Penance

Introduction

One day  I was with my parish priest in a local seminar, then there was a young gentleman protestant who asked my priest, “why do Catholics cofess their sins to a priest who is equally a human being and capable of being a sinner?”

My Priest gave him this interesting response, “Well, does your pastor have any special gifts?”

The gentleman replied,” Oh, Yes, in my Church our pastor prays and we get miracles!”

Priest,”That’s good, so when your pastor prays and enables you receive miracles, does that make him powerful, or he has this gift from God?”

Gentleman,”He has the Gift from God, and that is why he prays and we receive miracles.”

Priest,” Exactly, we as priests, we have this gift from God, who commissioned us to be able to absolve peoples’ sins.”

I loved that… It made sense and reasonable.

So, what is this sacrament?

Penance is also referred to as Confession or Reconciliation. This is a sacrament that forgives all the sins committed/omitted after Baptism

Is a sacrament that is controversial and has been contested by the Protestants/evangelicals as well as within the Catholic Christians and for the Catholics, when we sin:

  1. We offend God
  2. We offend others
  3. We offend ourselves

When we sin alone, it is always communal because when one has sinned, the ‘whole-body’ has sinned.

The sins which affect us can also affect others e.g:

  1. Thinking
  2. Cursing
  3. Worshipping other gods
  4. Jealousy

In penance, we always confess to God and the Church. If I offend somebody, I will need to go and apologize.

In the early Church, someone would stand before the Church and confess publicly; e.g: I stole Peoples’ cows, And the whole Church will give penance e.g kneeling outside

Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

Definition

Penance is a sacrament whereby the sins, whether mortal\venial\Grave\light which have been committed after Baptism are forgiven.

The sacrament of Penance increases the grace of God in the soul, besides forgiving sin: we should, therefore, often go for confession.

Scriptural basis of the sacrament of Penance

Here are the few basic scriptural foundations of penance.

James 5:16 “confess our sins to one another”

  • Scriptures do not say confess your sins straight to God and only God, it says; confess your sins to one another.

Mathew 9:6

  • Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins.
  • Mathew 9:8 – This authority was given to “men” (plural)

John 20:21-23

  • “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, even so, I send you”
Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

Sins to forgive and sins to retain

The priest can only know what sins to forgive or what sins to retain if they are made known by the penitent. Hiding sins becomes another lie to the Holy Spirit.

There are sins which may need satisfaction from the penitent in order to be forgiven; for instance, If I stole a goat from my neighbor, and went for confessions, my priest will first ask me to return the goat and come later to complete the sacrament.

This experience of confession of sins to a priest to receive the sign of God’s healing forgiveness is called by the Church; the sacrament of penance or reconciliation.

The power is exercised not only by the Apostles but also by their successors for the good of sinners;

Mathew 28:18 (28:18-20)

“All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Emotions (Genesis; Punishment of Human)

Most of our time for confessions, the sins that we commit usually are centered around a certain kind  of emotion, like:

  1. Desire/Aversion
  2. Courage/Fear
  3. Love/Hate
  4. Sadness (Sorrow)/Joy
  5. Anger
  6. Predominant Emotion – It cuts across all the emotions.
Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

Sense of Sin

The Sense of sin has changed in the modern world; the change has come with consequences.

The aim of this teaching is to return people to have a sense of sin.

Not having a sense of sin: Somebody may do something bad and have no guilt.

Human nature has not changed; people are the same as they were 2000 years ago.

There is no epoch that is superior or inferior to the other; e.g, the problem faced by our great-great grandparents and ancestors, is still the same as today.

There is a material difference where our society is becoming promiscuous.

Things have changed:

There are things that can be said now that could not be said in the past days.

In the past, there was a lot of hypocorism in approaching the issue of sin, today people are on the other extreme of laxity (Sexual matters, stealing, protecting the right to privacy)

Some sins that may cause more harm include:

  • Killing
  • Stealing
  • Corruption
  • Sins of Sex
Understanding the difference between the sin of sex and nature of sex

Sex is not to be viewed as a sin.

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve and told them to multiply and fill the earth.

This was the intention of fulfilling the earth by procreation.

Sex is not the worst sin, but it can cause harm to the human body and at the same time, brings forth new generations.

Examples of sins of sex:

  1. Fornication
  2. Lustful thoughts
  3. Holding someone in a compromising situation
  4. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. 
Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

Act of Sin 

One can commit an evil without one having committed a sin necessarily; i.e without being aware. Necessarily means that one who has committed is fully aware.

An evil becomes sin when it is committed with:

  • Knowledge
  • Will

Example:

Difference between manslaughter and murder

Manslaughter – is killing somebody without necessarily having the intention. One is capable to kill but does not kill. Such as a just war.

Murder – This is killing with a pre-meditated intention.

Hypocrism

At penance, one may become hypocritical.

This is mixing the sins committed willfully and the sins which did not need to be regarded as sins.

E.g:

One going for confession for a sin of missing to go for Mass on Sunday which was caused by the love of a neighbor in need; care for the sick.

The act of sin does not make a sinner but can cause harm

People go to false confession where they are not converted and they scandalize themselves.

A true confession is when one has stopped doing what he/she has been doing and goes to confess (Church Tradition)

A true confession requires that if I am in an unhealthy relationship, I break it completely and confess. One should be able to show that they have completely left sin and then make an act of attrition

An ideal confession, one acquires the sacramental grace.

Laxity and Scrupulosity

Scrupulous – Normally uncertain

Lux – People who do wrong things and does not bother about them. They pretend that nothing has happened.

People may even receive the Communion when   they are in sin like;

  • Tribalism
  • Hatred
  • Wild oaths

Communion should be received in the right disposition.

We are in a hedonistic culture, a culture where people seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake.

e.g; Catechists are not striking because the Church conditions are bad, but because they are becoming greedy.

We are in days when lies are the cultures of the day.

Why do People sin?

  1. People sin because they strive to get a good
  2. People sin because they are blinded by the amount of evil that is going to happen to them

People sin because they strive to get good.

Because we have a conscience or law in our hearts: do well avoid evil

In every evil that is done, there is a good.

  • But is that good proportionate to the evil?
  • Does that good overcome the consequences of evil?

Human beings do evil seeking a good.

Example:

When people kill each other, there is a good at it. The good is getting rid of the other, but the good is not proportionate to the evil, i.e taking away life.

Imagine Food.

Every food has good and evil

  • A lot of meat is unhealthy:-
  • Red meat is to be consumed proportionately
  • A lot of Chips causes cancer (Carcinogenic)
  • WHO (Outlines cancerogenic foods)
  • In using a lot of salt, there will be a higher evil.

When the evil is higher than the good, the human should avoid

“The end does not justify the means”

  • Stealing money so as to buy a child food; The end is good but the means are evil.
Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

People sin because they are blinded by the amount of evil that is going to happen to us.

As human beings, we are always blinded by the amount of evil that is going to happen to us.

Example of the Story of Adam and Eve

Tree of Life Tree of Knowledge
This is where, we follow God’s will In this, we choose by our own
There is the creator who is:

§  Omnipresent

§  Omniscient

§  Omnipotent

This is the path where:

§  God sees everything

§  God is present everywhere

We are:

§  Present

§  Knowledgeable

§  Potentate

This path does not lead to happiness.

It deceives

Satan was able to deceive Adam and Eve that, “you have knowledge”.

Consequences:

  • They became naked
  • Their children kill each other

Sin is when man and woman chose to do what is right and what is wrong.

The coming of Christ was to return us to the Tree of Life

At first, Jesus faces the three temptations where he faces off the devil.

The devil lives him and comes later, In the garden of Gethsemane, the devil comes again:

At Gethsemane, Christ meets two trees:

Tree of Life Tree of Knowledge “runaway”
Threatened; could he imagine that he is going to die. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Every time we are always in this scenario

Jesus eventually chose the tree of life which was the will of God

God created us with a free will and knowledge, but because we have a conscience, we are to ask God to help in avoiding an evil

Types of Sin (Act of sin)

  1. Personal Sin
  2. Effect of Sin

These two types of sin, they both determine whether someone is Holy or not.

Personal sin; They are removed by the Sacrament of Confession, Penance, Reconciliation

Effect of Sin; Is overcome by satisfaction.

Satisfaction of the Effect of Sin

In the Church, there are three ways of satisfying the effect of Sin:-

  1. Mortification
  2. Offering mass
  3. Indulgence

Mortify

To give oneself a punishment

Offering Mass

Here, it is Christ that is offered, who took our sins at Calvary.

Before going to Eucharist, there are two things to be considered:

  1. If mortal sin, one is required to go for confession
  2. If venial sin, one participates in the penitential act at mass.

Indulgence

Is a remission, granted by the Church, of the temporal punishment which often remains due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven.

This is what is offered by the Church

It is at the dispensation of the Pope e.g door of mercy

One is required to meet certain conditions

Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

In normal life situation:

When someone commits an offense;-

  1. Criminal court
  2. Civil court

Criminal court

  1. Admission of guilt
  2. Admission of sin caused

Civil court

The guilty will be either:

  1. Pay for damage caused
  2. Imprisoned
  3. Or both

As human beings, we are prone to sin because we have a Freewill

Here on earth, one can do indulgence for oneself and the dead.

Division of Sin

  1. Mortal sin
  2. Serious\Grave sin
  3. Venial sin
  4. Light sin

Mortal sin

This is the sin that kills.

Serious\Grave sin

It does not really kill the relationship with God but awakens the reality of the action with humanity

e.g – young people may become pregnant and they are awakened to the reality of humanity.

Venial Sin

Sins committed that hurt people

It curtails freedom and colors personality

Light sin                                   

When one does something that does not have much import for the life pattern of the person

Effects of the Sacrament

  1. Restoring us to God’s grace
  2. There are peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation
  3. Restoring the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God
  4. Reconciliation with the Church
  5. One is re-established and strengthened in the communion of saints
  6. The sinner passes from death to life and ‘does not come into judgment’ (John 5:24)

At confession, we are offered between life and death, and through conversion, that we can inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 5:11, Gal 5: 19-21, Rev 22:15)

Seven Sacraments

Essential Items at the Sanctuary

Infant Baptism

Marriage

Ministers of the Sacrament

It is only administered by the Bishops and their collaborators, the Priests, through the virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders since Christ entrusted to his Apostles and their successors. (John 20:23, 2 Cor 5:18)

No mater the moral status of an ordained minister, the sacrament is administered validly and becomes licit; Imagine in a case where you are ill and you get to a hospital, the doctor there who may be also in some kind of sickness, but the prescription that he or she administers, will have an effect on your health and his or her status will not affect you as the patent.

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