Best Penance After Reconciliation?

I was living and working in Northern Ca years ago. I went to reconciliation at a local parish. After confessing my sins the conversation went like this:

Priest: “DO you have a bible?”

Me: “Yes.”

Priest: “DO you read it?”

Me: “Yes, some.”

P: “For your penance I want you to memorize one of the psalms. You can’t cheat and memorize one of the short ones. Trust The Spirit and decide. If I hear your next reconciliation I want you to tel me which one.”

Psalm 16

A miktam of David. 2 Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.
Worthless are all the false gods of the land. Accursed are all who delight in them.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods. Blood libations to them I will not pour out, nor will I take their names upon my lips.
LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.
Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

About a month later I returned for reconciliation to the same priest. I confessed and he asked me the same thing. I told him he already assigned me the penance.

P: “Well, did you pick one and memorize it?”

M: “Yes sir.”

P: "Recite the psalm.

I did it.

He gave me absolution and gave ma a small penance and I went on my way.

My job was transferring me to the area. I was looking for an area to relocate to. I was visiting the parishes to see what was there. I stopped in one one Sunday. The greeter grabbed me as I walked in and hugged me. Me being a Texan I was not real comfortable with this but what the hey.

I went to my pew, sat down. The choir started to sing. I was listening and looked at the hymn numbers on the board thingy. I looked up the hymn.

Psalm 16. Chills up my spine.

The greeter and I became fast friends. My friend died of cancer two monthes after we met.

My wife and I spent 8 1/2 years there. They were just starting Renew and we had just finished Renew in Texas.

What was your best penance?

Eddie Mac

Wow, great post. I’ve never been given a penance like that, but it is so cool you memorized Psalm 16. I am working on memorizing the Nicene Creed. In fact, I’m going to get off this puter and go make some flash cards.

Great post, thank you for sharing!

p.s. in case y ou’re wondering, even though I’m beng baptized (conditional baptism) on Easter Vigil, I have gone to reconciliation. At a point I knew I was being baptized and also was aware of some mortal sins while living my protestant once saved always saved life, I did go for repentance, absolution and penance. I was asked to say prayers both times.

Well, on to the flash cards!

I hope any visiting priests on the forum are taking notes. . . :smiley:

I was once embroiled in a very nasty local political battle in which I was being personally maligned and becoming very, very resentful of the people who I believed had started the whole mess. I confessed my uncharitable reactions and the way anger was coloring my life.

My penance was to pray specifically, by name, for those people I had come to resent.

It was pretty powerful!

I just received this penance yesterday.

I was told to go into every room in my house and to slowly look at everything in the room. To allow the memories associated with all of these things to come to mind and flood over me. I was to end up in my room and there spend some time in prayer praising God.

Since I am a terrible packrat, this was not a short penance! Needless to say, by the end of the exercise I had a much better appreciation of all of the Lord’s blessings in my life, even in those rough times that we all go through.

It was very evident that the material things did not have the most important value, but the personal relationships. I found myself being thankfully for my wonderful family - the love, the faith, the values they gave me. I asked the Lord to bless dozens of people - teachers from grade school through college, priests, college roommates, neighbors from my home town, etc.

And I ended by praying several Psalms that were full of praise and thanksgiving.


Pgh Kathy

Thanks for sharing it!

I haven’t ever received a best penance yet.
My longest was reciting the rosary. I enjoyed that. Shouldn’t penance at least require some out of the ordinary effort?

Even as a kid, i never thought my penance was enough for all my sins.

I’ll second that!!:thumbsup:

Cool story from the OP.

I find that often my penances are just what I need at the time. Sometimes fasting. Sometimes prayer.

One time when I mentioned something about the kids in my class my penance was to pick the most difficult child and pray for him. That put things in a different light.

When I confessed that my husband and I were disagreeing on matters of faith with the kids - my penance was to thank God for all the ways that we DO agree and thank Him for the things we are able to give our children because of our uniquenesses.

I love threads about the power of confession - it is a beautiful sacrament.

My favorite penance thus far was a couple of weeks ago. I had (and still am) struggling with a lot of pain and hurts from my past. It was the first time that I had ever cried in confession with my regular confessor - it is just really hard for me to talk about these things.

So - his penance for me was to recite a decade of the rosary. As I said the rosary I was to call to mind a time in my past which I was hurt - and to go back to that place with Mary - asking her to me my Mother and to comfort me during that time.

When he first started to describe my penance - about recalling a deep wound from the past - the first thing I thought of was a time that my Mom really hurt me. As he finished describing the penance - and about asking Mary to be my Mother and to comfort me - I was obviously reaching for the tissues. :bighanky:

It was just so beautiful.

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