The Real Meaning of Penance

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

John the Baptist said: “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) A footnote in the Bible says: “Penance: Which word, according to the use of the scriptures and the holy fathers, does not only signify repentance and amendment of life, but also punishing past sins by fasting, and such like penitential exercises.”

Dear friends,

Before we consider the above, We would like to remind everyone that Saturday, December 7th is the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, a day of fast and partial abstinence. Wednesday, December 18, is Ember Wednesday with the customary fasting and partial abstinence. Friday and Saturday (20 and 21) of that week are also Ember Days with the Customary fasting. Abstinence is full on Fridays as it is on all Fridays, and partial on Saturday.

Penance here consists of three things. The first is repentance of our sins, which is a good things to remember in this penitential season of Advent. And so repent of your sins and confess them to a priest sent from God. The next essential step is amendment of our life. The Fathers of the Church tell us that conversion is a complete change of customs and habits. Go now and sin no more, Jesus advised two different people in the Gospels.

Once we have repented and asked God to help us change our customs and habits in order to amend our life, then we are ready to undertake penitential exercises. These go beyond the weak fast laws of today and should be tailored to bring our body into subjection. (I Corinthians 9:27)

When we read the word penance let us remember what it truly means.

Have a Blessed Advent,

+Michael pp

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