November 7th

Last week I mentioned in my article that November is a month in which we remember, in a special way, the souls of those who have gone before us.  It is helpful to make distinctions in order to more clearly understand whatever it is that we might be investigating.  For the sake of clarity, then, we ought to distinguish between the guilt of sin and the punishment due to sin.

Whenever a sin is committed, both guilt and its effects are incurred.  Even after sins have been forgiven, there is still the punishment due to sin that remains.  That is why we receive a penance at the end of the Sacrament of Confession.  We receive forgiveness of our sins at the Absolution that we receive at the end of Sacrament of Confession.  The penance imposed by the priest reminds us that even though our sins have been forgiven, we still need to make atonement for our sins.

The classic example, which is often used as an analogy for the effects of sin, is that of a broken window: if a child were to intentionally break a neighbor’s window, there would be several steps involved in reconciling with the neighbor.  First the child is sorry for breaking the window; then the child apologizes, the person then forgives the child, and yet the window still needs to be paid for.

Whenever we sin, we first have to turn away from sin; then we ask for forgiveness (in confession, if the sin was mortal).  God is always willing to forgive us whenever we repent of our sins and ask for His mercy.  Finally, we must make reparation for the sin: i.e. the “window” has to be paid for.

When we speak of indulgences, we are not talking about obtaining the forgiveness of sins: we are referring to the need to make reparation for the sins for which have already been forgiven.

When we pray for our deceased brothers and sisters we are not asking God to forgive them their sins, we are praying that their souls will be perfectly purified of the effects that their sins have had on their souls so that they may be able to enter into God’s all-holy presence.

The Church tells us that our prayers and sacrifices are beneficial to those who have died in God’s grace and yet are still need to be purified from the effects of sin.  Let us remember to keep all the souls of the faithfully departed in our prayers especially during this month of November.


God bless,

Father White