September 14, 2012

Two Types of Punishment Due to Sin

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

There are two types of punishment due to sin:

Eternal punishment & Temporal punishment

Eternal punishment, what we might call guilt, is forgiven and removed in the Sacrament of Confession. You carry it in when you enter the Confessional, but you leave without it when you receive Absolution. If you had lost Sanctifying Grace, you have received it again and all eternal guilt and punishment is gone.

But, temporal punishment remains to be paid in this life or in the life to come. Also, any attachments to sin may remain after Confession. It might help to understand temporal punishment by way of an analogy. If one steals something from a friend and goes to that friend seeking forgiveness, that friend might indeed forgive him. Those two people are once again friends. That is what God does with us in Confession. He restores Communion between us. But, just as your human friend might expect you to return to him what was stolen, there may likewise be some act that you must do in cooperation with God’s grace after Confession. Jesus is clear, nothing imperfect will enter into Heaven, so, if after the Judgment, any imperfections, punishments and disordered attachments remain in you that you have not overcome in this life, you will be purified of them in the life to come. This purification is what Catholics call Purgatory. For more information, see the related article,Purgatory Made Simple”. Purgatory is not one of the Four Last Things because after the Universal Judgment Purgatory will no longer exist.

So, that is it. Heaven is what awaits the souls of the Just after death where they will enjoy perfect joy and beatitude in the Beatific Vision… seeing God face-to-face. Hell is the place of everlasting punishment that awaits the souls of the Damned after death. In both places, the soul will be reunited with the resurrected body after the Universal Judgment

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

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