To teach the grey earth like a child,
To bid the heavens repent,
I only ask from Fate the gift
Of one man well content.
Him will I find: though when in vain
I search the feast and mart,
The fading flowers of liberty,
The painted masks of art.
I only find him at the last,
On one old hill where nod
Golgotha’s ghastly trinity —
Three persons and one god.
-“The Happy Man” by G.K. Chesterton
So penance is for loving. Penance is for atoning. Penance is for identification. The only reason I can engage in penance, or desire to, is because I love. No other reason should ever be in my mind. I am not doing penance and mortification because I want to earn God’s love or to deflate the wrath of God. There is no wrath. God is merciful. I don’t have to do penances in order to appear a little holier than the other person. That would destroy me totally.
We have to think of fasting and penance as two hands that are lifted up to God in petition, glorification, and above all, love. For when we lift those hands up, we enter into a mystery beyond our kenning. It seems to me that when I lift my hands, the hands of the Father lift me up, for he has beheld his Son fasting and enduring.
Servant of God Catherine Doherty (source)
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Curated by Christy Isinger. You can find out more about her here.