1902 Encyclopedia > Penance


PENANCE. The word "penance" (pcenitentia) has a double signification,—its strict legal meaning of a penalty inflicted by the formal sentence of a spiritual authority in punishment of an offence, and with the primary object of amending and so benefiting the offender; and its wider and more popular sense of any ascetic practice adopted, whether voluntarily or under compulsion, for the expiation of sin or for advance in spiritual attainment. Broadly speaking, no trace of such a theory is visible in classical paganism, from which the idea of sin as a moral defile-ment is almost absent. There are faint marks discernible in the Greek heroic legends of something analogous to penance, when we read of a hero being driven into exile for some crime (most usually unpremeditated homicide), and not permitted to return till he had found some one able and willing to purify him with certain lustral sacrifices. In the historical period these, lustral sacrifices continue, but the accompanying penalty disappears. Punishments for religious offences, and of a very severe kind, extending to death itself, as in the case of Socrates, are frequent, but they are not of the nature of penance, not having the amendment of the offender in view, but only the safety of the state, to be secured by an act of vengeance designed to avert the anger of the gods and to prevent the repetition of the crime believed likely to invoke it. The Oriental religions, contrariwise, teem with the ascetic principle, and personal austerities form a large part of the Zoroastrian, Buddhist, and Brahman systems. Yet, with the exception of the pilgrimages, which enter so deeply and widely into the religious habits of the peoples professing these creeds, and involve much toil and suffering in the case of the poorer pilgrims, these austerities are not of general inci-dence, but are confined to a comparatively small, and, so to say, professional body of devotees, such as the Indian Jogis, who are entirely distinct from the main body of their co-religionists. Islam had originally nothing even remotely like the practices in question, save in so far as the annual fast of Bamadan and the hajj to Mecca and other sacred places necessitated self-denial; and it is even on record that Mohammed himself directly discouraged an ascetic spirit which displayed itself in some of his trustiest companions and disciples, such as 'Omar, All, Abii-Dharr, and Abu-Horeirah. But the reaction of conquered Persia, long the home of Zoroastrian asceticism, on the Arab victors was marked and early, and an inner body of austere devotees arose in the midst of Mohammedanism within a century and a half of the Flight, though having no justifi-cation in the Koran or in the body of early tradition for their tenets and usages. They were in almost every instance of Persian origin, and the most famous of them all, the converted robber Fodheil Abu All Zalikhani, the Benedict of Islam, who first organized the scattered ascetics into the brotherhood of dervishes, was himself a Khorasani of pure descent. But, like the Indian Jogis, the Moham-medan dervishes and fakirs have continued as an isolated class, and have never exerted the kind of influence which Christian monachism, especially in the West, has done. Nor has the principle of penance ever formed an import-ant integer of the Jewish religion. The Levitical code enjoins the performance of various lustral sacrifices in expiation of certain sins; but the cost of the victims is the only element of penalty, being virtually a money fine On the offender. The prophets, while dwelling much on the necessity of repentance, of a moral change in the sinner, are almost entirely silent as to any accompanying acts and observances of an ascetic nature ; and, though occasional references to prolonged fastings and to the wearing of sackcloth as penitential exercises are found, yet they appear as exceptional and spontaneous, and not as part of an accredited system, nor as enjoined by any authority external to the devotee or penitent himself. Even under the Talmudic code there is no organized system of penance. The three degrees of excommunica-tion, niddui, cherem, and shammata, ascending from mere exclusion from the congregation for a month, through the stage of anathema, to that of public and ignominious expulsion from fellowship in Israel (and that at first irrevocably, though the penalty was afterwards relaxed), practically exhaust the code, since there are no formal provisions for inflicting other penalties, whatever voluntary observances may at any time have been superadded.

The Christian theory of penance ultimately rests on the view that the Christian church is the precise analogue of the Jewish people under the elder dispensation. As the Jews were the one family on earth in direct covenant with God, so that it became necessary for all Gentiles who desired to be brought into the like relation to abandon their own proper nationality and to become Jews by adop-tion, forsaking their former habits and associations together with their creed ; and as various offences against the law of Moses were punished with temporary or final exclusion from fellowship in the Hebrew polity ; so was it from a very early period in the Christian church. One marked difference between the Rabbinical and the Christian dis-cipline is indeed visible from the first, that the former in-volved the suspension or deprivation of civil rights, whereas the latter, in all the earlier centuries at any rate, was a purely spiritual penalty. But they are agreed in com-bining two ideas, one wholly foreign (as already observed) to paganism, and the other but vaguely shadowed therein, —the aim of healing the offender himself and the need of his making public satisfaction to the society whose rules he had broken, and which might suffer in reputation and influence by reason of his misconduct. It is this notion of satisfaction which has led to the extension of the -word "penance" itself from its more restricted and legal meaning to its wider use as covering the whole range of ascetic practices. And, as it soon came to be accepted that the inward sorrow for sin would be attended with an outward token of that sorrow, involving pain or humilia-tion in some form or other, there are four distinct stages in the ecclesiastical use of the word " pecnitentia,"—first, as denoting the change of mind due to sorrow for sin ; next, the external penalty attached to each offence ; thirdly, the discipline of the church in dealing with all spiritual offences ; and lastly, any piece of austerity practised with a religious motive ; and the fact of the Latin language having no doublets like the English " penitence " and " penance " to express the distinct though allied ideas of the mental attitude and the outward action has powerfully conditioned Latin theology and practice.

There is naturally but little to be found in the New Testament on the subject of discipline ; but the whole principle is provided for and anticipated in one saying of Christ—that which directs that he who neglects to hear the church as arbiter in a dispute shall be regarded as a heathen man and a publican, and which goes on to con-fer upon the apostles the power of binding and loosing (Matt, xviii. 17, 18),—words which they, with their Jewish experience and associations, must needs have interpreted as authorizing, and even enjoining, the infliction of pen-alties, and notably that of excommunication, upon members of the new society. Accordingly, the leading example of such discipline, the case of the incestuous Corinthian, attests plainly some form of trial, a sentence of excom-munication, some proof of repentance, and the consequent reconciliation and restoration of the offender (1 Cor. v.; 2 Cor. ii. 6-10); and it is most probable that some such method was pursued in the sub-apostolic church, each case being dealt with locally, and on its separate merits, long before any formal system or code came into existence. The penalties seem at first to have been very simple and lenient, leaving out of account the difficult problem of the phrase " delivering to Satan," twice found in this connexion (1 Cor. v. 5; 1 Tim. i. 20), which may mean merely relegating to heathen fellowship by exclusion from the society of Christians, but also may cover much more ground. Exclusion from the eucharist itself, exclusion from non-communicating attendance at the eucharist, and exclusion from all religious assemblies for even the minor offices of worship are the only censures discoverable in the earlier period, though it is not long before certain additional penalties accompanying these grades of separa-tion begin to appear. The following broad rules govern all cases of penitential discipline in the ancient church. (1) Penance related only to baptized and communicant Christians. Even catechumens were not held capable of it, to say nothing of Jews or Pagans. (2) It was ex-clusively spiritual, and in no way touched the civil con-dition of the penitent, even after the conversion of the empire. (3) It was not compulsory, but spontaneous ; nay, so far was it from being imposed, that it had to be sought as a favour. Of course, where it was not so sought the excommunication of the offender remained in force, but this excommunication was not regarded as in itself a penance in the later use of that term. (4) The most usual rule allowed of penance but once. The relapsing offender had no second opportunity granted him. (5) It was always preceded by confession (l^oixoXoyntrn), a term which, however, even as early as Tertullian's time, was already extended to include, over and above the oral acknowledgment of guilt, the external acts of mortification accompanying it (De Peen., c. 9). (6) There was a careful classification of the offences involving penance, and after a time a corresponding classification of penitents into certain fixed grades, through which it was in many cases necessary to pass, from the lowest to the highest, before receiving absolution and being restored to full communion.

The case dealt with by St Paul establishes one point, that of the comparative brevity of the time of penance, even for very grave offences, since three years is the longest period which can have elapsed between the two epistles to the Corinthians; whereas under the later system periods of fifteen and twenty years are not rarely to be found, and in some cases penance was for life, however protracted. The earlier method can be shown to have come into wide acceptance far within the 2d century, because it forms the subject of a charge made against the church by Tertullian in one of his Montanist treatises (De Pudicitia); and the more stringent discipline of the succeeding era appears to be due to the nearly simultaneous action of two causes,—the great success which attended the persecution set on foot by the emperor Decius in 249, resulting as it did in a far larger proportion of apostasies and compromises than any of the others, and the rise of Novatianism within two years, in protest against the leniency exercised towards the lapsed. Although the church rejected the extreme theories of rigid discipline which Novatian formulated, yet it was tacitly admitted that he did but exaggerate a truth, and the reins began to be drawn tighter from that time forward. Much in-formation regarding the practical working of the system in the third century can be gathered from the epistles of Cyprian, and from his treatise On the Lapsed; but the fact that he had to struggle against a lax party in Africa, at the very time when laxity was preponderant in the Italian Church, proves that no uniform system had yet been evolved. The 4th century is the period, when broad general rules, intended to apply to all cases, begin to be laid down, and when the distribution of penitents into fixed classes or grades is clearly evident. The Eastern Church took the lead in this development, and canons of Ancyra and Neo-Cassarea in 314 refer to the grades of penance in terms which imply their general recognition as already established. They are first defined in an epistle ascribed to Gregory Thaumaturgus about the year 258, and are as under: (1) Weepers, forbidden to enter a church, and permitted merely to assemble at the doors to ask the prayers of those entering; (2) Hearers, suffered to come in for the Scripture lessons and the minor offices, but obliged to depart before the eucharistic office began; (3) Kneelers, allowed to attend the earlier part of the eucharistic office, as far as the close of the introductory portion, but obliged to withdraw then along with the catechumens ; (4) Standers, who might remain throughout the entire rite, but were not suffered to communicate. This minute subdivision does not seem to have made good a footing in Western Christendom, where the first of these degrees is not found on record (Morinus, Be Bcenitent., vi. 8), nor did it hold its ground very long in the East itself, disappearing as it does during the 5th century. The penitential observances usually imposed on those who were-admitted to these grades were public confession of their offence in presence of the congregation, and that, in the case of the lowest grade, several times over ; the disuse of all ornaments, and the assumption of a sackcloth garb, with the strewing of ashes on the head (Euseb., //. B., v. 28); men had to cut off their hair and shave their beards ; women to wear their hair dishevelled and to adopt a special veil; all had to abstain from baths, festivals, and, gener-ally speaking, all physical enjoyments, and fasting on bread and water was often enjoined ; they were bound to much more frequent and regular attendance at all religious assem-blies than the faithful or the catechumens (Cone. Carthag. IV., c. 81); if possessed of moans, they were required to give largely in alms, or to assist actively in works of charity; and they were, for the first ten centuries, incapable of being admitted to ordination. One result of the crowds of peni-tents which had to be dealt with after the lull that followed the Decian persecution was that the bishops were no longer sufficient in numbers to deal with each case separately, though under the earlier system the bishop alone (even when the presbyters acted as his assessors) could put to penance, as he continued for a long time to be the only officer who could reconcile and readmit those who had per-form ed their appointed penance. A practice arose, therefore, of appointing certain presbyters to confer with all persons applying for admission to penance, and to receive their confessions privately, in order to prepare them for the public confession which made an integral part of penance, and indeed to decide whether they could be admitted thereto at all. These officers, known as "penitentiaries," were abolished in the church of Constantinople by the patriarch Nectarius about 390 (Socrat., 11. E., v. 19 ; Sozom., //. E., vii. 16), and his example was followed throughout nearly the whole East; but the office continued in the West, with various modifications necessitated by the gradual change of discipline.

The main difference between the earlier and later systems lies in the fact that penance was for some centuries restricted to certain very grave sins, to wit, idolatry, adultery, and murder, with such lesser offences as were closely allied (as, for instance, the delivery of the sacred books to pagan inquisitors, that traditio which has given the words "treason" and "traitor" to modern diction); nor does it appear that any distinction was made between the treatment of those penitents whose guilt was notorious and those whose own voluntary confession alone made it manifest. Minor offences were punished with suspension of communion and with refusal of oblations at the hands of the offender, and many were left wholly to the indi-vidual conscience. But the catalogue of canonical offences was much enlarged at the time when the penitential system was developed and codified,—theft, usury, false witness, polygamy, habitual drunkenness, and some others being included amongst those which had to be publicly expiated. Yet it was this increased severity which led to the almost total abrogation of public penance, because of the scandal given by the publication of the numerous offences on the new list, whereas the cases under the older rule were necessarily few, however serious. It is clearly stated by both Socrates and Sozomen that the motive of Nectarius in abolishing the office of penitentiary was to avoid the recurrence of an uproar occasioned by the public confession of a lady of high rank, implicating others in a disgraceful fashion, so that he judged it better to leave the question of communion to be settled in private by penitents with their religious advisers, and not to be made matter of general publicity. This became the rule at once in the East, but public penance held its place in the West for many centuries longer, and in fact has never become entirely obsolete. There was, however, a considerable innovation introduced after the 7th century, in that offences privately committed were put in a different category from public sins, and were no longer made liable to public penance, but might be, and soon were, dealt with by private confession and penance only. Not only so, but, whereas the accusation of any person to the bishop as an offender was the usual mode of bringing his case under ecclesiastical cognizance in the earlier Christian centuries, on the other hand the discipline introduced in the Middle Ages was to exact public penance from such alone as had been convicted on trial before secular judges. The first beginnings of this innovation on Western usage are attributed by Morinus with much probability to Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek archbishop of Canterbury, who sat from 668 to 690, and whose Penitential (or code of ecclesiastical discipline), though not the earliest even now extant in the British Isles, soon achieved wide acceptance throughout the West, not-withstanding that it followed the then long-established Eastern usage in favour of private as opposed to public confession. A more serious innovation, fraught with dangerous consequences, made its appearance somewhat later, that of buying off a penance by a money payment to be expended in alms, a system in full force in the 9th century, as attested by the capitularies of Hincmar of Rheims and Herard of Tours. Another custom which tended to break down the efficiency of the earlier discipline was that of resorting to Borne to have the more serious cases adjudicated on by the pope. At first this was an exceptional mode of dealing with difficult matters, regarded as too serious or too intricate for local decision, but by the 11th century it had become a fashion, so that offenders of any rank or wealth refused habitually to submit to penance at the hands of the local authorities, and betook themselves to Rome, where they stated their case in their own way, with no evidence to check them, so that they were enabled either to evade the canonical penances altogether or to get them much lightened. This abuse was combated by various councils, notably that of Seligen-stadt in 1022, which decreed in its eighteenth canon " that no indulgences obtained from the Roman pontiff should avail for penitents, unless they had first fulfilled the penances set them by their own priests according to the degree of their offence; and, if they chose to go then to Rome, they must procure a permit from their own bishop, and letters on the matter in question to be carried to the pope." But this attempt to check the practice was unsuccessful, and it became established that, just as certain cases of conscience were reserved to the bishop, and could not be dealt with by ordinary parish priests, so certain other cases were withdrawn from the cognizance of the bishops themselves, and reserved for the hearing and decision of the pope alone. Many alterations in the nature and incidence of penances were made in the course of the later Middle Ages, but the details are unimportant except for specialists; it will suffice to mention such ex-amples as imprisonment in monasteries, penitential pilgrimages, and flagellations, the last having been introduced by the hermit Dominic the Cuirassier (died 1060).

It is time to speak of the position occupied by penance in the theological systems of the Latin and Greek Churches. Both of them account penance, taken in its widest sense of the method of dealing spiritually with sins by confession, discipline, and absolution, as a sacrament, but there are various differences in their theories and methods. The Greek and Armenian Churches are in full agreement with the Latin Church in regarding confession as an integral and essential part of penance, of which they consider it the outward and visible sign, while the spiritual part of the sacrament consists in the form of absolution, whether precatory or declaratory, pronounced by the priest. And they lay down that the external acts of asceticism per-formed by the penitent are not strictly part of the sacra-ment itself, but merely the fulfilment of the church's injunctions, and tokens of that repentance which should attend the confession of sins. And confession, though recommended as a religious observance, is not a matter of formal ecclesiastical precept in the Eastern Church, but is left to the individual conscience, though it is usual to practise it at least once a year, prior to the Easter communion. There are also certain public penances some-times enjoined in the East for sins of exceptional gravity, publicly or legally proved, but they do not form part of the normal system, one part of which, in strict agreement with ancient usage, consists in suspending heinous offenders from communion for some years, during which they can receive only the avrlSiopov or blessed bread. And in all cases the Easterns deny that penances are in any sense satisfactions or expiations of sins made to appease divine justice.

In the Latin Church the first noticeable divergence from Oriental usage is that the old public form of penance, technically known as " solennis," still survives in a docu-mentary fashion in the Pontifical, though it has dropped into virtual abeyance. It consists of two distinct and correlative parts,—the public expulsion of penitents from church on Ash Wednesday and their reconciliation and readmission on Maundy Thursday following. As these rites preserve in essentials the traditions of very early Western usage, it is well to give some account of them here.

On Ash Wednesday, then, those penitents whose names are written down on a list for the purpose assemble, in coarse raiment and barefoot, at the cathedral of their diocese at nine o'clock A.M.

Their penances are then assigned them severally by the penitentiary, or some other officer deputed for the purpose, after which they are sent out of the church, and bidden to wait at the doors. The bishop, attended by the clergy and choir, takes his seat in the middle of the nave, facing the doors, having previously blessed ashes for the coming rite. The penitents are next admitted, and, kneeling before the bishop, have ashes sprinkled on their heads by him or by some other dignitary present, and sackcloth is also laid upon them in similar fashion. The penitential psalms and the litanies are then said, all kneeling ; after this the penitents stand up to hear a sermon from the bishop, at the close of which he takes one of them by the right hand, and leads him towards the doors, followed by all the other penitents, each grasping another's hand, and also holding lighted tapers, when they are ejected in a body. They kneel outside, and are again addressed by the bishop, enjoining them to spend the time of penance in prayers, fastings, aliusdeeds, and pilgrimages, and to return on Maundy Thursday for reconciliation. The church-doors are then shut in their faces, and the bishop proceeds to celebrate mass.

The office on Maundy Thursday begins with the penitential psalms and the litanies, said by the bishop and clergy in church, while the penitents wait, barefoot and with unlighted tapers, out-side the doors. After some preliminary cei'emonies, a deacon goes to the penitents with a lighted candle, and kindles their tapers. The bishop then seats himself, as in the former rite, and the penitents are presented to him collectively by the archdeacon with a formal address. The bishop then rises, and with his immediate attendants advances to the doors, where ho delivers a short address to the penitents, which ended, he returns into the church, still keeping near the doors, and, while a psalm is sung, the penitents enter and kneel before him ; then the archdeacon or archpriest petitions for their reconciliation, and, having replied to the bishop's question as to their fitness, recites certain versicles and responses alternately with the choir, while the bishop takes hold of the hand of one of the penitents, who in his turn takes that of another, till all form a chain, and thus they are led by the bishop to the middle of the church, where he recites a form of absolution over them. Psalms and prayers, closing with another absolutory form and a benediction, end the office, after which the penitents resume their ordinary dress, laying aside that which they had worn during Lent.

A further difference between the Eastern and Latin Churches is that the latter has made confession a formal precept ever since the canon of the Lateran council under Innocent III. in 1215, Omnis utriusque sexus, which enjoins all those arrived at years of discretion to confess at least once a year to their own parish priest, or to another priest with consent of the parish priest, the act being no longer left optional. And the choice of a confessor is limited also by the rule that absolution is not accounted valid unless pronounced by a priest having local jurisdiction and faculties. The chief divergence, however, between East and West on the sacrament of penance is due to the remarkable developments both in the doctrinal and the disciplinary aspects of the rite which took place in Latin Christendom during the Middle Ages. The former of these is mainly concerned with the new application, in the 12th century, of the system of indulgences, from its original character of a relaxation of the duration or severity of the temporal penalties annexed to offences by the canons to the remission of purgatorial chastisement of departed souls in the intermediate state—a tenet which seems to have been first developed by Hugh and Bichard of St Victor—which gave rise to the practice of penitential observances by persons not lying under any censure, with the aim of acquiring the advantages thus held out to them for themselves or others, living or departed, to whom they are at liberty to transfer them. The latter is due to the legal, methodizing, and codifying temper which forms such a marked peculiarity of the Latin mind, in contrast with the more speculative Greek. Hence has arisen a copious literature, beginning with those Penitential.?, or codes of disciplinary canons, already mentioned, but amplified at a later time into a vast system of moral theology and casuistry, mainly elaborated in the 16th and 17th centuries (see LIGTJORI), whereby the whole modern administration of penance in the Latin Church is regulated. The Oriental churches have no corresponding system or text-books, and continue to observe the less methodized and determinate order in use during the 6th and immediately succeeding centuries. There is no theo-logical difference between them, however, in respect of their view of absolution, although in the one case a declaratory, and in the other a precatory, form is employed. But a dis-tinction in practice is maintained hereupon, for even the United Greeks are obliged, in virtue of an instruction issued by Clement VIII. in 1595, to use only the declaratory form when pronouncing absolution. In Latin theology the matter of the sacrament of penance is distinguished as " remote " and " proximate," as " exterior " and " interior," as " necessary " and " sufficient." The remote and exterior matter of penance is all post-baptismal sin, with the remis-sion and correction of which penance has to do. The class of mortal sins are the necessary exterior matter, because confession is the only recognized mode of obtaining their remission. Venial sins are sufficient or voluntary matter of penance, because confession of them is not compulsory, and remission may be otherwise had. The contrition, confession, and satisfaction of the penitent are the proxi-mate and interior matter of penance, with this further distinction, that the two former are "essential" and insepar-able parts of it, while satisfaction, though an "integral" part, is not essential, being capable of dispensation. The form of the sacrament is the absolution pronounced by the priest. And, as before stated, the acts of bodily or spiritual mortification enjoined on the penitent as parts of his satisfaction, are called penances.

In the Church of England, penance, governed by pre-Reformation canons and statutes, has continued to be inflicted by sentence of the ecclesiastical courts down to very recent times,—one of its commonest forms being that of standing at the church-door clad in a white sheet. Pre-cautions were taken by constitutions of Cardinal Othobon and Archbishop Stratford against the abuse of money com-mutations of penance; and the right of the spiritual courts to deal with cases involving penance, whether corporal or pecuniary, was protected against writs of prohibition by the statutes Circumspecte agatis, 13 Edward I. st. 4, and Articuli Cleri, 9 Edward II. st. 1, c. 2. The Reformatio Legtan provided that ecclesiastical penances should not be com-muted for money, save for some grave and necessary cause, and that such money should be applied to the relief of the poor, while a repeated offence should admit of no com-mutation. This same question came up frequently, having been dealt with under Queen Elizabeth, Charles I., William III., and Queen Anne, on the last occasion by Convocation, which laid down rules that no commutation-money should be allowed by any ecclesiastical judge without the consent of the ordinary in writing, nor disposed of without the like consent. The commination office in the Book of Common Prayer makes reference to the solemn Lenten penance described above, as a thing desirable to be restored; but no action has ever been taken for the purpose.

In the Lutheran communion, penance, though at first amongst the usages intended to be maintained, and acknowledged in the Articles of Schmalkald, and also in the Apology for the Confession of Augsburg, has never held an effective place, being in truth incompatible with the doctrines and polity elaborated by Luther himself; so that, although confession and absolution continue as sur-vivals in the Lutheran system, they are not associated with any regular discipline. Far otherwise is it with Calvinism. The twelfth chapter of the fourth book of Calvin's Institutes is mainly taken up with the question of ecclesiastical discipline, whose necessity is broadly stated, and alleged to extend to the whole body, clerical and lay alike, and to be derived from the power of the Keys. No precise'rules are laid down, beyond saying that censures may begin with private monition, but should ascend in severity in proportion to the gravity and notoriety of offences ; but, in point of fact, the system raised on this basis by most of the Calvinist societies was a stringent and searching one. In particular, the First and Second Boohs of Discipline, put forth by John Knox and by the second generation of Scottish Reformers, lay down the principles for dealing with offenders against religion and morals with much clearness and precision, and the Form of Brocess in the Judicatories of the Kirk, as approved by the General Assembly in 1707, prescribes the manner of proceeding to inflict the several penalties enacted against a variety of offences and scandals. These at one time covered a wide area, but in later times only certain forms of immorality have continued to be brought under ecclesi-astical cognizance for public censure and penalties. All the other more important Protestant sects have their own systems of discipline, more or less stringent, but they are virtually restricted in operation to suspension of communion with the body, or to expulsion from membership, no other penalties being provided.

Bibliography.—Morinus, Comment. Hist, de Discipl. in Administr. Sacram. Peenit. (Antwerp, 1682) ; Pelliccia, De Christ. Eccl. Pol. (Cologne, 1828-38) ; Siegel, Handb. der Christ.-hirchl. Alterthûmer, s. v. "Busse" (Leipsic, 1880); Bingham, Antiq. of the Christ. Church, bk. xvi. (London, 1840) ; Smith and Cheetham, Diet, of Christ. Antiq., s. v. "Penitence" (London, 1880); Richard et Giraud, Bibliothèque Sacrée, s. v. "Penitence" (Paris, 1824); Wasser- schleben, Bussordn. der Abendldnd. Kirche (Halle, 185l) ; Theodori Cantuariensis, Pcenitentiale (Paris, 1679) ; Probst, Kirchl. Discipl. in den drei ersten Christ. Jahrh. (Tubingen, 1873), and Sakramente n. Sakramentalien in d. drei erst. Christ. Jahrh. (Tubingen, 1872) ; Chardon, Hist, des Sacrcm. (Paris, 1745) ; Guettée, Expos, de la Doct. de l'Ég. Cathol. Orthod. (Paris, 1866) ; Macaire, Théol. Dogm. Orthod. (Paris, 1860) ; Calvin, Instihdiones ; Phillimore, Eccles. Law of the Ch. of Engl. (London, 1873); Ayliffe, ParegonJur. Can. Angl. (London, 1726) ; Du Cange, Gloss, ad Script. Med. et Inf. Latin., s. v. " Pcenitentia " (Basel, 1762); Compend. of the Laxos of the Ch. of Scotl. (Edinburgh, 1831). (R. F. L.)


485-1 The Greek word ixeràvoia, which stands both for repentance and for the sacrament or mystery of penance, has undergone a singular degeneration of meaning in ecclesiastical language, being often used to denote an obeisance of head and body, because that gesture is one winch was enjoined upon penitents as part of the outward expression of sorrow for sin. But this ambiguity has had no theological results ; because the penalty imposed in the confessional is not called /xerâvoia, but imTipla, and thus no confusion can arise, especially as the context always shows clearly when /xerapota stands for a mere gesture.

The above article was written by: Rev. R. F. Littledale, LLD., D.C.L.

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