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For the Final Fantasy boss, see Penance (Final Fantasy).

Penance is the actual name of the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation/ Confession. In this Sacrament, the penitent (sinner) accuses himself of his sins to an ordained priest. The priest may then offer advice and imposes a particular penance to be performed. The penitent then prays an Act of Contrition, the priest administers absolution, thus formally forgiving the penitent of his sins, and finally sends him out with words of dismissal.

Penance, as imposed during the Sacrament, may consist in prayers, fasting, or the giving of alms. The most common penances are prayers, such as an Our Father and Hail Mary.

Penance also may be self-imposed, as during the Lenten fast and Advent. Self-imposed penance, also called mortification serves to detach the penitent of his worldly passions, as to draw him into closer union with God.

In eastern religions (Hinduism, etc.), acts of hardship committed on oneself (fasting, lying on rocks heated by the Sun, etc.) in order to attain a higher form of mental awareness or favours from the Gods.

Penance in fiction

  • Colin Kapp. 1972, 1973. Patterns of Chaos. New York: Award Books. No ISBN. Pp. 31–36.

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