In our culture the term penance is very uncomfortable to so many. For others it’s downright wrong to deny yourself things in a world that fosters freedom of speech, desires, expression, etc, etc. As followers of Christ how can we consider what I’d like to call “a daily dose of penance” in order to conform our lives more to Christ. By taking up our cross we will rise and live in the life Christ has for us. Taking up our Cross is not always intense or filled with hardship, but it is something that we are called to do in order to emulate Christ’s suffering and death on the cross – all because of love. Our small penances draw us into that love of God. Consider the following 5 ways you could practice a “daily dose of penance” as we begin Lent:
1. Eat one less cookie for dessert, drink one less cup of coffee or soda during the day.
2. Turn off the TV or internet and take 5-10 minutes to pray.
3. Hold your tongue…instead of speaking and explaining yourself because you want to make sure you are understood, just let go and move forward.
3. Pray for someone who annoys you.
4. When tempted to criticize or make a judgment on someone find a way to verbally compliment them instead.
5. Do something beyond what is expected at home or at work instead of what you really want to be doing.
Also, consider giving students in your classes ideas of how to practice small penances which will help them grow in their relationship with God this Lent. Giving up things is good, but only if it actually leads us closer to Jesus and helps us love Him and our neighbor more in response.
What would you suggest as a good “daily dose”?