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Encyclopedia > Penance

Penance is repentance of sins, as well as the name of the Catholic Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. The word penance derives via Old French penance from the Latin poenitentia, the same root as penitence, which in English means repentance, the desire to be forgiven, see contrition; in many languages only one single word is derived. Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works." Look up penance in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories corresponding roughly to the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from around 1000 to 1300. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Saint Peter Repentant 1823-25 , Goya Contrition (from the Latin contritus ground to pieces, i. ...

Louis the Pious doing public penance at Attigny in 822

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Download high resolution version (674x622, 124 KB)Louis the Pious making penance at Attigny in 822. ... Download high resolution version (674x622, 124 KB)Louis the Pious making penance at Attigny in 822. ... Louis the Pious, contemporary depiction from 826 as a miles Christi (soldier of Christ), with a poem of Rabanus Maurus overlaid. ...

Sacramental penance

In a sacramental understanding of the term, "penance" applies to the whole activity from confession to absolution. Generally speaking, however, it is used to characterize the works of satisfaction imposed or recommended by the priest on or to the penitent. Traditionally, penance has been viewed as a punishment (the Latin poena, the root of pen(it)ance, means "punishment"), and varying with the character and heinousness of the offences committed. In the feudal era "doing penance" often involved severe and/or public discipline, which could be both harsh and humiliating but was considered edifying. Public penances have, however, long been abolished. Traditional forms still include prayers, while corporal punishments such as the wearing of a cilice and public humiliations have become rare, even in monastic practice. More recently, taking in account the insights of pastoral theology and psychology, penances have tended to move towards acts that positively or negatively reinforce the penitent's behaviour. It has been suggested that hairshirt be merged into this article or section. ... Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons (imprisonment was long unusual as a punishment, rather a method of coercion). ... In operant conditioning, reinforcement is an increase in the strength of a response following the presentation of a stimulus contingent on that response. ...


"Penance" also refers to acts that a believer imposes on him- or herself outside of the sacramental context. Penitential activity is particularly common during the season of Lent and Holy Week (mainly the Passion week, inspired by Christ's suffering; hence in some cultural traditions still including flagellantism or even voluntary crucifixion) and, to a lesser extent, Advent, when penance is often combined with acts of self-discipline, such as fasting, voluntary celibacy, or other privations. In the Roman Catholic tradition especially, such acts of self-injury are sometimes called mortification of the flesh because of the belief that an unrestrained corporeal body endangers salvation, unless controlled by the spirit, serving to detach the penitent of his worldly passions, as to draw him into closer union with God. It has been suggested that Cuaresma be merged into this article or section. ... Holy Week (Latin: ) in Christianity is the last week of Lent. ... ... Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution, where the condemned is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. ... Advent (from the Latin Adventus, implicitly coupled with Redemptoris, the coming of the Saviour) is a holy season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, also known as the season of Christmas. ... Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Flagellants mortifying the flesh, at the time of the Black Death Mortification of the flesh literally means putting the flesh to death. The term is primarily used in religious contexts, and is practiced in a variety of ways. ... For other uses, see Salvation (disambiguation). ...


Roman Catholicism

In the Catholic Church, the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (formerly called Confession), consists of three parts: contritio, confessio and satisfactio. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is popularly called Confession. ... Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church or preferably, the Catholic Church are efficacious signs, perceptible to the senses, of grace. ... This article is about the practice of confession in the Modern confessional in the Church of the Holy Name, Dunedin, New Zealand. ...


Contritio is in fact repentance as Protestant theologians understand it, i.e. love of God causing sorrow for sins committed, and long before the Reformation the schoolmen debated the question whether complete "contrition" was or was not in itself sufficient to obtain the Divine pardon. The Council of Trent decided, however, that no reconciliation could follow such contrition without the other parts of the sacrament, which form part of it (sine sacramenti voto, quod in ilia indudatur). Contrition is also distinguished from "attrition" (attritio), i.e. amoral repentance due to fear of punishment. It was questioned whether a state of mind thus produced would suffice for obtaining the benefits of the sacrament; this point was also set at rest by the Council of Trent, which decided that attrition, though not in itself capable of obtaining the justification of the sinner, is also inspired by God and thus disposes the soul to benefit by the grace of the sacrament. The Council of Trent is the Nineteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. ...


In this Sacrament, the penitent (repentant sinner, known as confessant) accuses himself of his sins to an ordained priest (known as confessor). The priest may then offer advice and imposes a particular penance to be performed. The penitent then prays an Act of Contrition, the priest administers absolution, thus formally forgiving the penitent of his sins, and finally sends him out with words of dismissal. Often, penitential acts consist simply of prayers, fasting, charitable work or giving, or a combination thereof. Such penance is frequently accompanied by a requirement for the penitent to be reconciled with anyone against whom he or she has sinned. The most common penances involve the recitation of standard prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary, meditation on particular scriptural passages, or praying the rosary with special penitential intentions. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Act of Contrition is a prayer recited by the penitent during the Latin Rite Roman Catholic sacrament of Confession. ... Absolution in a liturgical church refers to the pronouncement of Gods forgiveness of sins. ... The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Coptic Orthodox Pope · Roman Catholic Pope Archbishop of Canterbury · Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      Hail... Our Lady of Lourdes - Mary appearing at Lourdes with Rosary beads. ...


Eastern Orthodox Church

Penance, or Holy Confession as it is usually called, in the Eastern Orthodox Church has more in common with a psychiatric session than it does with the sacramental equivalents of other Christian Traditions. In Roman Catholicism, the goal of the sacrament of Penance is reconciliation with God, through means of justification. However, in Orthodoxy, the intention of the sacramental mystery of Holy Confession is to provide reconciliation with God, but through means of healing. Eastern Orthodoxy (also called Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy) is a Christian tradition which represents the majority of Eastern Christianity. ...


Similar to the Eastern Catholic Churches, in the Eastern Orthodox Church there are no confessionals either. Traditionally the confessant also stands or kneels before either the Icon of Christ the Teacher (to the viewers' right of the Royal Door) or in front of an Icon of Christ, or a Crucifix. This is to show humility before the whole church and before Christ. Once they are ready to start, the priest says, “Blessed is our God, always, now and for evermore,” reads the Trisagion Prayers and the 51st Psalm (50th Psalm in the Septuagint). The Trisagion (Thrice Holy) is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches. ... The Septuagint: A column of uncial text from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brentons Greek edition and English translation. ...


At this point, often the penitent and the priest, usually referred to as the Spiritual father, sit down together before the Icon. The priest then advises the penitent that Christ is invisibly present and that he or she should not be embarrassed or be afraid, but should open up his or her heart and reveal their sins so that Christ may forgive them. The penitent then accuses him or herself of his or her sins. The priest quietly and patiently listens. After the confessant reveals all of his or her sins, the priest then offers advice and counsel. The priest may modify the prayer rule of the penitent, or even prescribe another rule, if needed to combat the sins that the penitent struggles most with. Penances are usually given with a therapeutic intent, so that they are opposite to the sin committed.


For a hypothetical example, if the Eighth Commandment has been broken and the person has stolen something, then it could be prescribed that the he or she should return what was stolen (if possible) and give alms to the poor on a more regular basis. Opposites are to be treated with opposites. If the penitent suffers from gluttony, the confessant’s fasting rule is reviewed and perhaps increased. The intention of Holy Confession is never to punish, but to heal and purify. Holy Confession is also seen as a “second baptism.”


In Orthodoxy, Holy Confession is seen as a means to procure a better spiritual health and purity. Confession often does not always involve only stating the sinful things the person does; the good things, a person does or is considering doing, is also discussed. The approach is holistic, examining the full life of the confessant. The good works are never considered to earn one his or her salvation, but as part of a psychotherapeutic treatment to preserve salvation and purity. Sin is treated as a spiritual illness, or wound, that can only cured through Jesus Christ. The Orthodox belief is that in Confession, the sinful wounds of the soul are to be exposed and treated in the "open air" (in this case, the Spirit of God. Note the fact that the Greek word for Spirit, πνευμα, can be translated as "air in motion" or wind). The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus (breath). // The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath (compare spiritus asper), but also soul, courage, vigor, ultimately from a PIE root *(s)peis- (to blow). In the Vulgate, the Latin word translates Greek (πνευμα), pneuma (Hebrew (רוח) ruah), as...


Once the penitent has accepted the therapeutic advice and counsel freely given to him or her, by the priest then, placing his epitrachelion over the head of the confessant. The priest then prays the prayer of forgiveness over the penitent. In the prayer of forgiveness, the priests asks of God to forgive the sins committed. He then concludes by placing his hand on the head of the penitent and says, “The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit, through my insignificance, has loosened and granted to you forgiveness.” epitrachelion The Epitrachelion (from the Greek, επιτραχηλιον around the neck; often called simply a stole in casual English-language usage) is the liturgical vestment worn by priests and bishops of the Orthodox Church as the symbol of their priesthood, corresponding to the Western stole. ...


In condensed summary, the Priest then reminds the penitent that what he or she just received is a second baptism, through the Sacramental Mystery of Holy Confession. And that he or she should be careful not to defile this restored purity but also to do good and to hear the voice of the psalmist: “Turn from evil and do good.” But most of all, the priest urges the penitent to guard him or herself from sin and to commune as often as permitted. The priest then dismisses the repentant penitent in peace-- often with a fatherly, brief but warm and caring hug.


Symbol, not sacrament

Penance is also practiced in other Christian traditions, and is particularly stressed in traditions formed by a Calvinist or Zwinglian sensibility. The Reformers (e.g. Puritans), upholding the doctrine of justification by faith, held that repentance consisted in a change of the whole moral attitude of the mind and soul (Matthew 13:15; Luke 22:32), and that the divine forgiveness preceded true repentance and confession to God without any reparation of "works." As Calvin says in his piece Of Justification By Faith: "without forgiveness no man is pleasing to God." Rather, "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4, ESV); nonetheless, there has traditionally been a stress on reconciliation as a precondition to fellowship. In an unadorned church, the 17th century congregation stands to hear the sermon. ... Huldrych (or Ulrich) Zwingli (January 1, 1484 – October 10, 1531) was the leader of the Swiss Reformation and founder of the Swiss Reformed Churches. ...


Penance in non-Christian faith traditions

In some religions of Indian origin, acts of hardship committed on oneself (fasting, lying on rocks heated by the Sun, etc.), especially as part of an ascetic way of life (as monk or 'wise man') in order to attain a higher form of mental awareness (through detachment from the earthly, not punishing guilt) or favours from (the) god(s). Statue of Jain God Bahubali in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka attracts thousands of devotees. ...


Penance in art and fiction

  • Colin Kapp. 1972, 1973. Patterns of Chaos. New York: Award Books. No ISBN. Pp. 31-36.

Penance in movies: Colin Kapp (1928—) is the author of a number of science fiction novels and short stories. ...

I Confess is a 1953 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Montgomery Clift as Fr. ... Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock KBE (August 13, 1899 – April 29, 1980) was an iconic and highly influential British-born film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. ... Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 - July 23, 1966) was an American Academy Award-nominated actor known by the stage name of Montgomery Clift. ... Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 – December 12, 1985) was an Academy Award-winning American actress. ... The Reckoning is a murder-mystery set during the medieval period. ... Constantine is a 2005 American film loosely based on the Hellblazer comic book, with some plot elements being taken from the Dangerous Habits arc (issues #41-46). ... A superboss in a videogame is an optional major enemy of extreme difficulty. ... Final Fantasy X ) is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix), and the tenth installment in the Final Fantasy video game series; it was released in 2001, and is the first numbered Final Fantasy game for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console. ... The Mission is a 1986 British film about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in eighteenth century South America. ...

See also

The Christian movement known as the Penitents goes back to the 4th century. ... The Order of Friars Minor and other Franciscan movements are disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi. ...

Sources and references

(incomplete)

  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Getchwood- Curious Punishments of Baygone days
  • The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation(From the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
  • IMDB
  • John Calvin, Of JustificationFaith

  Results from FactBites:
 
BSP Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St Francis, Catholic Association (662 words)
They live the life of penance of the Rule of 1221 in their own homes, as that is how St. Francis wanted it.
It is a demanding lifestyle, of prayer, penance, and increasing simplicity and poverty, but the rewards are sweet, vast, and eternal for those who persist.
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Penance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (755 words)
Penance also may be self-imposed, especially during the Lenten fast (mainly the Passion week, inspired by Christ's suffering; hence also flagellantism or even voluntary crucifixion) and Advent.
Self-imposed penance, also called mortification of the flesh (because its natural weakness endangers the salvation of the soul unless duly controlled by the devout spirit), serves to detach the penitent of his worldly passions, as to draw him into closer union with God.
Performing penance in public, as opposed to the privacy of the confessional chair, gives it the character of public humiliation, which is often more 'punishing' then the intrinsic pain or discomfort of the deed.
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