I hope I am not for the killing, Anselmo was thinking. I think that after the war there will have to be some great penance done for the killing. If we no longer have religion after the war then I think there must be some form of civic penance organized that all may be cleansed from the killing or else we will never have a true and human basis for living. The killing is necessary, I know, but still the doing of it is very bad for a man and I think that, after all this is over and we have won the war, there must be a penance of some kind for the cleansing of us all.
Penance to be sure must be used as a tool, in due times and places, as need may be. If the flesh, being too strong, kicks against the spirit, penance takes the rod of discipline, and fast, and the cilice of many buds, and mighty vigils; and places burdens enough on the flesh, that it may be more subdued. But if the body is weak, fallen into illness, the rule of discretion does not approve of such a method.
St. Catherine of Siena
This figure upon the Cross is not a MVD agent or a Gestapo inquisitor, but a Divine Physician, Who only asks that we bring our wounds to Him in order that He may heal them. If our sins be as scarlet, they shall be washed white as snow, and if they be as red as crimson, they shall be made white as wool. Was it not He Who told us, 'I say to you, that even so there shall be more joy in Heaven upon one sinner that doth penance than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance' (Luke 15:7)? In the story of the prodigal, did He not describe the Father as saying, 'Let us eat and make merry: because this my son was dead and is come to life again; was lost and is found' (Luke 15:23, 24)? Why is there more joy in Heaven for the repentant sinner than for the righteous? Because God's attitude is not judgment but love. In judgment, one is not as joyful after doing wrong as before; but in love, there is joy because the danger and worry of losing that soul is past. He who is sick is loved more than he who is well, because he needs it more. Some will feign sickness to solicit love and pretend wounds that the beloved may bind them.
Fulton J. Sheen
We are familiar with people who seek out solitude: penitents, failures, saints, or prophets. They retreat to deserts, preferably, where they live on locusts and honey. Others, however, live in caves or cells on remote islands; some-more spectacularly-squat in cages mounted high atop poles swaying in the breeze. They do this to be nearer God. Their solitude is a self-moritification by which they do penance. They act in the belief that they are living a life pleasing to God. Or they wait months, years, for their solitude to be broken by some divine message that they hope then speedily to broadcast among mankind. Grenouille's case was nothing of the sort. There was not the least notion of God in his head. He was not doing penance or wating for some supernatural inspiration. He had withdrawn solely for his own pleasure, only to be near to himself. No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid. He lay in his stony crypt like his own corpse, hardly breathing, his heart hardly beating-and yet lived as intensively and dissolutely as ever a rake lived in the wide world outside.
He explained that there was no human penance for my sins. No way I could ever atone for all the things I had done. But... there was someone else who could atone. Who could wipe the past away and give new life. Heal all the wounds - my own and those I had inflicted on so many others through the years.
He could hardly imagine anymore what his life would be without the weight of his hidden knowledge. He'd come to think of it as a kind of penance. It was self-destructive, he could see that, but that was the way things were. People smoked, they jumped out of airplanes, they drank too much and got into their cars and drove without seat belts.
I had grown accustomed to life being interesting and adventure ridden and, rather childishly, I refused to believe that this must necessarily come to an end and that the rest of my life should be a sort of penance for all the reckless, irresponsible, and immensely fun things I'd done before.
J. Maarten Troost
Solitude, I reflected, is the one deep necessity of the human spirit to which adequate recognition is never given in our codes. It is looked upon as a discipline or penance, but hardly ever as the indispensable, pleasant ingredient it is to ordinary life, and from this want of recognition come half our domestic troubles.
When white men were willing to put their own offspring in the kitchen and corn field and allowed them to be sold into bondage as slaves and degraded them as another man's slave, the retribution of wrath was hanging over this country and the South paid penance in four years of bloody war.
Rebecca Latimer Felton
Probability is a kind of penance, which God made, suitable, I presume to that state of mediocrity and probationership he has been pleased to place us in here; wherein, to check our over-confidence and presumption, we might, by every day's experience, be made sensible of our short-sightedness, and liableness to error.
The examination of conscience has an important educational value. it teaches us to look sincerely at our own lives, to compare them with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate them with parameters that are not only human but drawn from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes, and above all with the Precept to love, represents the first great 'school of penance
Pope Benedict XVI
There weren't any promises of a future life together, either, but he didn't need to live like a monk anymore. Two years was more than enough time for soul-searching and penance. As long as Laney was close enough to touch, to breath in, to taste like his goddamn last meal, he would take whatever she offered and not ask any questions about what it might cost him when she inevitably left.
I know California isn't a real destination. You can't get there from New Jersey, not simply by following a line drawn on a map. The process of arrival is more subtle and complex. It involves acts of contrition. You must appease the gods. You must find novel forms of penance. You must tattoo your children and look at the wonder. It's about conjuring and awakening and intuitions you wish you never had.
We kissed each other until we were too tired to keep going. I could still feel him holding back. It was my penance for what I had done to him. All I could do was hope the walls would fall and that I could have all of him again, but I was always leaving and he was tired of watching me walk away. We both knew that I couldn't stay and that he couldn't come with me, but still, we couldn't let go.
Penance is the willingness to undergo hardships for the achievement of a good purpose. I was willing. But when hardships came I found myself lifted above them. Instead of hardship, I found a wonderful sense of peace and joy and conviction that I was following God's will. Blessings instead of hardships are showered upon me.
To deny one's self, to take up the cross, denotes something immeasurably grander than self-imposed penance or rigid conformity to a Divine statute. It is the surrender of self to an ennobling work, an absolute subordination of personal advantages and of personal pleasures for the sake of truth and the welfare of others, and a willing acceptance of every disability which their interests may entail.
George C. Lorimer
Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.
In a few days I'll have lived one score and three days in this vale of tears. On I plod-always bored, often drunk, doing no penance for my faults-rather do I become more tolerant of myself from day to day, hardening my crystal heart with blasphemous humor and shunning only toothpicks, pathos, and poverty as being the three unforgivable things in life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me tobe doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways.... The twelve labors of Hercules were trifling in comparison with those which my neighbors have undertaken; for they were only twelve, and had an end; but I could never see that these men slew or captured any monster or finished any labor.
Henry David Thoreau
When you've tired of me, ' she said softly, precisely, 'Apollo will still be my brother. Will still be there for me.' 'I'll never tire of you, ' he said, knowing with every thread of his soul that he spoke the absolute truth. 'Then prove it.' He knew what she asked with such an open and vulnerable face. Something within him shriveled and died... he'd been on the rack too long for a penance he wasn't sure he could ever entirely pay. 'You know... ' His voice was hoarse, the croaking of a dying man. He licked his lips. 'You know why I cannot.
We find nothing easier than being wise, patient, superior. We drip with the oil of forbearance and sympathy, we are absurdly just, we forgive everything. For that very reason we ought to discipline ourselves a little; for that very reason we ought to cultivate a little emotion, a little emotional vice, from time to time. It may be hard for us; and among ourselves we may perhaps laugh at the appearance we thus present. But what of that! We no longer have any other mode of self-overcoming available to us: this is our asceticism, our penance.
Novels were not arguments; a story worked, or it didn't, on its own merits. What did it matter if a detail was real or imagined? What mattered was that the detail seemed real, and that it was absolutely the best detail for the circumstance. That wasn't much of a theory, but it was all Ruth could truly commit herself to at the moment. It was time to retire that old lecture, and her penance was to endure the compliments of her former credo.
However powerful our technology and complex our corporations, the most remarkable feature of the modern working world may in the end be internal, consisting in an aspect of our mentalities: in the widely held belief that our work should make us happy. All societies have had work at their centre; ours is the first to suggest that it could be something more than a punishment or a penance. Ours is the first to imply that we should seek to work even in the absence of a financial imperative.
Alain de Botton
It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain. So I need to run, and as my lungs burn and my back rebels with that stabbing knife feeling and my legs muscles harden and the half inch of loose skin around my waist jiggles, I feel as though my penance for the day is being done and that maybe God will be pleased enough to lend me some help, which I think is why He has been showing me interesting clouds for the past week.
No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing.
St. Catherine of Siena
The Catholic community must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends. Likewise, the community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI
Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.
Pope Benedict XVI
Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God's little children repent, and so do the young men and the fathers. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
There must be some other possibility than death or lifelong penance... some meeting, some intersection of lines; and some cowardly, hopeful geometer in my brain tells me it is the angle at which two lines prop each other up, the leaning-together from the vertical which produces the false arch. For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life. Only the very lucky discover the keystone.
There must be some other possibility than death or lifelong penance ... some meeting, some intersection of lines; and some cowardly, hopeful geometer in my brain tells me it is the angle at which two lines prop each other up, the leaning-together from the vertical which produces the false arch. For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life. Only the very lucky discover the keystone.
Such young men are often awkward, ungainly, and not yet formed in their gait; they straggle with their limbs, and are shy; words do not come to them with ease, when words are required, among any but their accustomed associates. Social meetings are periods of penance to them, and any appearance in public will unnerve them. They go much about alone, and blush when women speak to them. In truth, they are not as yet men, whatever the number may be of their years; and, as they are no longer boys, the world has found for them the ungraceful name of hobbledehoy.
One woman approached me as she walked past and, pointing to her four children who were manfully helping the smallest ones over the rough ground, whispered: 'How can you bring yourself to kill such beautiful, darling children? Have you no heart at all?' One old man, as he passed me, hissed: 'Germany will pay a heavy penance for this mass murder of the Jews.' His eyes glowed with hatred as he said this. Nevertheless he walked calmly into the gas-chamber.
I was raised a Catholic as a boy and went to a Catholic boys' high school, a private school, and kind of drifted away, candidly, in my latter teen years. I consider myself deeply spiritual but not in an institutional, religious kind of a way. In Catholicism, we're surrounded by these images of martyrdom and doing penance and doing some suffering to achieve what you're trying to achieve. And I certainly embedded that in my psyche and I have lived that very effectively.
Rather than providing him with economic opportunity, the Act of that name seems designed to make the poor man do penance all his life for the sin of being born into a non-capital-owning family... One searches it in vain for measure designed to provide economic opportunity to the capital owner. But nobody proposes to educate, train, or rehabilitate either him or his children, even when their "unemployment" is notorious.
Louis O. Kelso
Sometimes men and women prefer the darkness to the light because they are attached to their sins. Nevertheless it is only by opening oneself to the light and only by sincerely confessing one's sins to God that one finds true peace and true joy. It is therefore important to receive the Sacrament of Penance regularly, especially during Lent, in order to receive the Lord's forgiveness and to intensify our process of conversion.
Pope Benedict XVI
So crosses don't do anything against your kind?" Sean asked. "No, " Arland said. "There is no mystical force repelling us." "Then why?" "We're forbidden to kill a creature in a moment of prayer or invocation of their deity. Well, we can, technically, but you have to do penance and purify yourself and nobody wants to spend weeks praying and bathing themselves in the sacred cave springs. The water's only a fraction warmer than ice. When one of you holds up a cross, it's difficult to determine whether you're praying, invoking, or just waving it around. So the sane strategy is to back away.
Everything is possible for the believer. I have watched impure souls mad for physical love but turning what they know of such love into a reason for penance and transferring that same capacity for love to the Lord. I have watched them master fear so as to drive themselves unsparingly toward the love of God. That is why, when talking of that chaste harlot, the Lord does not say, 'because she feared,' but rather, 'because she loved much' she was able to drive out love with love (Lk. 7:47).
Lionel was filled with awful remorse. He asked where had Thomas been last seen, and the boy told him he was headed for the church. Lionel nodded and went home to fetch his shotgun. Throughout the crisis he had done no violence, preferring to preach the sanity of pacifism to the flock. This was different. This was a requirement of the father to the son. He prayed over the shotgun while Darla wailed with the children in the living room. He got in his truck and drove to the church. - From "The South Fork Penance
L. Joseph Shosty
I recalled the afternoon when the two of us stood beating erasers, and Camille confided that she'd done penance for stories - stories that I'll never know if she wrote or only imagined writing. She'd wanted me to tell her a secret from my dreams, a secret from my dreams I hadn't had as yet, and so I didn't quite understand what she was after. "It's about feeling, " Camille had insisted. I didn't understand then that she was talking about risk.
It's a beautiful religion and I wish I understood it more. No, I don't want to understand it all. It's beautiful because it's always a mystery. Sometimes I say I don't believe in God and Jesus and Mary. I'm a bad Catholic because I miss mass once in a while and I grumble when, at confession, I get a heavy penance for something I couldn't help doing. But good or bad, I am a Catholic and I'll never be anything else. Of course, I didn't ask to be born Catholic, no more than I asked to be born American. But I'm glad it turned out that I'm both these things.
Dogs, lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.
Is there such a thing as a life without any regrets? I've never believed so. We spend our lives aiming for happiness and fulfilment in work, in love and with our friends and family, and yet often our energy is spent lamenting bad boyfriends, wrong career turns, fallouts with friends and opportunities missed. Or is that just me? I admit I'm naturally a glass-half-empty kind of girl, but I know regrets are a burden to happiness and I'm trying to let go of them because I've learned that it's all about choice. You can choose to turn regrets into lessons that change your future. Believe me when I say I'm really trying to do this. But the truth is, I'm failing. Because all I can think right now is: maybe I deserve it. Maybe this is my penance.
No one's fated or doomed to love anyone. The accidents happen, we're not heroines, they happen in our lives like car crashes, books that change us, neighborhoods we move into and come to love. Tristan and Isolde is scarcely the story, women at least should know the difference between love and death. No poison cup, no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder not merely played but should have listened to us, and could instruct those after us: this we were, this is how we tried to love, and these are the forces they had ranged against us, and these are the forces we had ranged within us, within us and against us, against us and within us.
We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue, a time to pull up weeds or to plant good seeds. Which is better is clear, for the Christian ideal is always positive rather than negative. A person is great not by the ferocity of his hatred of evil, but by the intensity of his love for God. Asceticism and mortification are not the ends of a Christian life; they are only the means. The end is charity. Penance merely makes an opening in our ego in which the Light of God can pour. As we deflate ourselves, God fills us. And it is God's arrival that is the important event.
Fulton J. Sheen
Germany has spent the decades since World War II in national penance for Nazi crimes. America spent the decades after the Civil War transforming Confederate crimes into virtues. It is illegal to fly the Nazi flag in Germany. The Confederate flag is enmeshed in the state flag of Mississippi.
It is tragic to see how the religious sentiment of the West has become so individualized that concepts such as "a contrite heart, " have come to refer only to the personal experiences of guilt and willingness to do penance for it. The awareness of our impurity in thoughts, words and deeds can indeed put us in a remorseful mood and create in us the hope for a forgiving gesture. But if the catastrophical events of our days, the wars, mass murders, unbridled violence, crowded prisons, torture chambers, the hunger and the illness of millions of people and he unnamable misery of a major part of the human race is safely kept outside the solitude of our hearts, our contrition remains no more than a pious emotion.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
Now are the days, of humblest prayer,When consciences to God lie bare,And mercy most delights to spare.Oh hearken when we cry.Now is the season, wisely long,Of sadder thought and graver song,When ailing souls grow well and strong.Oh hearken when we cry.The feast of penance! Oh so bright,With true conversion's heavenly light,Like sunrise after stormy night!Oh hearken when we cry.Oh happy time of blessed tears,Of surer hopes, of chast'ning fears,Undoing all our evil years.Oh hearken when we cry.Chastise us with Thy fear;Yet, Father! in the multitudeOf Thy compassions, hear!
Frederick William Faber