On at least two occasions, the Old Testament tells us that David, a man after God’s own heart, committed sin (2 Sam.11: 26-27; 12: 7-23; and 24: 18-25). On both occasions, David admitted his guilt to God and God forgave David’s sin (2 Sam. 12: 13-14; 24:10-17), and yet, he suffered punishment for his sin. Why?
David was required to build an altar and offer sacrifices on another man’s property. David was offered the property and animals for sacrifice free of charge. David refused the offer. He would not offer any sacrifice to God that would cost him nothing (2 Sam. 24: 24-25). Why?
There remains some indebtedness to Divine justice which must be canceled now or hereafter (Purgatory). Penance is the payment of the temporal punishment owed on account of the offense committed against God. It is an act of reparation required to satisfy the injury done to the honor of God and to make whole our relationship with God (1 Cor.11:32). It is a sign of sorrow for our sin, our love for God and our desire to make right with God (1 Kg. 21: 27-29; 2 Kg. 22:19). It is also a preventive remedy meant to hinder any further breach of that relationship. CCC 1459.
Why this Penance? The council of Trent reiterated the traditional belief and practice that penance is to be imposed. The giving of it is an obligation on the confessor. Penance is usually in the form of certain prayers that the penitent is to say or of certain actions which the penitent is to perform, i.e. visiting a church, fasting, almsgiving, etc. The nature and the extent of the penance is determined by the confessor according to the nature of the sins, the unique circumstances of the sinner, the likelihood of relapse, and the need of eradicating evil habits. CCC 1460. In some cases, the penitential acts may take place over a period of time. However, this does not prevent the penitent from receiving any other sacrament in the meantime since absolution restores the penitent to the state of grace. And yet, the penitent is still obligated to complete the penance. MAY WE BE RIGHT WITH GOD AND NEIGHBOR (The10 Words)! RESOURCES: Catholic Answers and New Advent MAC AND MARCIA