Previous Previous:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 4-5:
Three kinds of penitence: 1. contrition, 2. confession, 3. satisfaction
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.

From The Canterbury Tales:
The Parson's Tale
Paragraph 6-7
About contrition, the first part of penitence

§ 6        The roote of this tree is contricioun, that hideth hym in the herte of hym that is verray repentaunt, right as the roote of a tree gydeth hym in the erthe. Of the roote of contricioun spryngeth a stalke that bereth braunches and leves of confessioun, and fruyt of satisfaccioun. For which Crist seith in his gospel: "dooth digne fruyt of penitence"; for by this fruyt may men knowe this tree, and nat by the roote that is hyd in the herte of man, ne by the braunches, ne by the leves of confessioun. And therfore oure lord Jhesu Crist seith thus: "by the fruyt of hem shul ye knowen hem." Of this roote eek spryngeth a seed of grace, the which seed is mooder of sikernesse, and this seed is egre and hoot. The grace of this seed spryngeth of God thurgh remembrance of the day of doom and on the peynes of helle. Of this matere seith Salomon that in the drede of God man forleteth his synne. The heete of this seed is the love of God, and the desiryng of the joye perdurable. This heete draweth the herte of a man to God, and dooth hym haten his synne. For soothly ther is nothyng that savoureth so wel to a child as the milk of his norice, ne nothyng is to hym moore abhomnyable than thilke milk whan it is medled with oother mete. Right so the synful man that loveth his synne, hym semeth that it is to him moost sweete of any thyng; but fro that tyme that he loveth sadly oure lord Jhesu Crist, and desireth the lif perdurable, ther nys to him no thyng moore abhomynable. For soothly the lawe of God is the love of God; for which David the prophete seith: "I have loved thy lawe, and hated wikkednesse and hate"; he that loveth God kepeth his lawe and his Word. This tree saugh the prophete Daniel in spirit, upon the avysioun of the Kyng Nabugodonosor, whan he conseiled hym to do penitence. Penaunce is the tree of lyf to hem that is receyven, and he that holdeth hym in verray penitence is blessed, after the sentence of Solomon. § 6        The root of this tree is contrition, that hides himself in the heart of him that is true repentant, just as the root of a tree hides itself in the earth. Of the root of contrition springs a stalk that bears branches and leaves of Confession, and fruit of satisfaction. For which Christ says in his gospel, "Do the worthy fruit of Penitence"; for by this fruit can men know this tree, and not by the root that is hid in the heart of man, nor by the branches, nor by the leaves of Confession. And therefore our lord Jesus Christ says thus: "By the fruit of them shall you know them." From this root also springs a seed of grace, the which seed is mother of safety, and this seed is bitter and hot. The grace of this seed springs from God through remembrance of the day of doom and on the pains of hell. Of this matter says Solomon that in the dread of God man abandons his sin. The heat of this seed is the love of God and the desiring of the joy eternal. This heat draws the heart of a man to God and causes him to hate his sin. For truly there is nothing that tastes so well to a child as the milk of his feeder, nor nothing is to him more abominable than this milk when it is mixed with other food. Just so the sinful man who loves his sin, to him it seems that it is to him the most sweet of anything; but from that time that he loves firmly our Lord Jesus Christ, and desires the life eternal, there is to him no thing more abominable. For truly the law of God is the love of God; for which David the prophet says: "I have loved thy law and hated wickedness and hate"; he who loves God preserves his law and his word. This tree saw the prophet Daniel in spirit, upon the vision of the king Nebuchadnezzar, when he counseled him to do penitence. Penance is the tree of life to them that it receive, and he that keeps himself in true penitence is blessed, according to the teaching of Solomon.
§ 7        In this penitence or contricioun man shal understonde foure thynges; that is to seyn, what is contricioun, and whiche been the causes that moeven a man to contricioun, and how he sholde be contrit, and what contricioun availleth to the soule. Thanne is it thus: that contricioun is the verray sorwe that a man receyveth in his herte for his synnes, with sad purpos to shryve hym, and to do penaunce, and neveremoore to do synne. And this sorwe shal been in this manere, as seith Seint Bernard: "it shal been hevy and grevous, and ful sharp and poynaunt in herte." First, for man hath agilt his lord and his creatour; and moore sharp and poynaunt, for he hath agilt hys fader celestial; and yet moore sharp and poynaunt, for he hath wrathed and agilt hym that boghte hym, that with his precious blood hath delivered us fro the bondes of synne, and fro the crueltee of the devel, and fro the peynes of helle. § 7        In this Penitence or Contrition man shall understand four things; that is to say, what is Contrition, and which are the causes that move a man to Contrition, and how he should be contrite, and what Contrition avails to the soul. Then is it thus: that Contrition is the true sorrow that a man receives in his heart for his sins, with steadfast purpose to confess himself, and to do penance, and nevermore to do sin. And this sorrow shall be in this manner, as says Saint Bernard: "It shall be heavy and grievous, and very sharp and piercing in heart." First, for man has sinned against his lord and his creator; and more sharp and poignant for he has sinned against his Father celestial; and yet more sharp and piercing for he has angered and sinned against him that bought him, that with his precious blood has delivered us from the bonds of sin, and from the cruelty of the devil, and from the pains of hell.

Next Next:
From The Parson's Tale, paragraph 8:
The first move to contrition