Couldn't do my penance. Now what?


#1

Background: I confess weekly, on Fridays, late in the afternoon. My parish has Adoration for two hours every Friday evening except during school vacation periods. I always go to Friday Adoration when it’s available, and I always stay for the entire two hours. I am the sacristan who prepares the chapel for Adoration, so I have a key to the church.

I have not been able to catch up with my confessor to ask this question and he will be away this coming Friday (I’m confessing to a different priest this week), so I hope he’s not the only person who can answer it!

Last Friday (April 12th), I received as penance something I was supposed to do during Adoration that evening. My confessor was very specific about it having to be that evening. So I went to Adoration; lo and behold, the priest who was supposed to expose the Blessed Sacrament never showed up. Half an hour into the Adoration period I was alone in an empty church. My instructions when that happens are to put everything away (monstrance, corporal, tabernacle key), lock up the church, and leave. That’s exactly what I did.

But…because there was no Adoration, I couldn’t do my penance. I’m not sure what to do now…? :confused:


#2

If you confess your sins and the priest absolves you, your sins are forgiven. Through nothing of your own fault, you couldn’t fulfill the penance that the priest gave you. Next confession, let the priest know what happened. :slight_smile:


#3

Wait a minute, can’t you go to the church and the tabernacle?? What is the difference? It is GOD, no metal casing will keep him away.


#4

Oh, I know I’ve been absolved and my sins have been forgiven. There was never a question of that. But I was also assigned a penance that I couldn’t fulfill. I will speak with the priest on Friday at confession. Thanks :thumbsup:

The difference is that I was clearly and precisely instructed to do something before the exposed Blessed Sacrament at Adoration, not in front of the Real Presence in the tabernacle. I’m trying to be obedient here. To my knowledge I cannot simply change my penance without first speaking to the priest who gave it to me. It would be different if I couldn’t remember what my penance was, or if I didn’t understand what the priest said (something that has happened to me in the recent past, as I don’t confess in my native language). But I can, and I did. Or is that not even a consideration? I don’t know, which is why I asked the question in the first place. :slight_smile:


#5

Why can't you do your penance at the next Adoration? We are not expected to do the impossible. Just do what you can do and don't worry about it. You did not deliberately disobey the priest, it's not a sin, just do it when you can.


#6

I think that any priest can dispense or change ones penance if there is a reasonable problem in performing the original penance. In any case the priest you next confess to will know and get you straight.


#7

As my canon lawyer friends like to say: no one is obliged to do the impossible. :slight_smile:


#8

My gratitude for all these responses :cool:

Because my instructions were specific: it was supposed to be Adoration that evening.

Ah, sorry, left out one detail: we’re in a school vacation period right now. It began April 13th, the day after my last confession. :stuck_out_tongue: Next Adoration isn’t until May 3rd. If I can’t pin down my confessor before he leaves for the weekend, I will ask the priest who hears my confession on Friday if I should just wait until then, or do something else, or go to (a perhaps shorter) Adoration elsewhere.

At the time the penance was assigned, we didn’t know it was going to be impossible.

I’m not worried. :slight_smile: I just want to know what I should do, and for that I will ask either my confessor or the poor priest who will hear my confession on Friday.

It never occurred to me that this might be a sin, since it was out of my control. Again, I will ask a priest.

Okay, I didn’t know that. Would it still be preferable to get with the priest who gave it to me, if I can?

Thanks!


#9

You do nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.

Doomed.

On an unrelated note, “facetious” is one of two words in the English language in which every vowel appears exactly once each and in alphabetical order.


#10

Which is why you’re not held to it, if it turns out to be impossible to complete. :wink:

If there was something ‘special’ about that particular instance of Adoration, that’d be one thing. However, if the priest was telling you to do something, and not delay, then his choice of wording was simply imprudent: it made you feel like it had to happen at a particular time, when really, it was offered in a way to help you feel a sense of urgency about completing your penance. Clearly, you feel that sense of urgency. Go and do your penance, as the opportunity presents itself and when you are able to do so.

I’m not worried. :slight_smile: I just want to know what I should do, and for that I will ask either my confessor or the poor priest who will hear my confession on Friday.

Mention it to your confessor at your next confession, if it makes you feel more at ease. “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to complete the penance from my last confession, although I intend to do so at the earliest time possible” might be one way of putting it. Don’t sweat it. :wink:

It never occurred to me that this might be a sin, since it was out of my control.

It isn’t.

Okay, I didn’t know that. Would it still be preferable to get with the priest who gave it to me, if I can?

If you feel the need to do so, then ok. Otherwise, no, it’s not a requirement. He gave you a penance, you’re fulfilling it as soon as you are able… end of story. :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="aemcpa, post:9, topic:323245"]
You do nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.

Doomed.

[/quote]

Ha ha.

I'm a girl.

[quote="aemcpa, post:9, topic:323245"]
On an unrelated note, "facetious" is one of two words in the English language in which every vowel appears exactly once each and in alphabetical order.

[/quote]

What's the other?


#12

Hardly sufficient cause for me to change the meme (more than I already did, anyway).

“Abstemious”.


#13

Okay, his exact (translated) words were “Do this at Adoration this evening.” He did not say “do this at Adoration without delay” or “as soon as possible” or anything similar—he specifically said “this evening.” So far, the appropriate way forward seems to be either ask a priest, do what I can, or do nothing. I will see what Friday’s priest says, unless I can find my confessor to ask him before then.

Not confessing to my confessor again until April 26th, but I will ask another priest at my next confession on April 19th.

Not sweating it. :slight_smile:

I know!

I don’t know if “need” is the right word, but I’ll ask anyway. If I end up asking the priest on Friday instead of my confessor, that will be fine. The former knows the latter very well and he will know what was intended.

Thank you :slight_smile:


#14

Sorry, didn’t know you were referring to a meme. I am meme-ignorant. :blush:

Thanks. Ya learn something new every day.


#15

Gene Wilder ftw

Keep that in your back pocket (if you have a back pocket, being a girl and all), along with “sequoia” - the shortest word with all five vowels.


#16

“You mean that there aren’t three?” he asked, facetiously. “Or even four?”, he continued, reaching for his hamburger, ignorant of the virtue of being abstentious on Fridays.


#17

Adding -ly is cheating. I guess you have me on the other; although they are technically alternate forms of the same adjective, they are two different words.


#18

sigh. You know, if I was in my right mind, I would’ve known that. Oh, if only I possessed eunoia. Maybe I need better back-pockets… :rolleyes:


#19

Doesn’t matter. A person is not obliged to do the impossible. :slight_smile:

If you left to visit a foreign land thinking that you could find a Mass to fulfill your Sunday obligation, but upon arrival found no churches to attend, you would-- despite your previous belief that you would be able-- not be obligated to attend Mass. Why? Because no one is obliged to do the impossible. :slight_smile:

Good, because it was not a sin. :slight_smile:

:thumbsup:


#20

[quote="Gorgias, post:18, topic:323245"]
sigh. You know, if I was in my right mind, I would've known that. Oh, if only I possessed eunoia. Maybe I need better back-pockets... :rolleyes:

[/quote]

All these years I've been lied to. My 12th grade English teacher has some explaining to do. Thanks for this. Although he would probably respond, "That's a Greek word."


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