By Sr Tamsin Mary o.p.  A talk given at Blackfriars Cambridge UK, Lent 2017

"It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day: and that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name unto all nations."(Luke 24:46-47)

This talk will focus upon the concept of penance, which is a very rum one if you think about it closely.  The word penance comes from a Latin one, ‘paenitentia’ which derives from a Latin noun, meaning repentance, or penitence, ultimately deriving  from ποινή, a Greek word which means   ‘quit-money for blood spilt, a price paid, satisfaction, retribution, requital, penalty, or alternatively the personified pagan godess of vengeance.’ Eventually, by extension the word also came to mean ‘recompense, reward, redemption, or release.’ In modern ‘Church speak’ similarly there is a wide variety of meanings attaching to the concept of penance.  On the one hand there is ‘the sacrament of penance – confession.  There is the ‘penance’ that the priest metes out, and there is the ‘penitential action’ which is generally conceived as something unpleasing.  Finally there is the ‘penitential season’ which we are now in, where the ‘Lenten penances’ taken up, broadly under the heading of ‘prayer fasting and almsgiving’ are seen variously as spiritual chores, spiritual goals, or in the case of many in our secular environment as something akin to New Year’s resolutions, where the spiritual end is entirely lost sight of, and the end is simply some kind of self-seeking self-mastery. 

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Mercy: A View from Salamanca.

By Sr. Mary Joanna O.P Input for the Dominican Seminar January 2017 held at Hinsley Hall, Leeds.


Why Salamanca? Because the General Chapter held in Trogir in 2013 asked for, as part of the agenda of the Jubilee celebration of the 8th Centenary of the approbation of the Order of Preachers, an event, & I quote, “under the Salamanca Process, devoted to the heritage of Vitoria and posterity, to reflect on the challenges that human rights are today..”. In the Acts of that Chapter the definition of the Salamanca process was described as , and I quote, “….consisting of a way of ongoing collaboration between the friars committed to the mission and friars dedicated to studies, as happened in the 16th century among missionaries in the New World and the friars of the Convent of San Estaban de Salamanca”. (ACG Trogir 2013, 112).

Read more: Mercy: A View from Salamanca.

Mercy: a Dominican view

by Sr Ann  Catherine Swailes

Sr Ann Catherine at the Dominican  Seminar

Around the beginning of this academic year, I was leafing through my engagement diary, and was startled to come across a scribbled note to self which simply read “end of mercy”. The somewhat alarming entry was for an evening in late November, and it took me a minute or two to realise that it referred in shorthand to something I’d agreed to take on before the summer break and then forgotten, namely, as you’ve probably guessed, organising an event at the university chaplaincy in Cambridge to mark the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of mercy.

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