A Catholic perspective on the necessity of Penance tells us that he who violates the temple of God, he should be either destroyed or cleansed by the groaning of penance.
If anyone wishes to meditate on the purgative way
he must take into account what ought to happen
to a man who has violated the temple of God.
Our conscience tells us…that you are that man, therefore you should either be damned or be punished by the goad of penance.
Destroying the temple of God…Think about it. You would say: “I would never go into a beautiful cathedral, I would never go to Saint Peter’s and just throw paint on the walls and take a jackhammer to the beautiful marble floor, I would never do that”. Anybody in here ever had a mortal sin? you did worse. You did worse than ever throwing paint on the walls of Saint Peter’s or taking a jackhammer to the marble flooring.
So we looked at the common sense we looked at the conscience now the Will…The Will makes the choice, because it rejects eternal damnation, it undertakes willingly the Sorrows of penance
This is why we undertake penance…even if you’ve worked off all of your sins you still keep saying sorry. You keep saying sorry, and that’s what our Penance is…we keep saying sorry and we prove it. We punish ourselves, we prove it.
On the necessity of penance…Saint Bonaventure says there are many enemies of the light who do not care about purging out the darkness of their sins by Contrition of heart since according to Saint John chapter 3, 19 “they love the darkness rather than the light”
Proverbs says “who can say my heart is clean I am pure I am pure from sin?” No one can say that they are clean and they’re pure from sin. If we say that we have no sin, Saint John says, we have deceived ourselves and the truth is not in us.
So we reflect on sin in three different ways:
Penance as a necessity for wiping out the stain of sin,
Penance as a necessity for gaining the kingdom of heaven and
Penance for gaining lost graces.
Everyone must confess a three-fold culpability: that he has offended the Lord, that he has slain himself, and that he has scandalized his neighbor; these are the three culpabilities that we have…by not granting to each due justice.
Justice is when you give to everybody what is their due, and when we’re sinning either against ourselves, our neighbor or the Lord we’re culpable (and all sins have to do either with our Lord yourself or your neighbor). Neither honor to God nor care to self nor love to his neighbor…you’ve given none of these and so therefore you’ve sinned against Justice.
Therefore we ought to do penance.
Penance is necessary for wiping out the stain of sin. If you think about it is it possible to clean a garment without washing it? And if you think about how they used to wash the garments in the past…think about the work involved with getting their garments clean and yet we think I’ll just go to confession, I’ll say three Hail Marys and I’m fine.
Yeah you’ve been forgiven but you haven’t done the Penance, you did the sacramental Penance but you haven’t gotten the Garment clean yet, you still got a dirty garment, you’re just forgiven.
Remember Grandma’s dishes…the dishes all break you say sorry and grandma says “that’s okay I understand”…you still gotta repair all that damage, not only cleaning it up but getting a job in the summertime and then paying off and buying new dishes….it’s going to take you 10 years, it’s a lot of work.
We need to keep cleaning the Garment through our penance.
Penance is necessary for gaining lost Grace… from St Bonaventure…“in order that sin be cast out and Grace brought in: the Free Will must conform itself to the expulsion of the fault by a hatred of all sin”…a hatred of all sin first and foremost…we have to regain lost Grace.
Penance is necessary for gaining the kingdom of heaven
…So it’s necessary for getting rid of the stain, it’s necessary for gaining lost Grace, and it’s necessary for gaining the kingdom of heaven.
Saint Jerome says that Penance is like a plank after a shipwreck. What does that mean? We’ve never been in a shipwreck…but we’ve seen movies. St Paul for a night and a day was in the midst of the sea…probably on a plank of wood…saved his life.
Penance is like a plank of wood in a shipwreck…it saves our life.
It gains us the kingdom of heaven, Apocalypse 2, 5 says “remember therefore whence thou has fallen and repent and do thy former works”
If you cannot be saved by innocence, Saint Bonaventure tells us if you cannot be saved by innocence, strive to be saved by penance.
If you cannot be a Catherine or a Cecilia, these are the Saints…do not disdain to be Mary Magdalene or Mary of Egypt. If you’re not able to win Heaven because you’ve never stained your baptismal robe…then win it like Mary Magdalene…if you ever see pictures of her unfortunately they always show her naked because she was a prostitute….but they also show her scourging herself, living in a cave, with a skull in her hand…she won Heaven by penance…and love, her repentance came From Love.
Listen to the full conference here: https://youtu.be/A0uDY7uRfFA