The Best Penance I Ever Got


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


About Author

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a Catholic wife and home educating mom by vocation, and a writer and editor by profession. Among her different roles, she believes that her most important "work" is to be a helpmate to her husband, and to raise her kids to be "Kingdom-Seekers." Find out more about Tina through her website: Truly Rich and Blessed.


  1. Pingback: The Week and Day That Was: What Matters Most

  2. What a great penance, Tina. I always feel like the penances I get aren’t “enough,” but I guess that’s the point.

    Thanks for the invitation to think about this more! 🙂

  3. Beautiful article Tina ! Thank you…
    Best penance I ever received was “tell Jesus you want to become a saint…no matter what the cost”

  4. Wise priest! Mine was demonstrate a great act of patience with a person you have been impatient with! Blessings on your day!

  5. With our crazy, busy schedules and trying to keep up with three kids, my husband and I were drifting apart. Our wonderful priest gave the me penance of “A Date Night With Your Husband.” I’ll never forget it.

  6. After revealing that I was getting more and more angry and frustrated with my children, a visiting priest told me for my penance to go home and bake chocolate chip cookies with the kids.
    Best. Priest. Ever.

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