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Only two more weeks of Lent are left. All of us are happy that Easter is so near. This means that there are only l2 more days left of Lenten fasting and abstinence.

It will help us, I believe, to appreciate the Lenten penance more easily, if we understand that penance is a tax that we must pay to Godís justice for our sins. As soon as I mention the word tax, especially at this time of year, I hear a shudder run through the congregation. There was an article in a magazine that I read about taxation, in which there was a statement to this effect: "The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose, as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with least amount of hissing."

So in regard to performing our Lenten penance: the art of performing our Lenten penance consists in so performing them as to obtain the greatest amount of spiritual good with the least amount of complaining. Penance belongs to justice. Certainly, the vast majority of people are ready and willing to pay a just debt.

We have spoken of the Sacrament of Penance. Today, I wish to speak of the virtue of penance. Penance is defined as a supernatural virtue, allied to justice, which inclines the sinners to detest their sins because they are an offense against God, and to form the firm resolve of avoiding sins in the future, and of making atonement for them. In the practice of the virtue of penance, we should be influenced by four basic ideas:

(l) In the light of reason and of faith we see that sin is an evil, the greatest evil, the only evil. This evil we hate with our whole soul. "I have loved justice and hateth evil".

(2) Conscious that this evil is ours, since we have sinned, and that even once forgiven, its traces remain in our souls; we should conceive a lively sorrow, a sorrow that weighs upon and crushes the soul, with sincere contrition, and a deep sense of humiliation.

(3) Resolution to avoid this heinous evil in the future, carefully shunning dangerous occasions of sin and by fortifying our wills against the allurements of sinful pleasures.

(4) Realizing that sin constitutes an act of injustice, we determine to atone for it, to expiate it by sentiments and works of penance.

WHAT ARE THESE WORKS OF PENANCE: 1. The submissive, willing and joyful acceptance of all the crosses Providence may see fit to send us. 2. The faithful discharging of the duties of our state of life in a spirit of penance and reparation. 3. Fasting and almsgiving.

One day a friend of St. Peter of Alcantara was bewailing the wickedness of people, and St. Peter replied, "The remedy is simple. You and I must first be what we ought to be; then we shall have cured what concerns ourselves. Let each one do the same, and all will be well. The trouble is that we all talk of reforming others without ever thinking of reforming ourselves."

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Copyright © 1995-2019, Father Scannell. All rights reserved.