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The expiation of wrongdoing, especially the penance imposed by a priest before giving sacramental absolution. Essentially the satisfaction consists in the penitent's willingness to accept the penance imposed and its actual fulfillment. The effect of these two elements is to remove more or less the temporal punishment due to the sins confessed. In the early Church, up to the Middle Ages, the penance imposed was generally severe. Later on the severity was mitigated through what have since come to be known as indulgences. (Etym. Latin satisfacere: satis, sufficient, enough + facere, to do, make.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.