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Martha wrote:

Hi, guys —

I recently went to Confession and the priest told me my penance was to do something nice for one of my siblings. It's been a week since my Confession and I offered to help a sibling make a salad for an event and I also did a small task for my sister-in-law. I absentmindedly fulfilled my penance.

  • Does this count as fulfilling my penance? or
  • Do I need to do it in conscience of it being my penance?

I hope this makes sense.



  { Does absentmindedly fulfilling my penance count as penance or do I need to do it, in conscience? }

Eric replied:


  • What would it hurt to do another act of charity for your siblings . . . this time, conscious of your penance?

I am not going to split hairs and say that you did not fulfill your penance — I do not think it is worth being scrupulous about it — but neither should we take a minimalistic attitude:

  • . . . being stingy in our charity, and
  • trying to determine what the absolute minimum is to fulfill our obligation.

In truth we should be overflowing with generous charity all the time.


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