Satisfaction or Penance
105 Q. What is satisfaction?
A. Satisfaction, which is also called sacramental penance, is one of the acts of the penitent by which he makes a certain reparation to the justice of God for his sins, by performing the works the confessor imposes on him.
106 Q. Is the penitent bound to accept the penance imposed on him by the confessor?
A. Yes, the penitent is bound to accept the penance imposed on him by the confessor if he can perform it; and if he cannot, he should humbly say so, and ask some other penance.
107 Q. When should the penance be performed?
A. If the confessor has fixed no time, the penance should be performed as soon as convenient, and as far as possible while in the state of grace.
108 Q. How should the penance be performed?
A. The penance should be performed entirely and devoutly.
109 Q. Why is a penance imposed in confession?
A. A penance is imposed because, after sacramental absolution which remits sin and its eternal punishment, there generally remains a temporal punishment to be undergone, either in this world or in Purgatory.
110 Q. Why has our Lord willed to remit all the punishment due to sin in the sacrament of Baptism, and not in the sacrament of Penance?
A. Our Lord has willed to remit all the punishment due to sin in the sacrament of Baptism, and not in the sacrament of Penance, 'because the sins after Baptism are much more grievous, being committed with fuller knowledge and greater ingratitude for God's benefits, and also in order that the obligation of satisfying for them may restrain us from falling into sin again.
111 Q. Can we of ourselves make satisfaction to God?
A. Of ourselves we cannot make satisfaction to God, but we certainly can do so by uniting ourselves to Jesus Christ, who gives value to our actions by the merits of His passion and death.
112 Q. Does the penance which the confessor imposes always suffice to discharge the punishment which remains due to our sins?
A. The penance which the confessor imposes does not ordinarily suffice to discharge the punishment remaining due to our sins; and hence we must try to supply it by other voluntary penances.
113 Q. Which are the works of penance?
A. The works of penance may be reduced to three kinds: Prayer, Fasting, and Alms-deeds.
114 Q. What is meant by prayer?
A. By prayer is meant every kind of pious exercise.
115 Q. What is meant by fasting?
A. By fasting is meant every kind of mortification.
116 Q. What is meant by almsgiving?
A. By almsgiving is meant every spiritual or corporal work of mercy.
117 Q. Which penance is the more meritorious, that which the confessor gives, or that which we do of our own choice?
A. The penance which the confessor imposes is the most meritorious, because being part of the sacrament it receives greater virtue from the merits of the passion of Jesus Christ.
118 Q. Do those who die after having received absolution but before they have fully satisfied the justice of God, go straight to Heaven?
A. No, they go to Purgatory there to satisfy the justice of God and be perfectly purified.
119 Q. Can the souls in Purgatory be relieved of their pains by us?
A. Yes, the souls in Purgatory can be relieved by our prayers, alms-deeds, all our other good works, and by indulgences, but above all by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
120 Q. Besides his penance, what else must the penitent do after confession?
A. Besides performing his penance after confession, the penitent, if he has justly injured another in his goods or reputation, or if he has given him scandal, must as soon as possible, and as far as he is able, restore him his goods, repair his honour, and remedy the scandal.
121 Q. How can the scandal given be remedied?
A. The scandal given can be remedied by removing the occasion of it and by edifying by word and example those whom we have scandalised.
122 Q. How should we make satisfaction to one whom we have offended?
A. We should make satisfaction to one whom we have offended, by asking his pardon, or by some other suitable reparation.
123 Q. What fruits does a good confession produce in us?
A. A good confession: (1) Remits the sins we have committed and gives us the grace of God; (2) Restores us peace and quiet of conscience; (3) Reopens the gates of Heaven and changes the eternal punishment of hell into a temporal punishment; (4) Preserves us from falling again, and renders us capable of partaking of the treasury of Indulgences.
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Pius X, Pope St.. Catholic Catechism of Saint Pius X (1908) (pp. 87-89). Kindle Edition.