First of all, let me say that I am very capable of misreading and misunderstanding things that I read. I believe we all do, to a certain extent, as we tend to interpret the written word “to our own image and likeness.”
Regarding the November 2011 article in HPR, entitled: “On Penance, Absolution, and the Forgiveness of Sins,” written by Dr. Randall Smith, I do have one comment regarding his explanation of the penance given by the priest to the penitent.
I may be wrong, but I found, nowhere in the article, any mention of the fact that the temporal punishment due to sin remains even though we are forgiven. The penance given by the priest remits part of the temporal punishment, but not all (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1473, The punishments of sin).
It is very apparent, in talking with fellow Catholics, that there is a huge misunderstanding regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I have heard it said that when one goes to confession, and should they die shortly thereafter, they will go straight to Heaven. When I mentioned that it may be that they will have to go to Purgatory first, owing to the temporal punishment remaining, they looked shocked, and did not know about temporal punishment at all.
In this month of the Holy Souls, it would befit all of the Church Militant on Earth to reflect on the fact that many souls, whom they judged to have gone straight to heaven, may, in fact, be in Purgatory this very minute, hoping that priests are more diligent in teaching this doctrine!
Mrs. Debby Rust