We continue with Sister Margaret’s reflections on Penance as lived by Saint Francis.
Penance, as metanoia then, has three main elements:
- An innermost change of heart under the influence of the Word of God;
- Changing one’s life in harmony with the change of heart;
- Bringing forth fruits worthy of penance.
Putting this another way, we then see that penance consists of three key elements:
- Conversion: a change of mind, a change of heart, a turning from self to God;
- Repentance: this change of heart, this conversion, reflects itself in a change of life (style, habits formed, etc.)
- Fruits of Penance: the change of life results in the fruits of penance, in doing penance, in doing good deeds
By way of conclusion … it is important that we realise from the above that for Francis the life of penance begins with God, the initial action comes from God, and then come the visible signs of repentance. This fact is crucial to a true understanding of Franciscan Penance.
This ties up completely with the biblical teaching of penance as metanoia in which conversion (turning from self to God) is the central dynamic of the life of penance. For Francis, and for us, the way of penance is the way of choosing God in response to His invitation, the way in which God, and not ourselves, becomes the very centre of our existence.
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