ASK FATHER: Am I still forgiven if I don’t to my assigned penance? | 10/24/2019 | View all posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf →


I saw a tweet about a question on confession. The person said the penance she got from the priest in confession was hard but she didn’t completely do it. She wanted to know if she was forgiven her sins. A priest answered and linked to an answer that didn’t seem right. Can you help? I’ve done this, too, and I’ve sometimes forgotten to do it when it was something hard or had to be done later.

Tweet - Question - HERE - Questioner - Website

The tweet in question was included HERE. The questioner was directed to another website which almost got it right.

This question, in one form or another, has come up before.

People - Priests - Penances - Penances - Something

Sometimes people run into these priests who given “deferred” penances or “vague” penances (“Do something nice for someone later today.”). How the heck do you know if you did it? Something “nice”?

Priests should give penances that are clear so that people know when they have done them. Don’t leave people scratching their heads, Fathers! Also, people have lives to live and, often, they want to go to Communion very soon after going to confession. Put them at ease and give them something they can do right away, after getting out of the confessional.

Let’s drill in now.

It is clear that “satisfaction” is a necessary part of the process of being absolved and reconciled with God, Church and self. The Council of Trent makes this clear. Can. 981 makes this clear. Priests are to give penances and people are, personally, to fulfill them. They can’t have someone else do them. It is a Protestant error and an attack on the Sacrament of Penance to claim that some satisfaction for sin is unnecessary, because Christ fulfilled all satisfaction (which, in itself is true… more below). Trent makes it clear that satisfaction is not for the remission of the eternal penalty...
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