The ethical requirement, the present and the public commitment Doing good is not only good, but is good

 Bruno Forte

There is a word that occurs frequently in the language of faith and that raises some curiosity in those who are not religious: is the word “penance .” The etymology of the term refers to the Latin “paenitentia”, a word written with a different initial diphthong “poenitentia”. This second method seems to link the word to the word “poena”, meaning it does penance one who submits to a punishment in expiation of their sins. A similar etymology is unfounded, however, as it is based solely on the similarity between the terms “penance” and “punishment”, which have no relation to each other philological. The authentic meaning “paenitentia” is that of a voluntary departure from evil and a sincere conversion to the good, in the same sense in which we use the word “metanoia”: penance in greek says a change in which the “no” to an act passed joins the “yes” to a different future, in the knowledge of a decision which makes this a time of renewal and liberation. Recognition, appreciation and desire, then, are three areas of meaning that embraces the idea of penance just that, an idea fruitful for all, even in our present. First, the penance is born from an act of recognition: does penance, decides that is a radical change in his life since the deepest orientations of choices to make, those who become aware that their own way of being and acting has to be changed . The reasons for this acknowledgment are often linked to a sense of unease and dissatisfaction: you are ill and you would like to improve. True and fruitful recognition at the base of penance, however, is just what arises from a moral evaluation, that is, by recognizing that some of his acts or ways of behaving do not conform to the conscience and moral law inscribed that it carries in itself. This requires, above all, the courage to give themselves time to reflect on themselves and their own lives, to let judge by the light of truth and goodness. In this perspective, it is understood as a path of penance can only begin with an examination of his own conscience done without alibi and defense mechanisms in front of the ethical requirements, which are expressed in the most concise and authoritative manner by the universal voice of the good to be accomplished and evil to be avoided which are the Ten commandments, the commandments that the Jewish-Christian tradition has given the world. To motivate the moral decision is not enough, however, the recognition: just where it joins the gratitude for the blessings that you feel recipients, has pushed up his mind to good from a firm and lasting inner conviction. Only those who recognize loved one is able to love! This aspect is of fundamental importance in moral education: learn to do good a lot more because they were attracted by her beauty and the fruits it brings to the hearts and lives, than by fear of punishment or general as a threat to circumvent. That is why the penance is primarily response path, correspondence to a gift of which we recognize debtors, listening to the voice in which it captures the source of the gift itself. The spiritual and religious dimension of penance here emerges in full light: with biblical language, we can say that only where it is celebrated the alliance between the divine and the human interlocutor partners, the moral requirements is offered in full evidence, as if it is to shine over the flame gift relation and reception, he lived in the full awareness of the asymmetry of the relationship in which the Creator always immensely exceeds the creature. The objection that it could advance is that such a perspective would exclude the presence of moral decision for the good there where there is no recognition of divine authority. In reality it is not so, because what is required to establish the ethical requirement is the perception of a categorical imperative, coming from a non-negotiable source, such as Kantian ethics has proposed in a strict manner. It remains true, however, that the reference to God and His commandment makes explicit the moral requirements and helps consciousness in dubious task of recognizing the good to be done and the evil to be avoided. Finally, penance requires a large space reserved for the desire is the field not only of the way to take, but also the expectation of happiness which is filled with the human heart, and that inspires every moral decision. Doing good is not only good, but does it well! Writes St. Augustine: “Desire is the inner prayer that knows no interruption. Whatever you do, if you that Saturday, never stop praying … Your constant desire will be your voice continues. Tacerai if they cease to love … The chill of charity is the silence of the heart; the ardor of charity is the cry of the heart. If there always remains a charity, you always cry; if you always cry, always you desire; and if you, remember peace … if in your heart there is desire, there is also the groan; He does not always reach the ears of men, but never stays away from the ears of God “(Commentary on Psalm 37, 14) . And about the impatience of those who want to in front of the late Bishop of Hippo dell’esaudimento elsewhere he adds: “God with the wait strengthens our desire, with the desire he enlarges our soul and by expanding it more capable. We live, then, of desire as we have to be filled … This is our life: to practice with the desire “(Commentary on the Letter of John, 4.6). Penance – way of decision, recognition and gratitude – is inseparably exercise of desire: an exercise that is already certain foretaste of the coveted beauty, and just like that motivates the commitment to meet her waiting with unmistakable signs. It remains, however, the disturbing question: Who among the protagonists of our present, especially in the public arena and in particular in the political, is ready to make such a journey?