Author Topic: Assigned penances  (Read 474 times)

Offline TandJ

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Assigned penances
« on: February 03, 2021, 01:57:04 PM »
I know the penances in confession have been relaxed quite a bit compared to the old days, but what happens if a person is assigned a very small penance for a serious sin? For the longest time I was assigned a single Our Father for anything and everything I confessed. How does this affect my confessions? Or does it just mean less temporal punishment is erased?
 
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Offline james03

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2021, 02:28:58 PM »
You are restored to sanctifying grace, and receive other actual graces to live better.  If you die in this state, you will ultimately go to heaven.

Your temporal punishment on earth or in purgatory will be more severe.

An option to consider is to look into plenary indulgences  or other indulgences to reduce the temporal punishment.  You could also look into doing some fasting, like a one day per week electronics fast and offer it up for your sins.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."

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Offline Miriam_M

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2021, 02:30:50 PM »
It is recommended that we ask the priest for a heavier penance in those cases.  We can also just do one on our own, but it is in keeping with the grace of the sacrament that the request and the granting be done within the sacrament.

I love proportional penances, and I think nothing else makes sense.  If your priest objects and just blows it off, say that because Lent is coming up, you wish to become more penitential, in anticipation.  (And of course the same would apply to Lent.)  If he still refuses, say a fuller penance in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, if possible, asking her to offer this to her Son. Do this immediately after you leave the confessional.

I benefit tremendously from heavy penances assigned in the confessional.
 
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2021, 08:04:49 AM »
Isn't the penance supposed to be "very small", for theological reasons? Even the smallest venial sin is worse than the destruction of an infinite number of universes, and so no amount of penance can possibly make up for it. So I think the idea is to give the penitent a mere slap on the wrist, in order not to give him the impression that he is somehow earning his own forgiveness. (Or maybe I'm conflating the idea of eternal punishment with the idea of temporal punishment? Maybe he does earn his own temporal forgiveness? Still, how can anyone calculate how much penance is needed in order to satisfy the temporal punishment for any particular sin?)


Also, I think priests tend to associate voluntary penance with scruples and/or pride. This is why we are discouraged (and in some cases forbidden) from voluntarily wearing hairshirts and flogging ourselves and doing a lot of extra fasting and stuff--the very sorts of penances that would have been practiced by just about everybody during the middle ages. Anybody who wants to do these penances today is dismissed as not having the right intention or something.


Anyway, the heaviest penance I've ever been assigned was a mere 15 decades of the rosary. But usually it was only like an Our Father and three Hail Marys and a Glory Be, or ten Hail Marys. I can't recall ever being assigned a penance involving the mortification of the flesh, even in confessions where the sins I confessed pertained to the flesh.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2021, 08:12:52 AM by Daniel »
 
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Offline Gerard

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2021, 12:50:27 PM »
And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact. 
 
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Offline Miriam_M

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 12:55:01 PM »
And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

Correct.  Although first you ask the initial confessor.  But yes, you are allowed to do what you just said.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2021, 01:10:47 PM »
And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

Correct.  Although first you ask the initial confessor.  But yes, you are allowed to do what you just said.

I thought the rule is, you either need to go back to the same priest, or else you need to re-confess all of the sins that you had confessed in the prior confession.
 

Offline Miriam_M

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2021, 02:56:44 PM »
And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

Correct.  Although first you ask the initial confessor.  But yes, you are allowed to do what you just said.

I thought the rule is, you either need to go back to the same priest, or else you need to re-confess all of the sins that you had confessed in the prior confession.

No.  First of all, sometimes it's not possible (or too difficult) to locate that previous confessor.  But second, if he's the one who has assigned the very stiff penance, he may or may not relent if you did locate him.  There's nothing wrong with trying that, but it is not required; that's the point.  Not for the assigned penance aspect, anyway.

Although I used to wonder what could be a "too stiff" penance for any sin, there could be some penances that cause a true lifestyle problem.  Let's say that you must rise at a certain time to catch certain public transportation (and connections) to get to your job on time, but the priest has assigned a particular long penance first thing when you awaken in the morning, every day for a week.  Let's say it's just a rosary, but your schedule is so tight that saying it at that time of day could cause you to be late for your job and jeopardize your income.

If I had tried that penance and couldn't finish it in time, then I would return to the priest if I knew where he was and explain the problem, asking for a different time of day or to split the rosary.  If I couldn't find him I would go to another priest, explain what I had been assigned and obtain a new penance if possible. 

Understand that priests receive the grace of forgetfulness about sins confessed, so even if I were to locate and return to that same priest, I might have to fill him in (remind him) what occurred in his confessional.  Even then, he may or may not remember the occasion, let alone the penance he assigned, which is why it might be just like finding a new priest!
 

Offline Gerard

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 12:37:58 AM »
And in the case of a penance being given that is actually too heavy to bear, you can go into the confessional and ask another priest to reduce the penance.  Fun fact.

Correct.  Although first you ask the initial confessor.  But yes, you are allowed to do what you just said.


I had a situation in which a visiting priest was foreign and did not have a good command of the Engish language.  I didn't think the penance was that stiff though it was more than "normal."  But the issue was he didn't to my knowledge absolve me.  I asked him if he absolved me and he said, "Yes."  But I didn't hear a thing in any language that was an absolution formula.  So, I popped out of the confessional and walked right into the confessional next to it.  I told the priest what happened, and he asked what penance I was given, and he thought it was too much.  He complained about how they had to suffer with this visitor and thanked me for pointing out what happened.  So, I re-confessed and he told me he would reduce the penance. Nice priest, he retired and was too old to learn or re-learn the TLM if he ever had learned it.  But he knew the Church was in a disastrous state and he found his personal liturgical preference as an attendee in the Anglican Ordinariate.  More pious prayers and better music was the rationale. 
 

Offline ChristusRex

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Re: Assigned penances
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2021, 10:16:21 PM »
Iíve noticed you have posted several questions regarding sin/confession etc.

From experience, I can assure you that you will not experience the peace of mind and soul you desire by posting these questions on forums. You will most likely get a multitude of different answers from untrained laymen (not an insult to anyone) which will only serve to confuse you the more.

These moral questions should be between you and your priest. And you should start learning to ask less questions in general.

You are seeking reassurance to calm your anxiety and fear. You asking questions is a compulsion to the anxiety created by your obsession. But, being reassured by other people doesnít actually help. It only compounds the problem.
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