According to the
Baltimore Catechism... (emphasis added)
Q. Does not
the Sacrament of Penance remit all punishment due to sin?
A. The Sacrament
of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it does not always
remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for our sins.
Q. Why does
God require a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin?
A. God requires a
temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin, to teach us the great evil of sin
and to prevent us from falling again.
Q. Is the
slight penance the priest gives us sufficient to satisfy for all the sins
A. The slight
penance the priest gives us is not sufficient to satisfy for all the sins
confessed: (1) Because there is no real equality between the slight penance
given and the punishment deserved for sin; (2) Because we are all obliged to do
penance for sins committed, and this would not be necessary if the penance given
in confession satisfied for all. The penance is given and accepted in confession
chiefly to show our willingness to do penance and make amends for our sins.
Q. Which are
the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin?
A. The chief
means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are:
Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the
patient suffering of the ills of life.
+ + +
the Sacrament of Penance, as in that of Baptism, the punishment due to sin is
not entirely remitted is admirably explained in these words of the Council of
Trent. Divine justice seems to require that they who through ignorance sinned
before Baptism, should recover the friendship of God in a different manner from
those who, after they have been freed from the thralldom of sin and the devil
and have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, dread not knowingly to violate
the temple of the God and grieve the Holy Spirit. It is also in keeping with the
divine mercy not to remit our sins without any satisfaction, lest, taking
occasion hence, and imagining our sins less grievous than they are, we should
become injurious, as it were, and contumelious to the Holy Ghost, and should
fall into greater enormities, treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day
of wrath. These satisfactory penances have, no doubt, great influence in
recalling from and, as it were, bridling against sin, and in rendering the
sinner more vigilant and cautious for the future." (Catechism of the Council of
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