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Ask Father: Penance

Dear Father: So, in confession, if we don’t do the penance, are we still absolved?

Dear friend in Christ,

Yes! Penance is not part of the absolution. It’s something we do after we have been forgiven to put us on the right track going forward. Absolution is different. Absolution is the moment that the soul is freed from sin. Absolution occurs when the priest says the words “I absolve you.”

The point of penance is to build up the virtue which corresponds to the vices we just confessed. In other words, if we just confessed impatience, the priest may give us a penance which helps us develop the virtue of patience.

And we must do our penances even though they are not necessary for the forgiveness of sins. Doing our penance is a tangible gesture which shows God we are serious about not wanting to commit those sins again.

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