So, I’ve been wondering this for awhile, and the answers I’ve found online have been insufficient: Where is penance in the NT? Most articles I look up mix up the act of penance with penitence and repentance; no, I’m looking for stuff like you’d see in the Old Testament. I can’t remember specific events at the moment, but I do know that sacrificing animals was a form of it. However, we don’t do that anymore because of Christ’s sacrifice. However, shouldn’t that apply to penance as well? And nearly every time I see penance mentioned in the Bible, the majority of other versions say “repent” instead of “do penance,” i.e. Luke 13:3.
Does the idea of penance render Christ’s sacrifice insufficient?
You want to do away with the Sacrament of Confession?
Here’s Jesus on the Sacrament of Confession:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
(St. Matthew 16:18-19)
Jesus institutes His Church on Cephas/Peter–part of what is being Delegated is the Authority to bind and loosen. Clearly, having the key and the ability to bind and loosen may not mean much in the scheme of things when regarding the Sacrament of Confession… could there be more?..:
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(St. John 20:21-23)
Now, this is part of the Great Commission: Forgive sins!
Why would Jesus Delegate to the Church the Authority to Forgive sins for which He has already given a blanket forgiveness?
Jesus did not forget that, as the Lamb of God, He came to take away the sins of the world… it is man who cannot seem to understand that Jesus Founded a Church and Gave His Authority to her so that His Sanctifying Grace may continue to Work on the world:
17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
(St. John 5:17)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (St. John 14:12)
One of the “Works” that Christ was doing was Forgiving sin:
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
(St. Luke 5:20-21)
…which brings us back to St. John 20:21: “as my Father has sent Me, I Am sending you.”)
But did the Apostles understand this Unfolding… did they not hold that the Crucifixion was a blanket forgiveness for all sins past, present, and future for all of the world–including all of the individuals?:
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 St. John 1:8-10)
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other (St. James 5:16a)
Jesus and the Apostles did not subscribe to a blanket “forgiveness” of man’s (humanity and the individual) sin.
The Church Practiced the Sacrament of Confession from her beginning:
Didache 4:14; 14:1
As early as 70 AD
Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life…. On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure. (stsophiaukrainian.cc/resources/ecfonconfession/
Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day
But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations. (newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm)
No no! I’m sorry, when I say penance I don’t mean reconciliation, but penance as in saying “x” amount of prayers after confession, if that makes any sense. Mostly what brought this question up is Our Lady of Fatima saying that we should do penance for the whole world. I mean, the prayers aren’t what bother me exactly, but more extreme things like the cilice and self-flagellation.
I’m sorry if this is coming out garbled, I drank too much caffeine lol.
…sorry; I’ve been encountering this rejection of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the desire to rid the Church of it by “Catholics” that I jumped to demonstrate the need of the Sacrament.
…now what you are asking is about making amends… the Sacrament of Reconciliation Absolves us of our sin; the Church instituted a practice to demonstrate that we are truly contrite and want to restore our Union with God; so a personal sacrifice offer (penance) was instituted… in them days some very Saintly people made extreme mandates on the Repentant sinner… so much so that they could cause strife between a family (7 years doing “xyz” or “bread and water for xyz time”); it got so extreme that people ran from the Sacrament…
Now what you are mixing up is penance (modified today [extremely, I would say] to 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Gloria Patri…) with self-denial and other religious disciplines which includes self-flagellation; this latter is not in anyway associated with the Sacrament of Confession–it was usually done in the past as the Saints would attempt to mortify their bodies in order to refrain from even having temptations…
…as far as I know, not a single Catholic Priest has demanded anything but simple gestures of penance/amendment (although these required that we attempt to undo as much of the damage we would have caused by our sin/s as possible); I can’t recall a single person complaining that he/she had to restore anything or compensate for anything… but that I leave between the penitent and his/her Confessor…
Sorry, again for the exercise in searching the Scriptures… o:o
We do know that in the early church, many penitents were required to complete their penance before absolution was given. I suppose an important thing to keep in mind is that penance is seen as medicine for the soul. We don’t just want to cover up our illness, we want to treat it, to improve our soul, to correct it. Penance is not just about satisfying God, it’s about correcting and healing ourselves for the future. The penance is your medicine and is separate from the absolution.
A1b 1 Cor 9:24-27: “Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air: But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.”
A1c Matthew 3:6-8: “And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance.” (No doubt there are more, but these two popped to mind.)
Answer 2 Let’s talk about “sacrifice,” i.e. depriving/ridding ourselves of something of value, or something we desire? “Penance” means a couple of things: “external acts such as fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, as well as internal changes: a conversion of the heart toward God and away from sin, which implies the intention to change one’s life because of hope in divine mercy” (CCC p 892).
Also, when thinking of “sacrifice,” consider these verbs too: immolate, offer, consecrate, dedicate, devote; give, hand over, surrender, & yield.
In the Old Testament, Jews would sacrifice something of value to God – animals, as you mentioned.
Now, we still offer up things of value, or things we prize, things we might think are “ours” in various ways. Along with that, there is “ascesis: the practice of penance, mortification, and self-denial to promote greater self-mastery and to foster the way of perfection by embracing the way of the cross” (CCC p. 867).
Answer 3 Because of Christ, yes you are right. “The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the centre of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished ‘once for all’ by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ” (CCC 571).
Answer 4 Nope. Check this out: “Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul” (Matthew 16:24-26)?
And from one of our Church Fathers, Ignatius Bishop of Antioch: “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ” (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).
Lastly, how about this: "Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.” The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father" (CCC 1459-60).
I left off penance (self-denial) as a means for the acquisition of virtues. Our Catechism has just wonderful things on that.