According to the Catechism, “the sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest’s absolution” (CCC 1491). The penitent’s acts are the following:
- Confession or disclosure of sins to the priest
- The intention to make reparation and do works of reparation
The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
It’s the teaching of the Church that all acts of “satisfaction” given by the confessor in the sacrament of penance remits, at least in part, temporal punishments resulting from sin (ibid–if mortal sin, eternal punishment is remitted). The Church also teaches that it’s “ the confessor who “proposes the performance of certain acts of “satisfaction” or “penance” to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ” (CCC 1494).
Other penetintial acts for the remittance of the temporal punishment of sin are prayer, almsgiving, and indulgences.
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain."
In addition to the sacrament of penance, The Church encourages the faithful to perform frequent acts of satisfaction for remaining temporal punishment of sin. In doing so, there will be less time spent in purgatory.
“ The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”