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What does "penance and gift" mean in this context?

Hi,
What does "penance and gift" mean in this context?
Is it related to religion? Especially, what does 'gift' mean?

"In other words, Y says, to make it his secret penance and gift to the old man to just hang in there and silently to suffer the feelings of loathing and hypocrisy and selfishness and discountenance, but not to stop accompanying his wife or going to visit the old man or lurking tangentially at the family councils, in other words for X simply to reduce himself to bare physical actions and processes, to get off his heart's back and stop worrying about his makeup and simply Show Up4 . . . which, when X rejoins that for Christ's sweet sake this is what he's already been doing all along, Y tentatively pats his (i.e., X's) shoulder and ventures to say that X has always struck him (=Y) as a good deal stronger and wiser and more compassionate than he, X, is willing to give himself credit for."

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Other

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    Best Answer - Chosen by Voting
    민줄리
    Yes it is a religious context. A penance is some sacrifice one makes. It can be a form of physical Asceticism, or it can be something as simple as a monetary donation.
    ---Warm Regards, Bruce

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