Confession and Penance


Are prayers the only penance a priest can give anymore? Thanks.


No. I have been asked to perform an act of charity as a penance. (My confessor left up to me to decide what that act of charity would be.) Another confessor of mine asked me to spend five minutes looking at the crucifix while meditating on Our Lord’s passion. Personally I prefer being assigned a non-traditional penance. Buying a meal for a homeless person seems a lot more meaningful than simply silently praying 3 Hail Marys after receiving absolution, but that’s just me. To each his own …


My Priest often gives me a Penance of spending 15 minutes in Adoration. Since we have Adoration for 20 - 25 minutes prior to EVERY Mass, I can leave the Confessional and spend the time of Adoration as my Penance, and still have time before Mass to say a Rosary as my personal prayer time. Adoration ends 10 minutes prior to Mass, so I can fit both in. Sometimes he gives me a Penance of prayer (especially for Venial sins) and I do my Penance in the Adoration also. I feel like I get an extra blessing this way!


Sometimes, one can be given penance of offering a mass. Also, some people are giving walking on their knees across the entire church, even across several, as a penance, here in Mexico, at least.

Penance can be almost anything, to tell someone you love them.

I heard that one of the saints gave a penance to someone confessing gossip to get a feather pillow, go outside, open it. The wind came by, blew all the feathers away. The penance was to get back every one of those feathers. The penitent couldn’t, so it gave a lesson on not gossiping next time, since even when was repentant, wanting to repair the damage, it would be almost impossible to fix after the fact, to go and gossip no more.


Last week the priest asked me, in addition to a few prayers, to look up and read Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Gaudium et Spes. I’m still working on it, it’s kind of slow going…


No, they’re just the most common. :slight_smile: I’ve been asked to offer a Mass for someone as penance, for example.


Clearwater: an excellent example of a penance which also teaches! I need to remember that one, and the occasion may come to use it in conversation.


That pillow and feathers thing is on YouTube…we used it for A LifeNight in LifeTeen lesson about abusing Social Media.


Thanks for mentioning as much. I just watched the video. It was beautiful. Here it is …


I forwarded this link on YouTube to my Priest, as we have a serious problem with the gossiping in our Parish, and our Priest teaches the teens in the next town, especially in preparation for Confirmation. He might use it if he watches it and likes it as well as I do. Sure glad I watched it!!! It will prevent me from getting a similar Penance for gossip, which I also do occasionally also. Don’t think I’ll do that particular sin again. Now that he has seen the video, I have a feeling he’ll use it as a Penance! That’s one Penance I really don’t want to get! LOL


I have been given different things to do as penance, too, over time.

As I recall, I have been given different kinds of prayers to read and reflect on–not just the Hail Mary or the Lord’s Prayer.

I have also been told to reflect on what had caused me to come to confession–the behavior that brought me there, for example.

I have been given various Bible passages to read, too.

I have also been told to perform an act of kindness for someone else, too.


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