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La Penitente by Pietro Rotari.
"Penitent" redirects here. For the glacial formation, see "penitentes."

Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in Lutheran non-sacramental confession. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin poenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven; (in English see contrition). 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." Word derivations occur in many languages.

Contents

Sacramental penance

The reproach of Nathan and the penance of King David (Paris Psalter, folio 136v, 10th century).

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, 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 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.

"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 pseudo-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.

Roman Catholicism

In the Catholic Church, the sacrament of Penance consists of three parts: contritio, confessio and satisfactio.

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.

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. The priest is bound by the seal of confession not to reveal or discuss a penitents sins with others. Violation of the seal of confession incurs the most severe ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication for the violating priest. The confession can be made face-to-face or in a private confessional with a screen dividing the priest and person confessing sins.

Anglicanism

Private confession of sins to a priest, followed by absolution, has always been provided for in the Book of Common Prayer. In the Communion Service 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.[1]

The status of confession as a sacrament is ambiguous in Anglican formularies, such as the Thirty-Nine Articles. 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."[2] 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.[3]

Until the Prayer Book revisions of the 1970s and the creation of Alternative Service Books 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."[4]

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.[5] It is now practiced without controversy.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Priest hearing confession.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church penance it is usually called Sacred Mystery 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 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 in front of the penitent has been placed a Gospel Book and a Crucifix. 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 (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 (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 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” (Psalm 34:14). 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 dismisses the repentant one in peace.

The Augsburg Confession divides repentance into two parts: "One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors."[6]

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).[6] Lutherans reject the teaching that forgiveness is obtained through penance.[7]

Penance in India

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). In Hinduism penance is widely discussed in Dharmasastra literature.

Penance in art and fiction

Hatsuhana doing penance under the Tonosawa waterfall (woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798 - 1861).
  • Penance (2004)
  • Penance (1999)
  • Sadhna (1958) aka "The Penance"
  • The Bell of Penance (1912)
  • A Daughter of Penance (1916)
  • Proper Penance (1992) (V)

See also

Sources and references

(incomplete)

References

  1. ^ 1662 BCP: The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion, p. 8 of 17.
  2. ^ The Thirty-Nine Articles, Article XXV: Of it giving thanks and praise.
  3. ^ W.G. Wilson, Anglican Teaching: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles, p. 133
  4. ^ 1662 BCP: The Order for the Visitation of the Sick, p. 4 of 7.
  5. ^ See, for example, J.C. Ryle, "The Teaching of the Ritualists Not the Teaching of the Church of England, n.d.
  6. ^ a b Augsburg Confession, Article XII: Of Repentance
  7. ^ "Christian Cyclopedia". http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=p&word=PENANCE. ""Rejected ... are those who teach that forgiveness of sin is not obtained through faith but through the satisfactions made by man."" 

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The Penance
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The Penance may refer to:


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PENANCE (Old Fr. penance, fr. Lat. poenitentia, penitence), strictly, repentance of sins. Thus in the Douai version of the New Testament the Greek word µEravoca is rendered "penance," where the Authorized Version has "repentance." The two words, similar in their derivation and original sense, have however come to be symbolical of conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising out of the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works." The Reformers, upholding the doctrine of justification by faith, held that repentance consisted in a change of the whole moral attitude of the mind and soul ( 7rcvrpickoOac, Matt. xiii. 15; Luke xxii. 32), and that the Divine forgiveness followed true repentance and confession to God without any reparation of "works." This is the view generally held by Protestants. In the Roman Catholic Church the sacrament of penance consists of three parts: contritio, confessio, satisfactio. Contritio is in fact repentance as Protestant theologians understand it, i.e. sorrow for sin arising from love of God, 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, however, decided that "reconciliation" could not follow such contrition without the other parts of the sacrament, which form part of it (sine sacramenti voto, quod in ilia includatur). Contrition is also distinguished from "attrition" (attritio), i.e. 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 word "penance," applied to the whole sacrament, is also used of the works of satisfaction imposed by the priest on the penitent, i.e. the temporal punishment (poena). This varies with the character and heinousness of the offences committed. In the middle ages "doing penance" was often a process as terrible and humiliating to the penitent as it was possibly edifying to the Church. Public penances have, how-, ever, long been abolished in all branches of the Christian Church. (See CONFESSION.)


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Simple English

The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for:
doing public penance at Attigny in 822]]

Penance is repentance of sins, as well as the name of the Catholic Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. The word penance comes from the Latin poenitentia, the same root as penitence, which in English means repentance, the desire to be forgiven, see contrition; in many languages there is only one single word for it. Penance and repentance were similar in their original sense. After the controversy about the merits of "faith" and "good works" they are seen as conflicting views.

Penance in art and fiction

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

Penance in movies:

  • Penance (2004)
  • Penance (1999)
  • "I Confess". Warner Brothers, 1953. Alfred Hitchcock, Dir. Starring: Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter
  • Sadhna (1958) aka "The Penance"
  • The Bell of Penance (1912)
  • A Daughter of Penance (1916)
  • Who Killed Brett Penance? (1995) (VG)
  • Proper Penance (1992) (V)
  • Veruntreute Himmel, Der (1958)
  • The Reckoning (2003)
  • Fatima (1997) (TV)
  • Constantine (2005)
  • "Nightmare Cafe" (1992)
  • An optional superboss in the international version of Final Fantasy X (2001)
  • The Mission (film) (1986) - penance of Rodrigo Mendoza (played by Robert de Niro)

References

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