Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Sacrament of Penance

Penance is a sacrament in which the priest, as the representative of God, forgives sins when the sinner is heartily sorry for them, confesses them sincerely, and is determined to do penance for them.

Where is the Sacrament of Penance administered?

In the church, where confessionals are erected. The sick and those who are deaf may make their confession in some other suitable place.

What vestments does the priest wear when hearing confession?

In addition to the cassock, the usual priestly garment, he wears a violet stole and the surplice. The priest is seated, as a sign of his judicial power; the penitent, however, kneels, as a sign of reverence and humility.

How is the Sacrament of Penance administered?

  1. The priest gives the penitent his blessing, and prays that God may give him grace to confess his sins fully and with contrite heart.
  2. The penitent confesses his sins.
  3. The priest gives him fatherly advice and warning, imposes the penance, and then, if worthy, gives him absolution.

What are the words of absolution?

“I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” As he pronounces these words, the priest makes the sign of the cross over the penitent. Before and after absolution the priest repeats other short prayers, and finally dismisses the penitent with the words, “Go in peace, and pray for me,” or some other suitable formula.


What punishment is remitted in the Sacrament of Penance?

The eternal punishment is remitted in full; the temporal only in part. What remains, however, can be expiated by indulgences.

What is an indulgence?

It is a remission made, outside the Sacrament of Penance, of the temporal punishment still due for our sins already forgiven, and which punishment must be undergone here or in purgatory.

How does the Church remit the punishment due to sin?

The Church satisfies the divine justice out of the inexhaustible treasury of the merits of Christ and His saints. The virtue and efficacy of indulgences flow from the spiritual treasury of the Church, which consists of the infinite merits of Christ and His saints. This treasury is to be considered the common property of the faithful which the Church administers and from which, by virtue of the communion of saints, making us all members of one body, the abundance of one supplies the want of the other. (2nd Corinthians 8:14)

How many kinds of indulgences are there?

Two: plenary indulgences, which remit all the temporal punishment due to sin, and partial indulgences by which a portion of the punishment is remitted.

What do you understand by an indulgence of forty days, seven years, etc.?

A remission of so much temporal punishment as would have been remitted to him who under the ancient law of the Church did penance for forty days or for seven years. An indulgence of forty days is also called a quarantine.

What is the indulgence for the dying?

A plenary indulgence which the Church gives to the dying at the hour of death, after receiving the Viaticum. This is likewise called a general absolution. There is no fixed formula for bestowing indulgences; they may be gained by fulfilling the conditions prescribed at the time. The Church has a fixed formula only for the indulgence given to the dying. The assertion that the Church by indulgences pardons past or future sins, or that she dispenses indulgences for money, is a slander. True, the Church in bestowing indulgences sometimes prescribes, in addition to sincere repentance, that alms be given for worthy objects, as for example to build a church or found a hospital. This custom, praiseworthy in the beginning, in time became subject to abuse. All abuses were discontinued by order of the Council of Trent; the same council declared, however, that “the custom of granting indulgences to Christian people is exceedingly beneficial, and is confirmed by the authority of the holy council.”

Goffine’s Devout Instructions