Monday, March 9, 2009

Unless you do penance, you shall perish...

Because we have misused our goods, our souls and bodies - as well as those of others - the natural law requires us to strive to restore the order we have disturbed by our sins. Thus, the natural law and the Divine law bind us in a general way to perform acts of penance. In order to help us fulfill this requirement, Holy Mother Church, knowing our weakness and laziness, binds us under ecclesiastical laws to perform works of penance at certain times.

Throughout the centuries, these ecclesiastical laws have changed, sometimes becoming more strict, sometimes relaxing the discipline of penance. Regardless of the changes to the Church laws, which exist to make our obedience to the natural and Divine laws of penance easier, the fundamental requirement remains: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5). "Requirement for Penitential Days Under Present Church Law" details the bare minimum of penance which we must accomplish if we are to hope to stay out of mortal sin. Nevertheless, we can still easily fall into mortal sin if we confine our entire penance for the year to those days and acts required by the current law.

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