What are some examples of penances?

What types of penances does a priest ask a confessioner to perform? I’ve not made my first confession yet and I have been wondering about this. I think I know I’ll not bhe asked to say…walk on broken glass, etc., but what are types of penances for forgiveness of mortal sin. For example, for a mortal sin of say…thinking thinking…adultery, what penance would the pastor request? For a sin of stealing, would the penance be to make compensation, ask for forgiveness, etc? For the sin of taking God’s name in vain, what types of penances? For the sin of missing church?

You see, I’m new with LOTS of questions. I think God for CA, you have given me so many answers these last few weeks.

Usually it is never big enough in my opinion.
One time I was asked to say a whole rosary (that was when I confessed my apostate years away from the Catholic Church)
Usually it’s just something like 3 Hail Marys.

I wish instead they would make me wear a hair shirt. :smiley:
or do some acts of self mortification. Shoot, apparently my penance isn’t big enough, because I keep on doing the same things over and over again.:frowning:

Oh graceand glory – thank you. I always enjoy your posts. Hair shirt :smiley: :smiley: I remember your being the “re-vert” too!

Well a follow-up question about penance, is how would 3 Hail Marys be a penance when the person regulary says for the rosary (for example).

Considering about one or two or my sins, I was wondering about the walk on hot coals or being sent to a missin in Antartica or something!!! :eek:

I have two never ending penances.

They are to ‘take care of myself’ and to ‘embrace change’.

You don’t have to think about what sin deserves what penance. The priest gives a penance and you simply accept it. Mostly it is prayers.

My former pastor almost always gave “one Our Father” as a penance. One day, after confession, I looked over at my 11 year old and asked if he was ready to go. He tells me, “I think I have about 58 more minutes.” I guess he got the “one Hour Father”. :smiley:

I had one of those hair-raising haven’t been to confession in a long time confessions, and I don’t even remember what the penance was. Something like reflecting on the goodness of God.

Recent penances have included practicing some kind of self-denial for a day and offering it for my family, and spending some time in prayer thanking God for the gift of His Mercy.

There is nothing we can ever do to make up for our sins or to deserve forgiveness.

I love it the “One HOUR Father”. I laughed so hard my husband came to see what I was laughing about. Now I’m conrfused though. There are penances, but I’m not understading what “plenary” is. Also, what is “venial”? I know about "mortal :eek: " sins, but what is a “venial sin”. And what IS an indulgence. I went to a web site about “indulgences” but sill don’t understand. You see – nthese are things a re-vert wants to know!!!

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Penances given out depends pretty much on the priest. Sometimes could be a part of scripture, like the Sunday’s Gospel, mostly short prayers. Although I was given 1 decade of the rosary last week. Not very tough though. I always like the creative penances where we are asked to do something like being nice to somebody that drives us crazy or something like that related to our sins.

There’s a ton of stuff on indulgences on the web, but basically by going to confession, saying certain prayers, ect. we are released from time spent in purgatory (my short answer anyway).

Good Luck!

Good friend told me his penance … after confessing he felt he wasn’t paying enough attention to his wife & sometimes taking her for granted.

Father told him to buy a bouquet of flowers on the way home, then take her to a romantic dinner at the earliest time, preferably that night. :slight_smile:

So I went to the dictionary – so a “plenary indulgence” then is “foregiveness?” My formally blockhead protestant brain is having a hard time figuring this out. Maybe I need caffeine.:smiley:

Not really, plenary indulgence is

plenary indulgence
n. Roman Catholic Church
An indulgence that remits the full temporal punishment incurred by a sinner.

More of the result of prayers/confession/good works, ect…temporal punishment as in time spent in purgatory. Again (my short answer)

I got a penance once to say something nice about myself three times a day for a week. I have to tell you it wasn’t easy at the time.


I lost the computer for couple of hours, but here’s better analogy. An indulgence is like a gift you receive from doing something good. So think of the going to confession, communion, prayers, ect as the good acts. In return, you receive the gift of the indulgence which in the church usually means time taken off from purgatory. Hope makes more sense. Pretty simplistic…

The penances I have received have been prayers. It’s hard to pray for someone that you are angry with, so having to pray for the well being of one who has hurt you can change your attitude toward that person. Any penance should have as its goal the antidote for the sin. If you are angry at a person, doing a good deed or praying for that person can open the heart to love. Repayment of a debt if you steal, spending time reading the Scripture if you have a sin of pornography, etc. The penance should make up for the harm done, and sow the seeds of a proper disposition which will allow the person to resist the temptation in the future.

Often I’m told to read a particular portion of Sacred Scripture. Most often to pray.

I too have thought the penances were to penitentiary enough. Then one time I was asked to read the Confessions of St. Augustine. :eek: That was by far the longest penance I’ve been given. Careful what you wish for. :wink:

but itsjustdave – at least it wasn’t walking across burning coals or a smelly old hair shirt…hahaha:D

I was once given the charge to “pray for the mothers of the parish” the priest did not give a time from so I prayed [in a particular manner, consciously as a penance] for the mothers in the parish for a year…

I have been given prayers and scripture readings but also actions that relate directly to ‘sin’ …

as an example: if I have spoke badly about someone or spoke words of anger to someone … then I have had to find positive/good thinks to say about them and/or tell them I am sorry for my harsh words and tell them good things about themselves … if they are not available then find someone to do this with …

Once I was given the charge to do some work for the disadvantaged … like work in a soup kitchen or at a homeless shelter …

A couple of times the priest has told me to suggest a penance … now that is hard! :o You are much harder on youself than the priest :shrug: maybe that was their point!

Even though I messed up my first confession (I froze up a bit, but still got abuot a half dozen sins off), my penance was 7 Hail Marys.

If it were me, I’d be saying all 4 mysteries of the Rosary, reading the entire gospel, reading the entire dairy of St. Faustina, Eucharistic Adoration, pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet novena, and a 54 day Rosary novena after confessing the other 25 years of sins that I need to confess. :slight_smile:

The point about penance is it should make us reflect on the mercy of God, who forgives us by His grace, not by our good works, because He still loves us. It shouldn’t make us hate ourselves, but should focus our eyes on Him.

A lot of people would like to be given harsh penances, wearing hair shirts, fasting, etc. but that’s a misunderstanding. It’s also dangerously close to believing that we are able to pay for the eternal consequences of our own sins, which none of us can!

The way someone once explained it to me, the old penitential manuals priests used in the medieval Church used equivalents in days’ ‘fasting’ as the way to measure penances, because this was like the minimum currency of the Church. Going without food doesn’t do a lot of good in itself, so it’s the least powerful way of making spiritual progress. For example, the simplest prayer, crossing yourself and saying “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen” carried an indulgence equivalent to 7 years’ fasting!

Prayer, almsgiving, scripture reading, or nearly any other positive good work will always be worth more as penance than fasting and self-denial.

Perhaps it’s worth noting that if your priest gives you 1 Our Father as penance, in the old penitentials that was considered the equivalent to 15 years’ (or is it 10 years?) fasting! It’s not that we’re being let off easy, just that what is impossible for man is possible for God.

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