This section needs additional citations for
The attitude of penance or repentance can be externalized in acts that a believer imposes on himself or herself, acts that are themselves called penances. Penitential activity is particularly common during the season of
Such acts are associated also with the sacrament. In
This section needs additional citations for
Similar to the Eastern Catholic Churches, in the Eastern Orthodox Church there are no confessionals. Traditionally the penitent stands or kneels before either the
The priest then advises the penitent that Christ is invisibly present and that the penitent should not be embarrassed or be afraid, but should open up their heart and reveal their sins so that Christ may forgive them. The penitent then accuses himself of sins. The priest quietly and patiently listens, gently asking questions to encourage the penitent not to withhold any sins out of fear or shame. After the confessant reveals all their sins, the priest 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 the penitent struggles most with. Penances, known as epitemia, are given with a therapeutic intent, so they are opposite to the sin committed.
Epitemia are neither a punishment nor merely a pious action, but are specifically aimed at healing the spiritual ailment that has been confessed. For example, if the penitent broke the Eighth Commandment by stealing something, the priest could prescribe they return what they stole (if possible) and give alms to the poor on a more regular basis. Opposites are treated with opposites. If the penitent suffers from gluttony, the confessant’s fasting rule is reviewed and perhaps increased. The intention of Confession is never to punish, but to heal and purify. Confession is also seen as a “second baptism”, and is sometimes referred to as the "baptism of tears".
In Orthodoxy, Confession is seen as a means to procure better spiritual health and purity. Confession does not involve merely stating the sinful things the person does; the good things a person does or is considering doing are also discussed. The approach is holistic, examining the full life of the confessant. The good works do not earn salvation, but are part of a psychotherapeutic treatment to preserve salvation and purity. Sin is treated as a spiritual illness, or wound, 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
Once the penitent has accepted the therapeutic advice and counsel freely given to him or her, by the priest then, placing his
In summary, the Priest reminds the penitent what he or she has received is a second baptism, through the Mystery of Confession, and that they should be careful not to defile this restored purity but to do good and to hear the voice of the psalmist: “Turn from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14). But most of all, the priest urges the penitent to guard him- or herself from sin and to
Private confession of sins to a priest, followed by absolution, has always been provided for in the
And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means [that is, by personal confession of sins] cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel; let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.
The status of confession as a
Until the Prayer Book revisions of the 1970s and the creation of
Despite the provision for private confession in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the practice was frequently contested during the
We respond to the invitation to the Table by immediately confessing our personal and corporate sin, trusting that, “If we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our expression of repentance is answered by the absolution in which forgiveness is proclaimed: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”
Many Methodists, like other Protestants, regularly practice confession of their sin to God Himself, holding that "When we do confess, our fellowship with the Father is restored. He extends His parental forgiveness. He cleanses us of all unrighteousness, thus removing the consequences of the previously unconfessed sin. We are back on track to realise the best plan that He has for our lives."
The Lutheran Church teaches two key parts in repentance (contrition and faith). In mainstream Lutheranism, the faithful often receive the sacrament of penance from a Lutheran priest before receiving the
The Roman Catholic Church uses the term "penance" in a number of separate but related instances: (a) as a moral virtue, (b) as a sacrament, (c) as acts of satisfaction, and (d) as those specific acts of satisfaction assigned the penitent by the confessor in the context of the sacrament. These have as in common the concept that he who sins must repent and as far as possible make reparation to Divine justice.
Penance is a moral virtue whereby the sinner is disposed to hatred of his sin as an offence against God and to a firm purpose of amendment and satisfaction. The principal act in the exercise of this virtue is the detestation of one's own sin. The motive of this detestation is that sin offends God. Theologians, following
Penance as a virtue resides in the will. Since it is a part of the cardinal virtue of justice, it can operate in a soul which has lost the virtue of charity by mortal sin. However it cannot exist in a soul which has lost the virtue of faith, since without faith all sense of the just measure of the injustice of sin is lost. It urges the individual to undergo punishment for the sake of repairing the order of justice; when motivated by even an ordinary measure of supernatural charity it infallibly obtains the forgiveness of venial sins and their temporal punishments; when motivated by that extraordinary measure which is called perfect charity (love of God for his own sake) it obtains the forgiveness of even mortal sins, when it desires simultaneously to seek out the Sacrament of penance as soon as possible, and of large quantities of temporal punishment.
Penance, while a duty, is first of all a gift. No man can do any penance worthy of God's consideration without His first giving the grace to do so. In penance is proclaimed mankind's unworthiness in the face of God's condescension, the indispensable disposition to God's grace. For though sanctifying grace alone forgives and purges sins from the soul, it is necessary that the individual consent to this action of grace by the work of the virtue of penance, Penance helps to conquer sinful habits and builds generosity, humility and patience. The following is a brief consideration of Our Lady's four requests: penance, prayer, devotion to her Immaculate Heart and the brown scapular. To those seeking help or in suffering please refer yourself through said means.
"The process of repentance and conversion was described by Jesus in the parable of prodigal son." In the
Through the priest who is the minister of the sacrament and who acts not in his own name but on behalf of God, confession of sins is made to God and absolution is received from God. In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way, the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life.
Essential to the sacrament are acts both by the sinner (examination of conscience, contrition with a determination not to sin again, confession to a priest, and performance of some act to repair the damage caused by sin) and by the priest (determination of the act of reparation to be performed and
The act of penance or satisfaction that the priest imposes helps the penitent to overcome selfishness, to desire more strongly to live a holy life, to be closer to Jesus, and to show to others the love and compassion of Jesus. It is part of the healing that the sacrament brings. "Sin injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relations with God and neighbour. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. 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 is done by prayer, charity, or an act of Christian asceticism. The rite of the sacrament requires that "the kind and extent of the satisfaction should be suited to the personal condition of each penitent so that each one may restore the order which he disturbed and through the corresponding remedy be cured of the sickness from which he suffered."
It may consist of prayer, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, "and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we all must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all."
In the 1966
The conversion of heart can be expressed in many ways. "Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others." Also mentioned are efforts at reconciliation with one's neighbor, and the practice of charity "which covers a multitude of sins" as in 1 Peter 4:8. “Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance."
In the Liturgical year, the seasons of Advent and Lent are particularly appropriate for penitential exercises such as voluntary self-denial and fraternal sharing. Under canon 1250 of the
In 2001 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a document titled, “Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics” reiterated their decision to allow U.S. Catholics to substitute another form of penance for abstinence from meat on the Fridays outside of Lent. While the document includes a list of suggested penitential practices, the selection of a Friday penance is left to the individual.
In 2011, Catholic bishops in England and Wales reversed their earlier decision to permit Catholics to practice a penance other than meat abstinence on Fridays. They said, in part: “The bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. … It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance. Note that the duty to perform the tasks of your state in life takes precedence over the law of fasting in the precepts of the Catholic Church. If fasting honestly causes one to be unable to fulfill his/her required tasks, it is uncharitable to fast — the law of fasting would not apply.
Many acts of penance carry an