Students by their very nature, are curious creatures, and they often have questions regarding the faith. Our Discord Channel is a popular forum for Bulldog Catholics to ask their questions, often very good ones, and I do my level best to answer them.
QUESTION: How would someone know if God were punishing them?
DAVID: So God doesn’t actively punish people; the result of sin is separation from goodness, life and beauty. When scripture speaks of God punishing someone, it is truer to say that he allows this consequence of deprivation from goodness, life, and beauty to happen
Ultimately, though, He wasn’t even satisfied with allowing that to happen, so He sent His only Son that we might be saved from those consequences by faith in Him. With Baptism, that is, participation in the saving death of Jesus, all sins and all “punishments” incurred because of sin are forgiven; in baptism we become a new creature in which nothing remains that would keep us from heaven, neither sin itself nor the consequences of sin, particularly separation from God.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
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. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain. [emphasis added]
1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”