can be forgiven in all the ways that we can obtain grace from God. Thus every reception of Holy Communion, every participation at Mass, every adoration of the Holy Eucharist, every reception of the sacrament of penance, every indulgence gained, every prayer said, every act of piety performed in the state of grace — are all means by which venial sins are forgiven as described above.

One more proviso should be added. We obtain remission of our venial sins in the degree that we are united with God by His grace and perform a good work with an awareness and a willingness to do God’s will. The more generous we are in doing God’s will in our lives, the more our guilt and penalty for venial sins are remitted.

(from catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/JAN-FEB99/FrHardon.html)

Thoughts?
God Bless,
VC

After heart surgery, I had a number of rehabilitation sessions. I consider penance spiritual rehab. :wink:

A little story:

There was a little boy who had a very hard time controlling his temper. His father told him that every time he lost his temper he had to drive a nail into their fence in the backyard. After the first two days, his little arm was very tired, so he began to control his temper more so he wouldn’t have to drive those nails. After about two weeks, he went an entire day without losing his temper.

His father congratulated him, then asked the boy remove all the nails, and the little boy thought his work was done. But his father called him out to the backyard and said “Son, look at this fence. What do you see?” The boy said “I see a lot of holes.” So the father had him patch the holes and repaint the fence.

When the boy was done, the father said “Son, when you lose your temper you don’t only hurt yourself, you hurt others. Sometimes you say things you shouldn’t have, but you can’t take them back. That’s like the holes that are left in the fence. You have to repair the damage by apologizing to all you have hurt.”

For me, the sacrament of reconciliation pulls out all the nails of sin in the fence, but I have to repair the holes through penance.

[quote=Didi]A little story:

There was a little boy who had a very hard time controlling his temper. His father told him that every time he lost his temper he had to drive a nail into their fence in the backyard. After the first two days, his little arm was very tired, so he began to control his temper more so he wouldn’t have to drive those nails. After about two weeks, he went an entire day without losing his temper.

His father congratulated him, then asked the boy remove all the nails, and the little boy thought his work was done. But his father called him out to the backyard and said “Son, look at this fence. What do you see?” The boy said “I see a lot of holes.” So the father had him patch the holes and repaint the fence.

When the boy was done, the father said “Son, when you lose your temper you don’t only hurt yourself, you hurt others. Sometimes you say things you shouldn’t have, but you can’t take them back. That’s like the holes that are left in the fence. You have to repair the damage by apologizing to all you have hurt.”

For me, the sacrament of reconciliation pulls out all the nails of sin in the fence, but I have to repair the holes through penance.
[/quote]

That sounds like restitution. Is that different than penance? Saying a few prayers for penance sounds more symbolic than anything else. By the way, I love the Spritual Rehab analogy! :thumbsup:

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