What happens to the sins that penance isn't done for?

Are your sins forgive if you fail to perform the penance given to you during confession? What happens if you TRIED to do it but just couldn’t?

We have a visiting priest and his penance is always the same – “before the week is over, perform an anonymous act of kindness” … I have a hard time with the ‘anonymous’ part.

When I do something nice for someone, they KNOW that I’m the one doing the act and the anonymous part goes out the window.

Your sins are forgiven when the words of absolution are spoken, however, temporal punishment remains. Penance is imposed by the confessor to make atonement for the temporal punishment. The *Catechism of the Catholic Church * explains: “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.’” (CCC 1459)

In the case where an imposed penance cannot be performed for some reason, I suggest you request a different form of penance.

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