Perpetual penance?


On one of the occasions that I went to confession in recent times, for my penance I was told to pray a Hail Mary if thought X crosses my mind, and to recite the Apostle’s Creed if thought Y crosses my mind.

I have done this since that confession.

My confessor did not specify whether this penance is temporary or not. Therefore, I don’t know whether this is something I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life (i.e. always respond to thoughts X or Y with the prayer or creed).

Not that it isn’t a good idea to (the penance is very helpful). I’m simply inquiring as to whether it is perpetually obligatory.


This is an example of a bad penance. It can’t be a perpetual penance, as that would be too onerous on you. My advice to you would be to go to another priest, explain your “penance” to him and have him assign you a different, more concrete penance (ie: 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Mary’s for the Conversion of sinners, or something.)

You might find this interesting and helpful. You are not alone in the weird penance group.


I would clarify it with the same priest at your next confession. He probably was attempting to build a good habit within you. He might have mentioned a time frame that you did not hear, or maybe he forgot to mention it. Either way, he is the one to clarify it for you, as I see it.


It may not have been a penance but a suggestion to help you grow in virtue. In time, it is hoped, the 'penance' would not exist as such thoughts would never enter your mind as you have moved beyond that sin, to whatever is tempting you today.

There were sins I committed when young that I would never consider today. My sins have changed as I have matured.

As a priest told me, whenever he finally overcomes a sin he can look back and see his finger marks on the floor where he was dragged screaming "I don't want to give it up". But feels much better now that that sin is done. Of course he then turns around and sees all the sins that were hiding behind that sin and the struggle continues.


It might be that he hopes that by doing this you manage to get rid of your thought in time.

Earlier this year I was given a book to read. That was the penance. But I could see that practical advice in the book was worthwhile. That isn’t the penance. Then penance was reading the book. but one can get so mixed up if one isn’t paying attention. Ealier on again I was told after a question or two to rejoin the choir. That was the penance. Whether the choir would have me back or whether I would stick it out again etc isn’t the penance. The penance was to rejoin and I did that bit. But again it could be misconstrued into staying with the choir against all odds etc and may sound like a perpetual penance like given me the book to read. Even the scripture is full of advice if we read it carefully and again could end up being perpetual penance if we are not careful

No its not perpetual penance but if you find it does work and you are not being too stressed by it then continue the technique, not as penance but simply because its helping you as the book is helping me at times. Its not to be carried out as penance but as a geuine aide to help you gain a bit of quality in life. Possibly drop it if it not working, adopt it if it is working because you have carried out the penance part of it. If you are unsure then go back to that priest in confession if possible and ask him about it. It may be that you got something a little mixed up like I could have understood the advice in the book to be penance rather than reading the book or like I could think that staying with the choir was the penance rather than rejoining. Its so easy for us not to hear what was actually said in the moment of it all so if you are in doubt its probably best to go back to that priest and ask him if you want to clear it up for yourself unless its working and you not too stressed by it then keep doing so but not as perpetual penance but as simply because it working for you:D


[quote="englishredrose, post:5, topic:294618"]
It might be that he hopes that by doing this you manage to get rid of your thought in time.


Quite right. The point of the penance is to rid oneself of the poor habit. Habits are reported to take, what, two weeks to change? The method given or suggested is only the means by which we carry the penance out. As well, God will not assign a penance without also providing the graces to accomplish the task. Struggling through one's penance is cooperating with that grace. God's grace plus our cooperation is intended to bring about the needed change within us.


sez i who failed my penance request if i er hic hic remember the book i was given which indeed did give me very good advice and actually allowed me access to my current way of praying so I use it but not conciously which i suppose mayn’t mean i failed as such as been able to apply it to other situations.
It is very hard work to change ones thoughts. It is however 100% possible that we can control our own thoughts but hard work. The aids are there to help us in those times we feel it too hard but if we really want to change them - we will do. They won’t completely go away and we to be on our guard for when they slip in but we can do a lot to help ourselves if we sincerly want to change them. Overnight - two weeks or two years its different for each of us how quickly we get to change them and there will be errors along the way but the thing is that we to be ever the alert for when the creep in, to up the exercise we have used to disperse them. I know how hard it is as I regulary forget and its easier to slip into old thought habits. But no one can do it for us but they can guide us and we can lean on them in the tougher times but we essentially have to do the work.

peace be with you:)


** I had a similar penance at one point. In fact this penance kept me from receiving the Sacrament way over my regular weeks, since I felt I never fulfilled the initial one. I felt I had to confess that I was failing the never ending penance.

I agree this is just a poor penance.

Now under Spiritual Direction this may be a point to work on - however not for a penance.**


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