Frequent Confession – Fr. Benedict Baur


Do Penance

1. “Do penance, for the dominion of heaven is at hand.” It was thus that “Jesus started to evangelise” (Matt. 4:17). And thus, already earlier than Jesus had, St. John the Baptist proclaimed within the desert to those that got here out to listen to him: “Do penance: for the dominion of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). To the self-righteous Pharisees and the free-thinking Sadducees he stated: “Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come back [i.e., the wrathful judgment of the coming Messiah]? Deliver forth, due to this fact, fruit worthy of penance.” Don’t say, he informed them, “We now have Abraham for our father”—as if household and race and blood have been sufficient. “For now the axe is laid to the foundation of the bushes. Each tree, due to this fact, that doth not yield good fruit, shall be minimize down, and solid into the fireplace” (Matt. 3:7–10). On the event when Our Lord was informed in regards to the Galileans whose blood Pilate had shed as they have been providing sacrifice, He appealed most urgently for penance. “Suppose you,” He requested, “that these Galileans have been sinners above all the boys of Galilee, as a result of they suffered such issues? No, I say to you: however except you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or these eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe, and slew them: suppose you, that in addition they have been debtors above all the boys that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you; however besides you do penance, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1–5). And St. Luke continues: “He spoke additionally this parable: A sure man had a fig tree planted in his winery, and he got here searching for fruit on it, and located none. And he stated to the dresser of the winery: Behold, for these three years I come searching for fruit on this fig tree, and I discover none. Lower it down, due to this fact!” (Luke 13:6–7).

Penance is commanded for all those that have sinned, even for individuals who haven’t sinned grievously. Even the smallest sin requires penance and might be forgiven solely when it’s atoned for by penance. We all know to what an extent the saints have been males of penance, even once they had been responsible of solely small sins and imperfections. In St. Aloysius Gonzaga, God united a “marvellous innocence of life with equally marvellous penance” and St. Peter of Alcantara was adorned with “the reward of admirable penance and loftiest contemplation.” St. Augustine tells us himself in his Confessions how he lamented and did penance for the sins and failings of his youth. Penance is the entry door to the heavenly kingdom of sanctifying grace and divine sonship; it’s the entry door particularly to the heavenly Kingdom of Christian perfection, of holy love for God, of the fullness of the items of the Holy Ghost, and of the really religious life.

The extra we flip away from sin, from all that displeases God in any means or dishonors Him or wrongs Him, the extra we will be united with Him and the richer would be the lifetime of grace and advantage in us. However that’s precisely what penance means: turning away from sin, turning our again on sin: from the primary feeling of dissatisfaction with sin to its full eradication and the fee of the debt of punishment because of it; and proper on to the steadfast willpower to embrace at all times what is sweet and holy and what honors and glorifies God. Penance is sorrow of soul for the sins we now have dedicated, with the agency decision to eradicate sin from our lives and to make satisfaction to God for the insults we now have provided Him up to now. It’s actually a part of the advantage of justice. Its purpose is to place an finish to the injustice completed to God by sin and to reestablish God’s proper to our service, to the love of our complete coronary heart and to the exercise of our complete being, which is violated by sin. Who would consider doubting that the advantage of penance is a superb and elegant advantage!

2. Even those that have by no means dedicated mortal sin, who’ve been responsible solely of venial sins and faults of frailty, have want of penance. The saying of St. Ambrose in his treatise on penance is a stern one however, alas, all too true. “It’s simpler,” he wrote, “to seek out individuals who protect their innocence than to seek out those that do becoming penance for his or her sins.” It so occurs that we human creatures, even once we want to do penance, have a lot opposition to beat in ourselves. We don’t like to listen to about penance and atonement for sin and certainly, in precise truth, right now in conferences and writings on non secular issues, we hear and skim however little about penance. Such is the spirit of our time. And but all of us commit sin, we fashionable individuals additionally! And consequently, all of us have to do penance. Certainly, the extra intent we’re on striving after excellent union with God and giving Him excellent service and residing wholly and completely for Him, the extra essential penance is for us.

Even after we now have considerably overcome our sinful habits, we nonetheless have to go on doing penance. When sin has lengthy since been forgiven by God, it nonetheless can and should be bewailed by us as a result of it stays at all times one thing to be regretted, one thing that ought by no means to have occurred. It has launched into our relation with God one thing that ought to not have been there, one thing that’s out of concord in a lifetime of true and ideal love of God. And so we will at all times go on making satisfaction and atonement for the sins of our previous that God has already forgiven. We by no means know the way far the punishment for sin is remitted with its guilt, how a lot temporal punishment for sin we nonetheless should endure both right here on earth or hereafter in Purgatory. Naturally, then, it’s of the best second that, our complete life by, we must always, to the most effective of our potential, at all times go on atoning and satisfying for our sins; that we must always strive, by a holy zeal for penance, ever anew to make reparation to the Lord for our former need of affection and self-surrender and loyalty and repair.

Penance and satisfaction are essential for the sins which have already been forgiven us by God. However, alas, aren’t all of us responsible of sin day-after-day in a method or one other? And haven’t we, due to this fact, day-after-day recent purpose for thrilling ourselves anew to contrition, atoning for our sins, performing works of penance and reparation, and making as much as God for the dignity of which we now have disadvantaged Him?

Sure, certainly, all of us have to do penance frequently. And there may be even an extra purpose for this. Penance will assist us mightily in our wrestle towards the heights of the Christian life. A vital factor of the inside life is humility. Now, there may be scarcely anything that makes us really feel so small and humble earlier than God, the All-Holy, who’s infinitely pure and noble, than the data and the unhappy recognition of the truth that we now have sinned in opposition to Him, usually and grievously, in thought, phrase, and deed. The remembrance of our previous sins and disloyalty, which God has so mercifully forgiven us, develops in us a way of gratitude to God. It fills us with gratitude to Christ Our Savior, who, by His sufferings and loss of life, gained forgiveness for us from the Father. He to whom a lot has been forgiven loves a lot (see Luke 7:43). Penance makes us affected person and powerful to bear our day by day crosses; it makes us perceive higher the vainness of the pleasures and good issues of this world and helps us to free ourselves interiorly from all earthly ties. The place the spirit of penance is, there additionally will develop delicacy of conscience and steadfastness in opposition to the whole lot that’s opposite to God’s regulation and that offends Him. And, lastly, not the least of the deserves of penance is that it produces within the soul a deep, lasting inside non secular pleasure, which is of very nice worth for the inside life.

3. Do penance! That’s, certainly, what we do again and again within the follow of frequent Confession. Sure, in obedience to the Lord’s name, we make up our minds to do penance. We flip away from sin, from even the smallest deliberate sin. Having earlier than our eyes the holiness and goodness of God, we endeavor to grasp higher what sin means, what even venial sin means. We hate sin with our complete soul, and with our will we flip away from it fully. Our former inclination towards sin is nullified by this new aversion from sin and any sinful inclination which will nonetheless stay is swept away from the soul. And so, so far as our will is anxious, we’re not the identical individual we have been once we sinned. We now have checked our descent, and we are actually heading upward. From abhorrence of sin will come sorrow for having handled God so badly; we will be grieved for having robbed Him of honor and for having offended Him. Lastly, we will type a particular and agency function of modification for the longer term: a decision to keep away from sin and the events of sin, to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins we now have dedicated and to make good any harm or harm they could have brought about. We will, too, pray to God fervently for forgiveness and mercy: begging Him to remove our sins, to blot them out and forgive them.

With this inside spirit of penance allow us to come often to Confession and obtain the sacrament of Penance. Allow us to come, if doable, each week. Certainly, for non secular, that is really helpful and even prescribed by the Church. And the extra pains we take to domesticate such a spirit of penance, the higher and the extra fruitfully we will obtain the sacrament of Penance.


“Rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy indignation; nor chastise
me in thy wrath. For thy arrows are fixed in me….
There isn’t any well being in my flesh, due to thy wrath: there
isn’t any peace for my bones, due to my sins. For my
iniquities are gone over my head: and as a heavy burden are
develop into heavy upon me. I’ll declare my iniquity: and I
will suppose for my sin. Forsake me not, O Lord, my God; do
not thou depart from me.”
—Ps. 37:2–5, 19, 22)


This text is tailored from a chapter in Frequent Confession by Fr. Benedict Baur, O.S.B. which is accessible from Sophia Institute Press.

Artwork for this publish: Cowl and featured picture used with permission.

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