Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Penance! Yes penance. Penance is one of the most important things we can do as Christians. You've heard it a million times, "we're all sinners." But do you really think you're a sinner? Probably not. When people say they know they sin, they say it very nonchalantly. As if sinning against God isn't that big of a deal. Let me tell you with clarity and certainty; It is a huge deal!
Sin is what separates us from God. It's what destroys our relationship with Him. It is what will send your soul to hell if it is not rectified properly. Yes you too can end up in hell. Don't think it's just for societies version of bad people. It's true, we do all sin, but we can reconcile ourselves with God after we've been separated from Him due to our sins? It's extremely unfortunate that so many people today believe that you don't have to confess your sins in order to obtain forgiveness for them. Those are essentially lost souls who will end up suffering a dreadful fate in the next world. But for those who do understand the necessity of confession, it's step one in making amends for sin.
Have you ever contemplated the crucifixion? There's an entire story behind the crucifixion. From the Last supper to the crucifixion, Jesus went through a suffering that our minds can't truly comprehend. When you die and go before the judgement seat of God, you will have a complete understanding of the Passion of Jesus. Mel Gibson did a phenomenal job of depicting it in his film, The Passion of Christ. If you've never seen this film, I highly suggest watching it. If you have seen it, watch it again. This movie is based on the visions of St. Catherine Emmerich. When you watch the brutality which Jesus suffered in that movie, try to remember that it's but a small fragment of what really happened to our Lord. Mel had to take something that lasted about twelve hours and compress it into a two hour movie.
So, when we understand the true horror of what Christ suffered for each one of us individually, we'll begin to understand the necessity of penance. Confessing your sins and doing the penance that's given by your confessor is only one part of it. That releases you from the damnation of that sin, but it doesn't satisfy God's justice. I suppose it can be compared to having to go to prison after committing a crime. There's a punishment that must be fulfilled to completely rid yourself of that offense. The same principal applies to offenses against our Lord. You may obtain forgiveness, but there's still a punishment to be served. Now, you can either do that punishment here on earth or in the next world, which if your soul is saved, would be in purgatory. Unfortunately, there are many people who believe that when they die they're going directly to Heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must make satisfaction for your offenses towards God. It's called divine justice and every single one of us will be subject to divine justice for our sins and offenses.
Fortunately, there's a multitude of ways to do penance for our sins. You can fast, give things up that you enjoy or are accustomed too. Acts of charity are some of the best ways to eliminate the punishment due to sin. The list goes on and on of ways to do penance. There's one thing that I can tell you with absolute certainty, and that is, that doing penance here on earth is much more tolerable than the sufferings of purgatory. It is possible to go directly to Heaven, but I don't know anyone, including myself, who's willing to do what it takes to bypass purgatory and go directly to Heaven.
The unfortunate truth is that most people refuse to be anything but live comfortably in this life, which means they're doing nothing to make satisfaction for their sins.. Poverty, humility, patience, charity, again POVERTY!!!! are acts of living the way Christ did. For Christ it was a way of life, but for us it can be an act of penance. Are you willing to change your way of living to live the way Christ did? If not, we certainly won't have any right to complain when we're suffering the severe torments of purgatory.
We will do penance to make up for our sins. It's just a question of whether we're going to do it voluntarily or by the hand of divine justice. The choice is ours. God will give you the grace and strength to endure any penances that you inflict upon yourself. Just remember, with every act of penance you perform here on earth, you're ridding yourself of the punishment due to your sins. You'll be performing wonderful acts in the service of God and you'll get yourself to the glory of Heaven that much faster.
Peace, good and blessings.