Is Guilt a Temporal Punishment?

From: Roy Reeder
Question about Indulgences

Greetings; May the peace of Christ be with you in this Jubilee Year.

Fr Phil:

Have a question about confession/penance/indulgence; from the Catechism:

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin.

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

Is guilt one of these temporal punishments? There are times when something pops up in the viewing screen of the brain, which to me is the Holy Spirit, or Mary pointing out something. Is this the guilt, of a forgiven sin, that is still lingering?

Does this make sense?

God Bless and Peace be with You.



Dear Roy,

Very good question. About guilt we have to distinguish between what St. Paul calls a worldly sorrow and a sorrow which comes from God.* The latter lead to repentance, new life and perhaps as you say "pops up" from time to time as a kind of remorse to help us avoid falling into the same trap. Worldly sorrow is dead end, focused on self. Jesus came to free us from that kind guilt which is the voice of Satan (the "accuser of the brethren" Rev. 12:10). He keeps telling us what one has done is beyond forgiveness, that you are all alone, no one would really love you if they knew all about you, etc. Part of the mercy of the Sacrament of Reconcilation is to free us from that guilt. And, yes, that would be part of the temporal punishment of sin which an indulgence can alleviate.

Have a beautiful Holy Week. God bless,

Fr. Phil

*2 Corinthians 7:10 - Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you...