Refusing to do an assigned penance


#1

I went to confession around the beginning of Lent, and the penance the priest gave me was to look at a crucifix every day during Lent and thank God for his mercy and forgiveness. I thought of asking him if he would be all right with assigning me a different penance, since I have a bad memory and knew I'd probably forget. However, I didn't.
Over the next few weeks, I forgot to do this for days at a time. I could have written myself a reminder, but I didn't. I honestly didn't make much of an effort at all to remember to say my penance.
What I'm struggling with is whether this would be considered as "refusing to do an assigned penance." I know I "intended to forget," if that makes sense - I knew I'd forget, and didn't plan on doing anything about it. I think I also intended not to do it at all, making some kind of excuse.

I've gone to confession numerous times since then, and confessed this, but I'm concerned that that first confession was bad, and therefore subsequent ones were as well. The problem is that I deal with scrupulosity, and the four or five confessions since then have been quite long. If I were to go back and confess everything, it would take forever.

I just feel stuck, and I'm just not sure what to do. I feel like this was probably a bad confession, but it's practically impossible for me to go back and confess everything since that confession. Could I hand the priest a list? Does anyone have any suggestions?


#2

What you describe doesn’t sound like refusal. It sounds like you tried and got discouraged. I think most people would with that kind of penance. People are awfully forgetful. That much is clear from just reading the Torah.

Since you confessed and intended to do the penance, your confession was valid. Then you confessed your failure, which was the correct thing to do. Did the second priest tell you what to do about the first penance? Did he give you a new one?


#3


#4

Sorry, don’t agree…the OP said that they thought of asking for a difference penance in the confessional since he ‘has a bad memory’ and would ‘probably forget’…(which are IMHO escape phrases for ‘I don’t care enough to want to remember this’…and I truly mean that in the most affectionate or at least constructive way! )
I agree with the poster who said it sounded like you might be discouraged by the ascribed penance instead of encouraged or inspired…but penance isn’t necessarily supposed to be easy or inspiring…is it? Sometimes forcing ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do and swallowing our pride and trudging through it builds character…no?
sorry, just my exhausted thoughts…g’night!
if you don’t agree, just read on to the next post…no arguing, please


#5

Since the OP has since confessed this failure I think that counts for something.


#6

:thumbsup:


#7

What you describe doesn’t sound like refusal. It sounds like you tried and got discouraged. I think most people would with that kind of penance. People are awfully forgetful. That much is clear from just reading the Torah.

Since you confessed and intended to do the penance, your confession was valid. Then you confessed your failure, which was the correct thing to do. Did the second priest tell you what to do about the first penance? Did he give you a new one?

The thing is, I’m not sure I really intended to complete the penance. I knew I’d forget, and I didn’t intend to do anything about that. I was struggling with other separate scruples at the time, though, so I don’t know how much I really deliberately thought, “I’m not going to do this.” I keep going back and forth between, “The confession was invalid because I didn’t really intend to do the penance,” and “Maybe it was valid because I didn’t really intend NOT to do the penance.” Sorry for all the rambling, guys - I just need to hash this out for myself.

I did confess this, but the priest really didn’t give me much advice, he just sort of let it go.


#8

Well, there you go. Done. Why are you still questionning something you’ve received sacramental absolution for? Trust your confessor.

But you can learn for next time…if your confessor gives you a penance you feel you will be unable to fulfill, then say so. Your confessor may change it, or he may tell you to make your best effort at it regardless.


#9

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