I recently had the opportunity to go to confession. It was a wonderful time to be blessed by this powerful sacrament (which, by the way, for those who aren’t in the know, is actually called the Sacrament of Penance) and I came away from it very much inspired and refreshed.
The priest gave me the best penance I have ever received so far. This is what he said to me after hearing me pour out my sins (and breaking down in tears), most of which revolved around my failures as a mother:
“For your penance, take care of your children.”
Yes, that’s all he said.
At first, I wanted to ask him, “Is that all, Father? Are you sure that’s it?”
But then I realized that taking care of my kids probably is “enough” for my penance. After all, penance, according to this useful page on Catholic News Agency, means
“also those punishments we inflict upon ourselves as a means of atoning for our past sins; it means likewise the disposition of the heart in which we detest and bewail our sins because they were offensive to God.”
Don’t get me wrong here — I don’t consider taking care of my kids as a “punishment” (OK, well maybe on some days I do!). But I do believe that the penance we do should remind us of God’s unconditional love and never-ending patience.
In that sense, then, caring for my children can be the best penance because to pour out my love for them would be my way of thanking God for His kindness and forgiveness. It is my way of carrying the cross, especially on days when I am stressed out and need to pause and pray. It is also my way of celebrating God’s goodness, especially on days when my children achieve milestones in life and learning.
Having said that, I think I’ll do my best to go to confession again soon — I can’t wait to hear what the priest will give for my penance!
What’s the best penance you’ve ever received? Come share it with us in the comments!
Copyright 2014 Tina Santiago-Rodriguez