The Power of Penance

The Power of Penance

Posted by: on March 16, 2016   |Comments (0)|Worship

By guest blogger Robby Degre ’17

Lent is a season of Penance. Strictly speaking, Merriam-Webster defines penance as “a voluntary self punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for doing something wrong.” However, to the Catholic it should take on a much more important role, especially during this liturgical season. From the very first day, the importance of penance is highlighted through the imposition of ashes. As the cross is drawn on one’s forehead, the priest says, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you will return,” which is more then just a grim saying. Instead, it highlights from the very beginning the importance of the season that we are entering. As we begin the season of repentance, we are reminded that our lives are finite, and therefore that the penance upon which we are about to embark is crucial to ensure our everlasting salvation.

When it comes to living penance during this season, there are a variety of examples that are put before us, most notably that of Jesus in the desert, where He faced the temptations of Satan. These temptations came, not in the form of extraordinary or outlandish lures, but instead through common every day desires. As Fr. Philip Neri highlighted in a recent homily, these common temptations are the ones that we face every day, and for many of us, Lent provides a time to fast from these things. Whether we chose to give up the dessert table in Ray, set up a bedtime to ensure we get enough sleep, or even face the grueling torment of trying to eat healthy, we strive to imitate Jesus in His trials. Through this imitation of Jesus, the Catholic is led through a spiritual battle toward maturity, which extends throughout the entirety of their life.

To aid in this life long battle, we as Catholics have also been given the Sacrament of Reconciliation which takes on a whole new meaning during this season. Also known as the Sacrament of Penance, this relies upon the individual willingly coming before God, in the person of the priest, and confessing their sins. Through this, not only do we acknowledge what we have done wrong, but we are forgiven through the ministry of the Church and then sent forth into the world to do penance. However, this penance is something unique from the self imposed penances that Lent encourages us to undertake. It is given to us by the priest, and is often something that is designed to focus on and combat whatever sins we have been struggling with. In this Lenten season, this Sacrament is of the utmost importance, since through it God takes away the sting of our failures and our mistakes.

Throughout this season of Lent, as Catholics we must be willing to make sacrifices, both small and big, so that we can truly allow penance to become part of our prayer lives. By willingly restricting ourselves during this Lenten season, as well as entrusting ourselves to the good will of the priest during Reconciliation, we can truly transform our lives, one step at a time.

By guest blogger Robby Degre ’17 Lent is a season of Penance. Strictly speaking, Merriam-Webster defines penance as “a voluntary... MORE

Wake Up, Flawed; Wake Up, Loved

Posted by: on March 8, 2016   |Comments (0)|Worship

By guest blogger Bridgette Clarke ’18

I began Lent with great aspirations. I was ambitious and thought that I could really do it this year. I would stick to my Lenten promise, pray every morning, and serve God perfectly. To spin-off of Beyoncé’s mantra, I would wake up, pray; wake up, flawless.

However, in these first days of Lent, I have awoken and have failed, breaking my Lenten promise countless times. Spoiler alert, I am a sinner. I am imperfect, broken, and flawed.

Over the years I have noticed that during Lent I frequent the Confessional the most. Perhaps it is because during Lent the priest will promote the sacrament of Confession often; however, maybe there is something more to this story. In Lent, we deny ourselves a worldly possession that fills a certain place in our lives. When we no longer fill our beings with this item—whether it be social media or chocolate—we create a gap within ourselves. More than any other time in the year, we face our vulnerability and desiring for some kind of goodness that fulfills us, which causes us to seek an appealing good that can be found in the form of sin. No matter how many times we fill this need with something of this world, whether it be something good or something sinful, we still crave and still continue to desire, which prompts us to question. We ask, “Maybe this gap is and was never meant to be filled with goods of this world but with complete, satisfying goodness?”

I desire Goodness, God who is complete Goodness Himself, but sometimes—in fact all of the time—I just cannot seem to attain this by myself. Why? Because I am not Christ. I cannot fight off demons and temptation like a boss. I am weak. I am little. I am a child. However, despite all of this, I am loved.

I am loved by a God who loves me so much and desires my absolute happiness that can only be found in union with Him. Therefore He draws me to Himself through the sacrament of Confession. He is reaching out to me and pulling me toward Himself in order to receive His grace and love because He alone knows that He is what will rest my restless heart. He knows that I am a sinner. He knows that I am not perfect. How often we are afraid to accept this for ourselves, and yet if only we accepted our weakness, we could harness our great strength which comes from His love and mercy. This greatness is at our fingertips, if only we reach out and cling to Him. Consider this, that God is madly in love with you. In Him, you are made flawless.

The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we cannot make ourselves saints. In a homily, Fr. Justin Brophy once said that in the healing stories of the Bible there are always two kinds of people mentioned. There are those who—knowing their own weakness—reach out to Him, grab the tassels of his clothes, and are healed. Then, there are those who stand by and watch. Who will you be? Reach out and be made flawless in God’s salvific love.

By guest blogger Bridgette Clarke ’18 I began Lent with great aspirations. I was ambitious and thought that I could... MORE