On the present festive occasion he emerged from his room, when the blithe bells were going, the picture of misery, in a full suit of Sunday penitentials
The next morning they are at their penitentials
again; and perhaps the poor weeping wife comes over to him, either brings him some account of what his creditors are doing, and how she and the children are turned out of doors, or some other dreadful news; and this adds to his self-reproaches; but when he has thought and pored on it till he is almost mad, having no principles to support him, nothing within him or above him to comfort him, but finding it all darkness on every side, he flies to the same relief again, viz.
He first mentions a group of penitential
psalms in his commentary on Psalm 6, where he writes, "Be mindful however, that this psalm is the first of [the] penitentials
The author points out that penitentials
were not a product of the church hierarchy, but instead were compiled locally and "varied from parish to parish.
Locating eleventh-century Irish manuals for administering penance in the context of ancient and early medieval theories of disease and beliefs about the debilitating powers of sin, McNeill praised the penitentials
for "their moderation, fundamental humaneness, and freedom from fanaticism.
Despite the lack of consistent remaining documents, she utilizes many sources, investigating case studies, penitentials
and other clerical writing to discover the ways in which justice was perceived.
She provides a brilliant instance of this elusiveness by interpreting their rigorous penitentials
as hope-filled guides to spirituality.
and the complexities of canon law are surveyed with the mastery we might expect from the two experts in these fields, Pierre J.
McNeill's The Celtic Penitentials
and their Influence on Continental Christianity (Paris: Edouard Champion, 1923) and A History of the Cure of Souls (New York: Harper, 1951), Oscar Watkins's A History of Penance (London: Longmans, Green, 1920), and, although differently, studies by Thomas Oakley (1932-1940).
Hugh Connolly, author of the well-known The Irish Penitentials
(1995), draws on his considerable expertise in moral theology to develop a synthetic account of sin that will meet contemporary needs.
In most popular books on `Celtic Christians' the penitentials
hardly get a mention; their emphasis on humans as sinful creatures and the need for bodily mortification and their implicit strict sexual code are not perceived as agreeable with a `body-friendly' religion of `original blessing'" (49).
In contrast with the usual evaluations of Celtic penance, Connolly puts forward a theological study of the Irish penitentials
that is almost totally positive.