Penance


#1

If you go to confession and the priest forgives your sins, but you don’t say your penance, will you go to purgatory or straight to heaven?

Can a good work make up for a mortal sin? If you lie to someone, but you then donate half your income to charity, will you go straight to hell because you commited the mortal sin?


#2

If you are killed before you can complete your penance then there are circumstances where this is forgiveable (you used the word, say penance, that is incorrect because penance can also be actions). For example: if I get a penance to fast for two days, but I die on the way home in a car wreck while i had every intention of completing my penance, then it is counted in my favor. If you deliberately put off your assigned penance as an act of disobedience, then you haven’t really completed the sacrament, have you?

No ammount of good works can atone for any of our sins. Only the sacrament of reconciliation can cleanse us of our sins by the Grace of God. If you have a mortal sin which you willfully do not confess and recieve absolution for then no matter the good works you do to contravene it will damn your soul to hell. That’s the nature of mortal sin. Incidently, if you confess your sin and serve your penance, then good acts of CERTAIN KINDS can grant an indulgence in your favor. (be it donation to charity, good works, etc).


#3

I don’t believe that’s accurate. You are truly absolved of your sins, however not doing your penance is another sin. (either venial or mortal, depending on your reason).


#4

The system has changed. In the early days it was necessary to return after completing the penance to receive absolution.


#5

But these AREN’T the old days and SH is precisely correct - forgiveness is effective upon the saying of the words of absolution regardless of performance of penance or not.

If you deliberately chose not to perform all or part of your penance that’s one thing, and may be a new sin, if you put it off for a short time (I guess it would depend on how long) then that wouldn’t be sinful.

I don’t think the priest is even obliged to give a penance at all if he chooses not.


#6

Sometimes folks were assigned a penance for their entire lives and never return for absolution.

Are we to wonder if God ever forgave those people?


#7

Rubbish - a person can’t be assigned a penance for an indefinite period like ‘for the rest of your life’. They were assigned for definite periods of time.

If, as may have happened, someone was told ‘one day’, ‘one week’, ‘one month’ or whatever and died during that period of time, then of course they were forgiven.


#8

That is not what the Catechism teaches.

Talking about the Sacrament:

1450 “Penance requires . . . the sinner to (1) endure all things willingly, (2) be contrite of heart, (3) confess with the lips, and (4) practice complete humility and (5) fruitful satisfaction.”

Notice that fruitful satisfaction (works of penance) is listed as a requirement along with contrition and the confession itself.

If fruitful satisfaction is not necessary for forgiveness, then neither is contrition.

I doubt anyone would say contrition is unnecessary.

1459 "the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”

Strong words: “must”…“requires”…

No satisfaction/expiation = No penance

That is what I was taught.


#9

Not rubbish at all.

Some had to perform exomologesis for their entire lives, with no absolution given, of course.

If, as may have happened, someone was told ‘one day’, ‘one week’, ‘one month’ or whatever and died during that period of time, then of course they were forgiven.

Without absolution?

Please note that some had to do years of penance. When I say years, I mean 5, 10, 20 years or more before they receive any absolution.

Is absolution only an optional part of the Sacrament?


#10

Then you were taught wrong. The section of the Catechism on penance refers to more than just the formal sacramental form administered by a priest. As this portion of it shows:

"V. THE MANY FORMS OF PENANCE IN CHRISTIAN LIFE

1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving,[31] which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by **Baptism or martyrdom **they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.”[32]

So when was the last time you or anyone walked into a confessional and the priest mentioned baptism or martyrdom as the appropriate penance, hmmm?

This is what the Catechism has to say regarding formal confession to and absolution by a priest:

"1484 “Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, **unless physical or moral impossibility excuses **from this kind of confession.”[94] There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: “My son, your sins are forgiven.”[95] … "

Any mention of the priest being obligated to order a formal act of penance in there? Any mention of forgiveness being conditional once the words ‘your sins are forgiven’ have been pronounced through the mouth of the priest?

As for exomologesis, certainly it was ordered - but for an indefinite period? Absolutely not. Long periods? Certainly. Years? Yes. These people were in the same position as Catechumens (those being prepared to enter the faith) or those who die without access to a priest who make an Act of Perfect Contrition (which includes the resolution to confess if possible).

Anyone who, through no doing of their own, has the resolution and intention to seek absolution but is prevented from doing so, is indeed treated as if they had sought and obtained such absolution. As it says - someone who is ordered to undergo the process of penance prior to absolution, or is undergoing the catechumenate or whatever, is under a physical or moral impossibility of exactly the type envisioned in the Catechism.


#11

LilyM and SpiritHound are correct,

Assuming contrition, as soon as the priest pronounces the absolution, “I absolve you in the name of the Father, and of the Son…” the sins are forgiven. We do nothing to earn our forgiveness. It is freely granted by the Grace of God. If one fails to perform penance, one will simply need to perform it later in Purgatory. See below from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, section on Penance:

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

God Bless


#12

Atemi:

Sometimes folks were assigned a penance for their entire lives and never return for absolution.

Some had to perform exomologesis for their entire lives, with no absolution given, of course

Just curious, where can I read about this? It sounds interesting.

Thank You.


#13

1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”


#14

There’s a reason I stated the first half of my post just as I did. You’ll note that I do NOT state that a person who deliberately avoids the completion of their penance is judged guilty of their confessed sins, nor do I ever state that such a person would be damned to hell. However, I do state that without completing the penance the SACRAMENT is incomplete (not that absolution is not granted). I say this because the function of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is to 1) forgive the sinner and 2) restore the spiritual well-being of the sinner. Since 2 cannot be accomplished without penance (as stated by the quoted portion above), I return to exactly what I stated in my original response.


#15

Thank you for explaining that further :slight_smile: I now understand what you meant.


#16

There is one problem.

Notice that you offered the caveat: “assuming contrition…”

But the Catechism is clear that along with contrition, penance requires satisfaction. They are placed side by side, though contrition is the heart of them all.

We do nothing to earn our forgiveness. It is freely granted by the Grace of God. If one fails to perform penance, one will simply need to perform it later in Purgatory. See below from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, section on Penance:

As the Encyclopedia also explains:

“Without sorrow for sin there is no forgiveness

That leads us to my point, which the Encyclopedia echoes:

“Whoever in fact repents of his sin out of love for God must be willing to comply with the Divine ordinance regarding penance”

Must be willing to comply.

This is why Lily cannot be correct because she said “If you deliberately chose not to perform all or part of your penance…”

And that is the issue I addressed.

How can one be said to be contrite when they would deliberately choose not to perform the penance assigned to them?

That is impossible, and thus no forgiveness without satisfaction.

So that brings us full circle back to earning forgiveness from God.

If anyone can explain how one can be truly contrite for sin, which is required for forgiveness, and also deliberately choose not to do penance for that sin, then that would be interesting to say the least.


#17

A thorough study on the early church practice of exomologesis would explain all this.


#18

A thorough study on the early church practice of exomologesis would explain all this.

Where would I find this? Sorry if this is an obvious answer. I am new here and need a finger in the correct direction.


#19

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