Priest possibly giving a penance out of revenge



I apologized to a priest during confession about something I’d said to him about a year or more ago and he gave me a much heavier penance than usual - and the thing I’d apologized about was nowhere near as serious as some of the things I’d confessed during the time I’ve known him.

I know this is probably ridiculous and unhumble of me, but I feel like he wanted to get even with me for injuring his pride rather than have the attitude of healing that the sacrament of penance is supposed to have.

Been really bothered about this and would appreciate any charitable thoughts, comments, questions about this.

Thanks for listening. Please pray for me.


Maybe he did. I don't know what the penance was, though. If it's more prayer, that can't be a bad thing, can it?

Pray for him.


“Pray for those who persecute you”. I mean this in the most charitable way possible: so what? Penance is supposed to bring us back toward God. Do the penance, nothing bad can come of it. And then move on. If he did do this out of revenge, then he’ll have to answer for it on the day of judgement. If you continue to feel that he is giving you harsh penances out of revenge, then simply go to another confessor.


You have no way of knowing whether or not this is the case. I have received different “levels” of penance from the same priest on many occasions ranging from an Our Father to the entire Rosary to reading the Bible for an hour, and everything in between. Heck, maybe the priest was having a bad day or you were the 18th person he heard confess that sin on that particular day.

The simple thing to do is to perform the penance and, if you have lingering doubts about the motivation behind it, offer them up to Christ on behalf of the priest in question.

After that, let it go. You’ll feel better.



He almost certainly thought that this is what you wanted.


I've found that many priests go through phases in assigning penances. For a while they are heavier, and then they are lighter, and sometimes they are the straightforward "n Hail Marys", and other times they are more creative.

So, it may not have much to do with what you said, but at the moment he's assigning heavier penances to everyone.

Always, just be grateful for the sacrament of mercy, and for the priest who is there for you.


I agree that priests go in phases in giving penances. Perhaps it’s just that. Once my priest knew me better and he came to realize I prayed the rosary daily; he quit giving me any n Hail Mary’s. I hope you can do the penance and put this behind you.



It could be that God has used this occasion to highlight
that without factually knowing the other person’s intention,
you, like any of us may, fall into the trap the worst regarding their motives.

God, through him, may be trying to remind you and us of the need
to give others the benefit of the doubt, rather than the worst or the negative interpretation.

If we practise consciously thinking the best of others’ intentions,
we may find we are less hurt what others say or do.

You may like to say a prayer for the priest in case he was acting out of resentment.
Priests also are a fallible human persons who needs others’ prayers


I just came from another post of yours and I think you have a peculiar way of relating to priests :smiley: In the confessional, you are confessing to Christ, since the priest acts in persona Christi. Whatever penance he gave you, if in accordance with God’s will (as I am sure it is/was), you ought to carry it out as if the Lord himself had given it to you.

And the penance is not meant for healing, but for reparation of an offense to God in order to obtain from God the remission of the temporal punishment deserved (while the healing part took place when the priest, or, rather, Christ through the priest, absolved you and thus remitted the eternal punishment and granted you sanctifying grace again, by the merits of Christ himself). Whatever the penance, it would never be as painful as a day in Purgatory, whose flames do burn just as much as those of hell :sad_yes:

You know, if you had a spiritual director, you should mention these thoughts to him, because they may not be sinful per se but they certainly are peculiar temptations :shrug: Perhaps you may want to consider spiritual direction to further grow in the devout life.


Perhaps he also wanted you to become aware that whilst it took you a long time to go to confession with that apology whilst he is a priest, he is human too and just wanted to let you feel how much your comment meant to him over the year and may have been genuinely hurt by your comment and have spent reflective time over it himself and even taken it to his own confessional and may have been a suggested way forward for if you did get back to him and he may be admiring you too that even after so long, you had remembered and got back to him with the right action. Lots of ifs and mays there but he is but human which we do tend to forget and he may well have just simply given out of own feeling to help you understand that too he feels just as much whether it is right or wrong in actual practice.

Okay Im Anglican but the current priest has given me more meaningful penances since other ones, though as other posters have mentioned, he got to know me better than other priests have too, and knew how he could help and the penances were of help rather than just penance. So far certainly far more substantial.


It only takes one mortal sin to send you to Hell. If the priest gave you a particularly difficult penance and you are able to do it, just do it and be done with it. Let it go. Life is too short.


Well, try and look on the lighter side of life.

I think priests have a lot of discretion in the penances they prescribe, and use their own judgment.

However, on one occasion, I did run up against something like this. I confessed to poking fun at my parish priest* (not directly to him! He usually doesn’t hear confessions…), and I received 20 Our Fathers as penance, which was the heaviest I’d got in a while.

To put it mildly, I was rather amused. To this day, it’s become a bit of a running joke between my mother and I; when I’m tempted to make an uncharitable comment about him, I just say “20 Our Fathers” and we both have a good laugh. :smiley:

  • by calling him Grumpy because he often looks like that. I thought it was funny at the time. :frowning:


Are you really SURE that those other things were less serious than this thing you confessed this time? Perhaps not… I mean, what if you said something in front of another parishoner, and the priest knows that that parishoner left the catholic church because of what you said… if that is the case, then you are responsible for their possible spiritual murder, which is by FAR a very grave sin.

Obviously, I can’t comment on the specifics, since you haven’t given us any (nor do you need to), but my charitable thought is for your priest: he, and only he, is in a position to be the proper judge of the severeness of your sins and the correct penance to purge the effects of sin from your life. My charitable advice is to accept the penance as a good and holy spiritual work and to do it without thinking negative thoughts towards the priest. If you legitimately feel he overpenanced you, do the penance and then pray:

“My God, who is all deserving of every sacrifice,
it is my fervant prayer that my penance has satisfied You.
If it has not, I pray that you send the Holy Spirit to make me pure in Your eyes,
and if there be any additional grace from my penance I pray that You add it to the deposit of grace for the holy souls in purgatory.
And through Your grace, heal me of my desires to sin and help me to always bring You glory.”


If you think it was personal, begin seeing a different priest for Confession.

If possible, kneel behind the screen, focus on confessing to God through his priest.

Give the sin by name and number w/o details. For eg: “I spoke uncharitably to a priest one time.” Since “insulting” isn’t exactly the sin, I think that works, but someone else might be able to phrase it better.

Nothing hurts more than having ones confessor hurt your feelings – well, at least mine would be hurt. Like one of the wise posters above says, just do your penance and move on.


Thank you all, especially R_C, for your comments.

I keep hearing things pointing to the need of my gratitude instead of picking out the specks in others eyes and ignoring my own planks in the eye like it says in the Gospel.

Gosh pride is a difficult sin to overcome.

I will say a prayer for my parish priests who put up with more than I’ll ever know.

And again, thank you all for posting. I’m so blessed to be near all this collective wisdom.

Please pray for me.



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