Penance

I don’t get something. When you sin, you go to confession, get absolved, and get penance right? Then your forgiven? Is that all? Are you required to go and “fix” every single one of the sins you committed, even if it is not part of your penance? Or are you forgiven regardless? Does the priest decide what you do for forgiveness and thats all? I’m sorry but the rules of the church are very confusing to me. I would look in my Catechism, but it’s easier to ask you guys.

Thankyou for the answers.

I don’t get something. When you sin, you go to confession, get absolved, and get penance right?Yes. Then your forgiven? Is that all?Yes. You are forgiven your sins, but the temporal punishment remains. Are you required to go and “fix” every single one of the sins you committed, even if it is not part of your penance?It would be a good thing to do if it can be done. Often it cannot, and that is why voluntary additional penance or other good works like alms or prayer would be a good choice. Or are you forgiven regardless? If you confess that you were angry at your brother 6 times, and you are sincerely sorry, you are forgiven, regardless. Even if you don’t do your penance (though you should. If you don’t do it here, you’ll do more in purgatory). But that means that you should take the effort to not be angry at your brother. And if you get angry again, you have to keep on being sorry, and confessing, and doing penance. Does the priest decide what you do for forgiveness and thats all?Yes, the priest gives you a penance. You shouldn’t do less, but you can do more. I’m sorry but the rules of the church are very confusing to me. I would look in my Catechism, but it’s easier to ask you guys. Here is the link to the relevant portion of the Catechism anyway, had to make sure I was properly in line with it. . .christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/healing.html#SACRAMENT

God bless.

Thankyou for the answers

Well…actually, when you go to confession and the priest gives you absolution…at that point in time, you are forgiven for your sins. The penance he gives you is to reconcile (purge of you of the temporal punishment associated with sin) you with the Body of Christ. You don’t need to go and fix every little sin…the penance he gives you covers that. However, I would venture to say that if you are confessing that you are hooked on drugs…it would be prudent to seek help to kick the habit, even if you don’t receive that as a penance. A lot of people believe that your sins are not forgiven until you complete your penance…that is not true. They are forgiven immediately at absolution…however, if you were to die prior to completing your penance, you would finish that penance in purgatory…which I have heard becomes a more difficult penance then…I am not a theologian…and what I said could be a little off, so I would like anyone to please correct me if I am wrong…but I think this is pretty much on the money.

Ok thanks a lot both of you. Those were surprisingly understandable explanations.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen gave an example in one of his talks. Someone had stolen $3000 (or so). He helped the penitent make arrangements to pay back the money.

If I stole some money, or - for example - ruined a person’s reputation through spiteful or careless gossip, I could be forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, but I would need to do what I could to repay the money, or restore the reputation of the person I had maligned.

To put it another way…If my kid breaks a neighbour’s window, the neighbour may forgive him, but he will still need to do work to earn the money to pay for replacing the window. Forgiveness is one thing, repaying what is owed is quite another.

Our pastor recently preached a homily about this topic and told a story of St. Francis of Assisi where a person confessed to him about false witness/gossip about others in the town, and for penance St. Francis told the person to go and place a feather on the doorstep of each person slandered. The person returned the next day and said they had placed the feathers as required. St. Francis said now to finish your penance go and gather up all the feathers and bring them to me. Later on the penitent returned very upset saying they couldn’t find any of the feathers, adding the wind had blown them all over the town. St. Francis said that’s exactly the point of the harm you cause when you said harmful things about others; once you say them you can’t get them back, and they go all over.

A very illustrative story, that makes the point of your original post. I believe that when we harm others in our sin, we still have a moral obligation to make it right to those harmed, if at all possible, or if not in some other way, even after we are forgiven by God. I believe most priests feel the same about “restitution” for harm caused by us in our sin.

Pax Vobiscum

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