Penance
Overview
"Penitent" redirects here. For the glacial formation, see "penitentes
Penitentes
thumb|Penitentes are the name of the caps of the [[nazarenos]]; literally those doing penance for their sins.Penitentes, or nieves penitentes , are a snow formation found at high altitudes. They take the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced with the blades oriented...

".

Penance is repentance of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

s as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and other Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

. The word penance derives from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 poenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven; (in English see contrition
Contrition
Contrition or contriteness is sincere and complete remorse for sins one has committed...

).
Encyclopedia
"Penitent" redirects here. For the glacial formation, see "penitentes
Penitentes
thumb|Penitentes are the name of the caps of the [[nazarenos]]; literally those doing penance for their sins.Penitentes, or nieves penitentes , are a snow formation found at high altitudes. They take the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced with the blades oriented...

".

Penance is repentance of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

s as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and other Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

. The word penance derives from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 poenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven; (in English see contrition
Contrition
Contrition or contriteness is sincere and complete remorse for sins one has committed...

). Penance and repentance
Repentance
Repentance is a change of thought to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from a person who is wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law...

, 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." Word derivations occur in many languages.

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)ence, means "punishment"), and varying with the character and heinousness of the offences committed. In the feudal era "doing penance" often involved severe, often 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
Cilice
A cilice was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair used in some religious traditions to induce some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement...

 and public humiliation
Public humiliation
Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons .- Shameful exposure :...

s 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
Reinforcement
Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior in the form of a "response" by the delivery or emergence of a stimulus Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of...

 the penitent's behaviour.

"Penance" also refers to acts that a believer imposes on him or herself outside of the sacrament. Penitential activity is particularly common during the season of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

 and Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

 (mainly the Passion week, inspired by Christ's suffering; hence in some cultural traditions still including flagellantism or even voluntary pseudo-crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

) and, to a lesser extent, Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

, when penance is often combined with acts of self-discipline, such as fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

, voluntary celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

, or other privations. In the Roman Catholic tradition especially, such acts of self-denial are sometimes called mortification
Mortification
Mortification can refer to:*Mortification , theological doctrine*Mortification of the flesh, religious practice of corporal mortification...

 of the flesh because of the belief that an unrestrained corporeal body endangers salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

, unless controlled by the spirit, serving to detach the penitent of his worldly passions, as to draw him into closer union with God.

Roman Catholicism

In the Catholic Church, the sacrament of penance (also called reconciliation, forgiveness, confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

 and conversion) is one of the two sacraments of healing: Jesus Christ has willed that by this means the Church should continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation. 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.

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 absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

). Serious sins (mortal sin
Mortal sin
Mortal sins are in the theology of some, but not all Christian denominations wrongful acts that condemn a person to Hell after death. These sins are considered "mortal" because they constitute a rupture in a person's link to God's saving grace: the person's soul becomes "dead", not merely weakened...

s) must be confessed within at most a year and always before receiving Holy Communion, while confession of venial sin
Venial sin
According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in Hell...

s also is recommended.

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."

The priest is bound under the severest penalties to maintain the "seal of confession", absolute secrecy about any sins revealed to him in confession.
Especially in the West, the penitent may choose to confess in a specially constructed confessional
Confessional
A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation, and also in the...

, with a screen separating the priest from the penitent, whose anonymity is thus preserved completely. The penitent may also choose to confess face to face, and this is the tradition in some Eastern Catholic Churches.

Although spiritual direction
Spiritual direction
Spiritual direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is experiencing...

 is not necessarily connected with the sacrament, the sacrament of penance has throughout the centuries been one of its main settings, enabling the Christian to become sensitive to God's presence, deepen the personal relationship with Christ and attend to the action of the Spirit in one's life.

In the Roman Rite
Roman Rite
The Roman Rite is the liturgical rite used in the Diocese of Rome in the Catholic Church. It is by far the most widespread of the Latin liturgical rites used within the Western or Latin autonomous particular Church, the particular Church that itself is also called the Latin Rite, and that is one of...

, celebration of the sacrament begins with a greeting and blessing by the priest, who invites the penitent to have trust in God. The priest may read a short passage from the Bible that proclaims God's mercy and calls man to conversion, and then the penitent confesses his sins, helped if necessary by the priest, after which the priest gives him counsel for his life and proposes an act of penance, which the penitent accepts to make satisfaction for sin and to amend his life. The penitent declares sorrow for sin and the priest imparts absolution, saying:
God the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.


Finally, the priest invites the penitent to "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good" and dismisses him with some words, the longest formula of which is:
May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints,
whatever good you do and suffering you endure,
heal your sins,
help you to grow in holiness,
and reward you with eternal life.

Eastern Orthodox Church

In the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 penance it is usually called Sacred Mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

 of Confession. Whereas in Roman Catholicism the goal of the sacrament of Penance is reconciliation with God through means of justification, in Orthodoxy the intention of the sacramental mystery of Holy Confession is to provide reconciliation with God through means of healing.

Similar to the Eastern Catholic Churches, in the Eastern Orthodox Church there are no confessionals. Traditionally the penitent stands or kneels before either the Icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of Christ the Teacher (to the viewers' right of the Royal Door) or in front of an Icon of Christ, "Not Made by Hands". This is because in Orthodox sacramental theology, confession is not made to the priest, but to Christ; the priest being there as a witness, friend and advisor. On an analogion
Analogion
An Analogion is a lectern or slanted stand on which icons or the Gospel Book are placed for veneration by the faithful in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches...

 in front of the penitent has been placed a Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

 and a Crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

. The penitent venerates the Gospel Book and the cross and kneels. 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 ever, and unto the ages of ages,” reads the Trisagion Prayers and the Psalm 50
Psalm 51
Psalm 51 , traditionally referred to as the Miserere, its Latin incipit, is one of the Penitential Psalms. It begins: Have mercy on me, O God....

 (in the Septuagint; in the KJV this is Psalm 51).

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 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 Spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 (πνευμα), can be translated as "air in motion" or wind).

Once the penitent has accepted the therapeutic advice and counsel freely given to him or her, by the priest then, placing his epitrachelion
Epitrachelion
The Epitrachil is the liturgical vestment worn by priests and bishops of the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches as the symbol of their priesthood, corresponding to the Western stole...

 over the head of the confessant. The priest says 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.”

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” . But most of all, the priest urges the penitent to guard him- or herself from sin and to commune
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 as often as permitted. The priest dismisses the repentant one in peace.

Anglicanism

Private confession of sins to a priest, followed by absolution, has always been provided for in the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

. In the Communion Service
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 of the 1662 English Prayer Book, for example, we read:

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 sacrament
Anglican sacraments
In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the Catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation...

 is stated in Anglican formularies, such as the Thirty-Nine Articles
Thirty-Nine Articles
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Anglican church with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. First established in 1563, the articles served to define the doctrine of the nascent Church of England as it related to...

. Article XXV includes it among "Those five commonly called Sacraments" which "are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel . . . for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God." It is important to note, however, that "commonly called Sacraments" does not mean "wrongly called Sacraments;" and that the Article merely distinguishes confession and the other rites from the two great Sacraments of the Gospel.

Until the Prayer Book revisions of the 1970s and the creation of Alternative Service Book
Alternative Service Book
The Alternative Service Book 1980 was the first complete prayer book produced by the Church of England since 1662. Its name derives from the fact that it was proposed not as a replacement for the Book of Common Prayer but merely as an alternative to it...

s in various Anglican provinces, there was no official rite of confession. The form of absolution provided in the order for the Visitation of the Sick reads, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Despite the provision for private confession in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the practice was frequently contested during the Ritualist controversies of the later nineteenth century.

Non-sacramental penance

Other Christian traditions also practice Penance, particularly 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.

Lutheranism

The Lutheran Church teaches two key parts in penance (contrition and faith). Lutherans reject the teaching that forgiveness is obtained through penance.

Penance in Indian beliefs

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) are considered penance. In Hinduism penance is widely discussed in Dharmasastra
Dharmasastra
Dharmaśāstra is a genre of Sanskrit texts and refers to the śāstra, or Indic branch of learning, pertaining to Hindu dharma, religious and legal duty. The voluminous textual corpus of Dharmaśāstra is primarily a product of the Brahmanical tradition in India and represents the elaborate scholastic...

 literature.

The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba
Meher Baba
Meher Baba , , born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age....

 stated that "When penance is carefully nourished and practiced, it inevitably results in the mental revocation of undesirable modes of thought and conduct, and makes one amenable to a life of purity and service."

Penance in art and fiction

Films:
  • Penance (film)
    Penance (film)
    Penance is a 2009 horror film directed by Jake Kennedy and starring Marieh Delfino and Michael Rooker.-Plot:A young mother decides to become a stripper to earn some fast cash only to find her worst nightmares are about to begin when she falls into the hands of a religious fanatic intent on changing...

     (2004)
  • Penance (film)
    Penance (film)
    Penance is a 2009 horror film directed by Jake Kennedy and starring Marieh Delfino and Michael Rooker.-Plot:A young mother decides to become a stripper to earn some fast cash only to find her worst nightmares are about to begin when she falls into the hands of a religious fanatic intent on changing...

     (1999)
  • Sadhna
    Sadhna
    Sadhna is a 1958 Hindi film produced and directed by B. R. Chopra. The film stars Sunil Dutt, Vyjayanthimala and Leela Chitnis.-Awards:* 1958 Filmfare Best Story Award: Mukhram sharma* 1958: Filmfare Best Actress Award : Vyjayanthimala...

     (1958) aka "The Penance"
  • The Bell of Penance (1912)
  • A Daughter of Penance (1916)
  • Proper Penance (1992) (V)

Sources and references

(incomplete)
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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