The Hail Mary and penance


#1

Just a quick question for you all.

What form does the penance imposed on one during reconciliation take? Is it common for prayer to be imposed? May a priest require the penitent to include the Hail Mary in these prayers? If so why is this the case, if devotion to Mary is voluntary and is not enforced by the Church how can someone who does not practice Marian devotion be required to do just that?

Thanks


#2

[quote=levi86]Just a quick question for you all.

What form does the penance imposed on one during reconciliation take? Is it common for prayer to be imposed? May a priest require the penitent to include the Hail Mary in these prayers? If so why is this the case, if devotion to Mary is voluntary and is not enforced by the Church how can someone who does not practice Marian devotion be required to do just that?

Thanks
[/quote]

Penance could be anything, including prayer.
I don’t really understand your point though. I can’t imagine any Catholic objecting to saying a Hail Mary. That’s directly from the gospel.


#3

Prayers are commonly given as penance. Every penance I can recall being given has included prayers.

The Hail Mary, even the Rosary (complete or a number of decades) are sometimes given as penance.

Marian devotion is indeed a private devotion. Simply saying a few Hail Marys doesn’t constitute devotion, however. It is a simple prayer asking Mary to intercede for us: “Pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.” Devotion requires much more than a few prayers.

I see in your profile that you are a Catholic candidate. If it is simply praying to Mary that challenges you, you should be aware that we pray to Mary, and to all the saints, in the course of the Mass:

“…I ask Blessed Mary ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

If you have no problem with saying this during the Mass, the Hail Mary should not give you any pause.

Marian devotion is indeed a private matter. Marian prayer is part and parcel of the public tradtion of the Church.


#4

[quote=Lapsed]Prayers are commonly given as penance. Every penance I can recall being given has included prayers.

The Hail Mary, even the Rosary (complete or a number of decades) are sometimes given as penance.

Marian devotion is indeed a private devotion. Simply saying a few Hail Marys doesn’t constitute devotion, however. It is a simple prayer asking Mary to intercede for us: “Pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.” Devotion requires much more than a few prayers.

I see in your profile that you are a Catholic candidate. If it is simply praying to Mary that challenges you, you should be aware that we pray to Mary, and to all the saints, in the course of the Mass:

“…I ask Blessed Mary ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

If you have no problem with saying this during the Mass, the Hail Mary should not give you any pause.

Marian devotion is indeed a private matter. Marian prayer is part and parcel of the public tradtion of the Church.
[/quote]

Oh yes, I fully accept the concept of the intersession of saints and have no problem with asking Mary to pray for me, not that I do (the Church clearly states I don’t have to). However I can see myself taking issue with being given penance that consists of the rosary or the Hail Mary in general. I don’t see why one should be “forced” to pray the rosary if they (according to the Church) don’t have to. I’m not quite sure that one could say that reciting the rosary isn’t devotion; at what point does it become devotion? As far as I know the Hail Mary was designed specifically as a form of Marian devotion.


#5

[quote=levi86]Oh yes, I fully accept the concept of the intersession of saints and have no problem with asking Mary to pray for me, not that I do (the Church clearly states I don’t have to). However I can see myself taking issue with being given penance that consists of the rosary or the Hail Mary in general. I don’t see why one should be “forced” to pray the rosary if they (according to the Church) don’t have to. I’m not quite sure that one could say that reciting the rosary isn’t devotion; at what point does it become devotion? As far as I know the Hail Mary was designed specifically as a form of Marian devotion.
[/quote]

The Rosary is a gospel prayer that is centred on Christ.


#6

[quote=levi86]Oh yes, I fully accept the concept of the intersession of saints and have no problem with asking Mary to pray for me, not that I do (the Church clearly states I don’t have to). However I can see myself taking issue with being given penance that consists of the rosary or the Hail Mary in general. I don’t see why one should be “forced” to pray the rosary if they (according to the Church) don’t have to. I’m not quite sure that one could say that reciting the rosary isn’t devotion; at what point does it become devotion? As far as I know the Hail Mary was designed specifically as a form of Marian devotion.
[/quote]

If you truly have a problem with a penance given you by a confessor, then by all means discuss it with him before leaving the confessional. He may give you an alternative or explain to you why he has given you a particular penance. He would certainly know more about it than I would!

The Hail Mary developed over time, as did the Rosary. If you are really interested in the history, just google them.

The first portion is a quote from Luke 1:28: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

The next line is from Luke 1:42 “And she (Elizabeth) cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

The “holy” in “Holy Mary” is a rendering of the Latin “sancta,” which is also rendered as “saint”. “Mother of God” is derived from the Greek term “Theotokos,” which is one of the dogmas related to Mary, recognizing her position as the mother of Jesus, Who is indeed God.

So the Hail Mary is essentially a quotation of the Bible and acknowledgement of her unique relationship with God, followed by a simple request for her intercession. Praying the Hail Mary also fulfills the prophecy spoken by Mary herself in Luke 1:48: “Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

I have trouble understanding why a Catholic wouldn’t want Christ’s own mother to plead their cause in His ear. But then we are all called to Christ in the ways He wants.


#7

[quote=levi86]Oh yes, I fully accept the concept of the intersession of saints and have no problem with asking Mary to pray for me, not that I do (the Church clearly states I don’t have to). However I can see myself taking issue with being given penance that consists of the rosary or the Hail Mary in general. I don’t see why one should be “forced” to pray the rosary if they (according to the Church) don’t have to. I’m not quite sure that one could say that reciting the rosary isn’t devotion; at what point does it become devotion? As far as I know the Hail Mary was designed specifically as a form of Marian devotion.
[/quote]

Honestly I’d recommend that you read St. Louis de Montfort’s book “True Devotion to Mary” for help. His Holiness John Paul II said great things about this book!

That was the first book I read about Mary when I was wanting to learn about the Catholic faith as a Baptist. It goes to the nitty gritty of Catholic devotion to Our Lady. St. Louis de Montfort talks of devotion to Mary and why, though the Church doesn’t force it, it is indeed necessary.

Jesus gave us his mother as our mother also. God chose to send Jesus to us through Mary two thousand years ago. St. Louis de Montfort explains why today we should honour this by giving our selves in today’s time to Christ through his Blessed Mother.

As for the “Ave Maria” being a form of Marian devotion. I would argue that it is above all a Christocentric devotion. When we say “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum” Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, we above all honour and worship Him who made Mary sinless. When we say “benedicta tu in mulieribus” blessed art though among women, we honour God who made Mary blessed among women. When we say “et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus” and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus, we honour and pay worship to Jesus who humbled himself to become God in the womb of a woman.

When we pray “Sancta Maria mater Dei” Holy Mary Mother of God, we do proclaim our belief that Jesus is true God and true man. We worship God and praise his Holy Name for humbling himself to be born of a virgin. When we pray “ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae” pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. we humble ourselves before our Lord and admit our fault and sins, we also use the example that God gave us when he came to us through Mary two thousand years ago by going back to him through the intersession of Our Most Blessed Mother; she whom I love and honour above all women!

O Holy Mary! My heart burns with love and devotion to thee! Wouldst that all would honour thee and thy most immaculate heart. For by honouring thee, though wilt bring us only closer and closer to thy most Holy Son, our Lord Jesus.


#8

[quote=AugustineFL]Honestly I’d recommend that you read St. Louis de Montfort’s book “True Devotion to Mary” for help. His Holiness John Paul II said great things about this book!

[/quote]

I’d also like to add that this book gives the layout for a devotion to Mary at the end, which is far more than praying a 5-10 Hail Mary’s.

As a comparison, a priest could prescribe that you sit in Eucharist Adoration for 5-10 minutes, but this doesn’t imply a devotion to the Eucharist. Those who have such a devotion usually spend a set amount of time in meditation before it every week (one hour a day for example).

Both are approved practices, optional devotions.


#9

[quote=levi86]Just a quick question for you all.

What form does the penance imposed on one during reconciliation take? Is it common for prayer to be imposed? May a priest require the penitent to include the Hail Mary in these prayers? If so why is this the case, if devotion to Mary is voluntary and is not enforced by the Church how can someone who does not practice Marian devotion be required to do just that?

Thanks
[/quote]

Tell the priest that you are converting and that you are uncomfortable with the Hail Mary. He’ll give you something else. BTW, you do know the Hail Mary is a virtual quote from the Gospel of Luke, right?

Your brother in Christ.


#10

[quote=levi86]Oh yes, I fully accept the concept of the intersession of saints and have no problem with asking Mary to pray for me, not that I do (the Church clearly states I don’t have to). However I can see myself taking issue with being given penance that consists of the rosary or the Hail Mary in general. I don’t see why one should be “forced” to pray the rosary if they (according to the Church) don’t have to. I’m not quite sure that one could say that reciting the rosary isn’t devotion; at what point does it become devotion? As far as I know the Hail Mary was designed specifically as a form of Marian devotion.
[/quote]

Since you don’t have a problem with it theologically, and it’s just a matter of preference, how about considering it an opportunity for self-denial, and, umm, penance? :smiley:

Yes, you may cite your discomfort to the priest and even request another penance but Catholics also love to “offer up” things they don’t want to do but have to. It’s a great chance for us to shed our self-centeredness so there’s more room for Christ.


#11

I’m almost disappointed. In every movie/TV show when someone goes to confession they are told to say 10 Hail Mary’s and an Our Father. (except in those daft films where someone in the confessional gets shot or the back opens to a secret room!)

That’s never happened to me. I’ve not yet been told to say a single Hail Mary as part of penance.

A priest at confession recently did ask me if I had a Bible. I thought that was sad. Back in protestant days that wouldn’t have been a question asked as everyone had a Bible. It’s sad that there are so many Catholics here without one.


#12

[quote=levi86]Just a quick question for you all.

What form does the penance imposed on one during reconciliation take? Is it common for prayer to be imposed? May a priest require the penitent to include the Hail Mary in these prayers? If so why is this the case,** if devotion to Mary is voluntary ** and is not enforced by the Church how can someone who does not practice Marian devotion be required to do just that?

Thanks
[/quote]

I just want to make one clarification in what you wrote above. Devotion to Mary, is not voluntary. It is more a matter of degree. For example, there are Holy Days of Obligation (ie Feast of Immaculate Conception) that are focused on Mary. Most specific devotions are voluntary, when you think about it, except those that take place during the liturgy.

Many penances are given that are intended to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. They make you think, though, and focus on why you need Confession in the first place. I was once given a penance to read a book that was not at all enjoyable. :eek: While you may not embrace Marian devotions in your daily prayer life, there is nothing about the Hail Mary or the Rosary that is in the realm of “Catholics are free to disagree”. That’s not the kind of “optional” that is referred to when speaking of the Rosary. Anything that isn’t against Catholic teaching, would be fair material for a penance. One of the points of the Sacrament of Confession is that you accept the penance with an attitude of humility and obedience even if you don’t understand the specific reason for the penance itself.


#13

[quote=asteroid]That’s never happened to me. I’ve not yet been told to say a single Hail Mary as part of penance.
[/quote]

The parish priest where I grew up, as far as I can recall, always asigned me an Our Father and three Hail Marys.


#14

When I came into the Church, I told my confessor that I felt my devotion to Our Lady was defective, for a Catholic. He said: give it time, and encouraged me to read Lumen gentium.

The only time he ever assigned the Hail Mary as a penance was when I had come to a much better understanding of it from reading an excellent little book by Robert Llewellyn (an Anglican priest of all things), A Doorway to Silence: the Contemplative Use of the Rosary.

My penace that day was: One . . . . Hail . . . Mary.

The first time I came to him in confession, he asked me to meditate on the Beatitudes. The second time he asked me to scour the New Testament for all the references to Peter and discover what turned him from a flawed, impetuous man into a martyr for Christ.


#15

[quote=Lapsed]The parish priest where I grew up, as far as I can recall, always asigned me an Our Father and three Hail Marys.
[/quote]

This is exactly what I was concerned about, three Hail Marys to one Our Father. I’m fine with some Hail Marys but in the right proportions. I know it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but the penance Lapsed speaks of seems out of proportion to me, if a Catholic was to commit 75% of their prayer life to Mary it would seem somewhat excessive right? so why should a penance be so disproportionate?


#16

[quote=Lapsed]The parish priest where I grew up, as far as I can recall, always asigned me an Our Father and three Hail Marys.
[/quote]

This is exactly what I was concerned about, three Hail Marys to one Our Father. I’m fine with some Hail Marys but in the right proportions. I know it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but the penance Lapsed speaks of seems out of proportion to me, if a Catholic was to commit 75% of their prayer life to Mary it would seem somewhat excessive right? so why should a penance be so disproportionate?

Also after reading everyone’s posts here I’ve noticed that the penances some people receive seem to be somewhat mild, do any of you ever feel as though you’ve been let off too lightly?


#17

[quote=levi86]This is exactly what I was concerned about, three Hail Marys to one Our Father. I’m fine with some Hail Marys but in the right proportions. I know it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but the penance Lapsed speaks of seems out of proportion to me, if a Catholic was to commit 75% of their prayer life to Mary it would seem somewhat excessive right? so why should a penance be so disproportionate?

Also after reading everyone’s posts here I’ve noticed that the penances some people receive seem to be somewhat mild, do any of you ever feel as though you’ve been let off too lightly?
[/quote]

CCC 1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.62 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.”

CCC 1460 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.


#18

[quote=levi86]This is exactly what I was concerned about, three Hail Marys to one Our Father. I’m fine with some Hail Marys but in the right proportions. I know it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but the penance Lapsed speaks of seems out of proportion to me, if a Catholic was to commit 75% of their prayer life to Mary it would seem somewhat excessive right? so why should a penance be so disproportionate?
[/quote]

Look at it this way. . . The Our Father is an acknowledgement of God as the Holy Father, Provider, protector etc. The Hail Mary is a request for prayer (Pray for us now and at the hour of our death).

Three does represent the Trinity, perhaps the three Hail Mary’s are requests for Mary to pray for you to each of the three persons in the Trinity.

Also, if you **really **want to split hairs the Hail Mary is shorter than the Our Father so maybe three of them is equal to one Our Father :smiley:


#19

[quote=levi86]This is exactly what I was concerned about, three Hail Marys to one Our Father. I’m fine with some Hail Marys but in the right proportions. I know it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but the penance Lapsed speaks of seems out of proportion to me, if a Catholic was to commit 75% of their prayer life to Mary it would seem somewhat excessive right? so why should a penance be so disproportionate?

Also after reading everyone’s posts here I’ve noticed that the penances some people receive seem to be somewhat mild, do any of you ever feel as though you’ve been let off too lightly?
[/quote]

If you think that 3 Aves to one Pater Noster is too many Aves try re-reading my above post. You praise God, Father, Son & Holy Ghost, when you pray your Aves. Honouring the Mother of God greatly honours Him. Asking Mary for prayers is a wonderful way to pray to Jesus.

Read what some of the Saints have said about devotion to Mary, you should find it very helpful.

If it makes you feel more comfortable you don’t have to limit the penance imposted to what you say. If you are assigned 3 Aves and 1 Pater Noster then by all means feel free to say three each. Or if you like, pray fifty Our Fathers and three Aves. You still fulfil the penance.

As to feelling the penance imposed is too light. Yes sometimes I do. I have one priest that ALWAYS gives me a penance of 3 Aves and 3 Pater nosters. However, to balance it a bit I have another priest I confess to that likes to assign me 25 of each for almost anything.


#20

When you go to Confession the priest is the representative of Christ. You will be receiving forgiveness for your sins. Why should you question your penance? No penance given contradicts any Church teaching. The penitent should not question the type of penance given or question if it it too severe or too light. Remember humility and obedience.


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