(Editor’s note: Deacon Frank Agnoli presents the sixth in his series of articles on the healing sacraments. He is director of liturgy and of deacon formation for the Davenport Diocese.)
As mentioned last week, there are four key elements to the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: contrition, confession, satisfaction and absolution.
In absolution, the first effect of sin — guilt — is healed. In the penance, or satisfaction, we begin to address and heal the second effect, the “temporal punishment” due to sin. We need to be very clear here: performing the penance does not earn us God’s forgiveness. It is Christ who has made this forgiveness possible by his paschal mystery. If our sin is “mortal” — if we have turned completely away from God — then the only way to be healed or reconciled is through the grace of this sacrament. Lesser sins — or partial turning away from God — can be healed not only by this sacrament but also through prayer, fasting, other penitential acts and, especially, the Eucharist.
To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Catholic Messenger’s e-edition.