Penance revives baptism. It is a renewed vital covenant with God, from which humility springs.
Penance also means uninterrupted suspicions in the face of the recalls of the body, self-criticism, self-protection without anxiety as a daughter of hope and denial of despair.
On the bitter and sincere penance of the Saints who declare their conscious life and on the prison they condemn.
Invitation to Penance. Nature and Effects:
Who does penance is condemned and yet has no shame, because it reconciles with the Lord through Holy Behaviors, completely opposed to the sinful ones. Penance purifies the conscience and implies a free and patient acceptance of the afflictions of all kinds, because it is who repents wants to work as a punisher of himself. Therefore penance also means making violence to your own stomach and settling strokes to your soul by virility involving all sensibility.
You come and go, it is time to listen to what I am about to tell you, or you all that you have moved to God's anger Gather in the assembly, pay attention to what he has revealed to me for your edification. First of all, let us remember with veneration the honored servants of God made the object of mockery; we listen, we preserve in the heart and observe with the facts their teachings how many we have experienced some reprehensible fall experience. Then, prostrate because of the falls, stand up and been rights; Beware of my words, my brethren, condolences, to you who with a true conversion want to reconcile you with God.
Doing penance at Tanobo: amid despair hope.
I, poor me, had heard of a serious and strange condition of life that beat humiliated some of the solitary department called jail, dependent on the remembered ascetic illumination of the place. So while I was there, I prayed that holy man be able to visit. He allowed me, not wanting to be please in anything; and so I went to the dwelling of the penitents, a veritable place of the compunction, where I really saw things that--if it is not too much to say so--distracted man's eye ever saw, neither careless man's ear ever heard, nor man's heart hesitant dared imagine, an act and a talk such as to force the same God, practical ways of life capable of bending it soon clemency.
I saw some of those called to realize what they were innocent about staying the night up in the morning in the open air making violence with miserable effort to the natural need of sleep, without indulging any relaxation, indeed to wake up, covering of battering and uncovering. I saw some of them tending their eyes to heaven and with groans and sighs invoke help from above and certain others that with their hands tied behind the back in the manner of the condemned, they prayed dark in their faces and folded down as they judged unworthy to raise their eyes to heaven and without saying a word or sound or prayer to God, under the weight of their thoughts and consciousness of awareness incapable of words of arguments with which to pray, and full of turbid confusion and light despair, raising to God only the benighted spirit and the unexpressed thought. I found some who were lying on the floor over sacks and ashes hiding the face between his knees and slamming on the earth the forehead, others who repeatedly beat the chest recalling cases of their souls and their lives.
Among them all, some of them bathed in their tears the floor, others lacking in tears inflicted a beating; Some cried out their pain for the condition of their own soul failing to contain it in the chest, others were braking the noisy lamentation crying in the heart's innermost, though sometimes they could no longer restrain. I saw then who behaved and fixed his thoughts as if he had come out of hindsight; whoever was almost insensible to mortgage all the needs of life and then sank into an abyss of humiliation, destroyed intimately by the anguish that revealed with tears of the eyes points, who was lying with the bowed head that wiggled uninterruptedly, in the guise of a lion showing his teeth with cries of fierce ferocity.
Contrite and humiliated, amid cries and supplications:
Who prayed full of hope as he could to obtain remission, who feeling unworthy with ineffable humility, issued a judgment of condemnation for himself crying that he did not find arguments to justify himself. Who implored the Lord to punish him down here and used him mercy up there; those who crushed by the weight of consciousness were utterly unworthy both of being corrected by punishment and being rewarded in the kingdom. Everyone prayed: Preserve Our Lord. Those souls that I saw humble and contrite were so oppressed under the burden of the torments that would arouse the compunction also of the stones, so many were the cries and supplications that raised to God, as they added with the face bowed to the ground: "Yes, the Know; we recognize that we are no longer worthy of punishment; we deserve it rightly, because we are not able in time to believe in the multitude of our sins, even when we weep with all the earth; we pray only, you will beseech, you saying: Do not punish us according to your fury, do not punish us according to your wrath, but save us and preserve us from your great threat, free us from the unspeakable judgment wrapped in the mystery of your righteousness; We cannot, in fact, ask you for full remission, because we have not kept ourselves blameless according to the profession made, indeed we have been stained with so many sins even after being already the object of your mercy and forgiveness.".
They curved and bent:
There you really could meditate on the words of David about those until the death bent and curved, that all day are wandering sad treating the putrid plagues of their body yet leaving them stinking, and forget about the natural food, they drink their mixed water of tears, instead of bread eat dust and ashes, and so have the bones attached to the skin, dry as dry hay. Among them heard nothing but this rumor: "Woe, woe! Oh Oh! It's right, it's right! Lord Forgive! “Some cried out, "Pity, Pity!", and others arousing truly pity they repeated: "Lord Mercy, for Thou art merciful." You could have seen that scene! Who put out the parched language as the dogs do; that was tormented by exposing himself to the scorching rays; who would submit instead to the cold chilling. Some as soon as they had cost a little water just not to die of thirst, they stopped immediately; others as soon as they had ingested a little bread, with the same hand they threw him away saying unworthy to take as men of the food, they had operated as beasts.
It was a place, where it never shone a smile, where it never felt an idle word, resentful or indignant, where it was not known even if among men can exist the wrath because the perfect compunction eliminates all indignation. There was no discussion, no partying or excessive freedom. Where ever one who cared about his body, or showed evidence of a glory? Where ever one who went in search of delicacies hoping to reach again? Who ever thought to drink wine or to taste a fruit, to console themselves between the pots or to try the throat? Those people, in fact, had turned off by now the desire for such possible earthly satisfactions. No one cared about it, but it was not for this to make a judge of others. No one in that place ever allowed to criticize, they did not speak aloud with the Lord, some beating his chest as before the door of heaven and thus begging God: "open to us oh good judge, open to us because we have finished with those sins, open to us"; Others only pray, "show us your face and we shall be saved"; One say, "show yourselves to us that we sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" The other replicate: "Lord, let us soon reach your mercy, because we have received despair because of our inexcusable shortcomings." One wondered, "Will the Lord finally visit us?"; other: "Has our soul passed the insurmountable point? Who finally consoles the Lord? We will hear his voice announcing to us tied with inextricable knots: "Get", to us submerged in the abyss of sorrow: "Exits"? Did our cries come to the Lord's ears?".
Terrors and hopes:
All then they had uninterruptedly presented to their eyes the thought of death. They wondered, "To what fate do we meet? What is our ruling? Where are we going to end? Who will call to himself? Who will give remission for us wrapped in the darkness, miserable condemned? Will our prayer come to the Lord's sight, or will he be rightly refused, humiliated and shameless? If he comes to his side, how much will it affect to appease him? What will it gain, how much it shall be, how much strength it is, made by mouths and by impure bodies, certainly not very authoritative? How far did you reconcile us with the judge, in whole or in part? It has healed us halfway through our sores, because they require too serious with more groans? Are our caretakers already close to us, or are they still away from us? If, in fact, they do not assist us, our compunction will be totally useless, vain. Because our prayer alone does not have the energy to rise freely as children of God on the wings of purity, our angels are approaching us to raise them to the Lord.".
Some often manifested each other's anguish, asking, for example, "Where are we, brethren? Does the Lord listen to our prayer, receive us again, and reopen the door?"; and here's what others replied: "As our Nineteenths brothers said, who knows, somehow the Lord will change his sentence. But even if he redeems us by giving us a terrible punishment, we will also have to do something! For He opens us, blessed us, and blessed the Lord God, who rightly excluded us; we never cease to knock as long as we are alive, and perhaps by fury of embarrassment we will induce him to open."
So the one was to wake up to the other with such exhortation: "Let's run, brothers, let's run, you must run safely to retrieve the holy journey of this traveling community, run without saving our unclean and miserable flesh, killing him as you did to us, according to the example of the saints who lived in obedience. " Oh, what a show you saw! His knees are cramped for the many genuflections of sunken and destroyed eyebrows and cheeky cheeks, corroded by the tears of fire, emaciated and pale faces that are no different from those of the corpses, the aching breasts for the beats; the sparks of blood also revealed the blows that were on the chest.
Severe behaviors before and after death in the homeland of penance:
Where was the bed to lie down and a clean garment not worn out? They wore robes and lazy shelter of insects, but did not act as possessed or as those who mourn the dead, like exiles or condemned by assassination; between the pains suffered by these and those of our volunteers there is no comparison! And do not think, brothers, please tell me how much that I read is a fairy tale. They often prayed to the great judge who held the Cenoby as Shepherd Angelo for putting the irons on the wrists and neck, the straps on their feet as condemned, not allowing them to move and melt themselves out until the time of the burial, though they would buried.
I do not want to, there, and I cannot conceal the gesture that follows, reveals the tremendous humiliations upon which those saints and their spirits sparked with charity and contrition before God. When they were already about to make the soul to the Lord and present themselves to his righteous tribunal, those holy citizens of the homeland of penance, coming to the end in the end before everyone, each by his particular purpose, prayed to the superior, wishing him not to give them a burial worthy of men, but a worthy beast , in the stream of a river or a field where they could end up in the fairs. The request that often with polished discernment was fulfilled, ordering that they were brought to the burial without any boldness and without funeral.
Terror of judgment abnormally to assist the dying.
What a tremendous and worthy show of commiseration was their last hour! Every time that those penitents felt that some of them were going before them for eternity, they wandered around him while he was still in him, ardent by tears, with gestures of passion and expression of gloomy pain, shaking the head questioned the dying person so to express the pain that burned them in, "How do you feel, brother of the companion of penance? What can you tell us? How do you think your hope will be fulfilled? Do you believe that you have reached what you offer with so many troubles or did you not succeed? Did you open the door or are you still holding it to account? Did you reach or not? Do you have the most reliable security or have you a vague hope? Have you got your freedom or tumultuous thoughts hesitant in your mind? Have your heart lit up or still wrapped in darkness and ignominy? You have heard the voice that intimately announces that you are now cured, that your sins have been forgiven and that your faith has saved you or you still hear the other voice that says to you: sinners must go to hell, tie them up from the feet, the wicked is taken away from here, because he does not see the glory of the Lord? Tell me clearly, brother; let us know, we pray you, because we also know the end that awaits us; because the game is closed to you and it will never be useful to you. "Some of those who answered were asked:" Blessed be the Lord who did not reject my prayer and did not refuse my mercy. "Others assured to repent: "Blessed is the Lord who has not delivered us to the beast or given us to his teeth." But others still painfully questioned as before: "Will our souls pass through the unequalled torrent of the spirits of the air? "They were in the midst of the mistrust thinking of the report that we will have to do in the end! There were those who even more distressed responded to that interrogation:" Woe to the soul that did not faithfully follow the vocation! Only then will it be known which penalty is reserved to him.".
Yet that repentance seemed acceptable to the prisoners.
To see and hear all this, I was with them to make me despairing, because I found my indifference especially if I compared them to their spirit of mortification, to see what kind of life they had chosen to live in that place, all dark all smelly, all messy and miserable, rightly called prison and penitentiary as it turned out to be a true land of penitence, as a magisterium of compunction. Yet those nobles, who were spiritually deprived of the wealth of virtue, life, for others difficult and unbearable, seemed pleasant or acceptable. In fact, a private soul of the freedom of the children of God often loses hope of reaching apathy; having broken the seal of virginity and having been plundered of so rich charities, is alienated by divine consolations; having violated the covenant with a lord and being out of the shade of the holy fire of spiritual tears, remains frustrated at their memory.
Then traversed by sorrow, conceives compunction, the soul not only accepts all the impulses we have talked about, but does everything to consume itself in asceticism. It reminds itself of the flames of love and fear of Lord. So did those blessed. Of this, having full heart, recalling to what height they had fallen, some said, "We remember the days when our care was to keep that fire"; others cried out to God, "Where am I, Oh Lord, the traits of mercy on your word once promised to our soul? Remember the sorrows and the travails of your servants"; and others: "Who can bring me the month of the times when God kept me and shining in my heart the ray of your light?" This is how they remembered their primitive holiness of life, weeping as children unable to express them altogether.
They murmured: "Where did we end pure prayer and confident freedom, sweet tears and loving like now, the hope of total chastity or purification, the expectation of beatific apathy, full confidence in the shepherd and the benefits of his prayer for us "Everything is over, disappeared as if it had ever existed!" And while they were crying like this, some were pretending as invaders, others succumbed to the lord as having fallen ill; some hoped to lose their eyes and look miserable, others to be powerless and oppressed by torments down here not to have to try it out there. There, my dear ones, in that place of compunction, I forgot myself with my mind all over them with an irresistible impulse that I could not dominate.
An example of a healthy confession
After being in the jail for about thirty days, I was eager to get away to return to the Great Cenoby by the great shepherd. And seeing me, almost alienated and out of me, and having realized that the great wise who was, what kind of my alienation, he asked me, "What is it, Father John? Struggle to exhaustion? "And I: "Not only I have observed it, but I have been torn apart! I assure you that I have magnified in my heart these fallen deeds more than those who have not fallen do not give up for compunction, because of the falls they have raised and an upper stage safe from the risk of falling.".