Pre-Lent is already upon us, which means now is the time to make a plan for Lent. Of course, the minimum the Church requires is abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and all of the Fridays of Lent as well as fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. But that’s the minimum.
I think a little penance is a good thing to cultivate even in children who are not bound by any of the laws of fast and abstinence. Doing a few little things now can make it easier for them later. Involving the children can help teach them to value penance, but it is most important to set a good example as parents.
10 Penance Ideas for Lent
Here is a list of ten simple penance ideas you can do all through Lent. I won’t get into fasting beyond what the Church requires, as that’s a matter for you and your spiritual director.
Give up soda pop
It would probably do your body good, too. After 40 days, you might never go back.
Give up or greatly restrict internet usage
I know what you’re thinking. If you give up the internet, you won’t be able to read all the great articles on CatholicLiving.net. Well, just give up Facebook and Twitter instead.
Put a pebble in a shoe
The idea is to put a pebble in a shoe just to cause a little discomfort or annoyance. Don’t use a sharp or jagged stone or anything big or dangerous. Just a little round pebble.
Lent and almsgiving go hand in hand. Plan to give some money or food to someone less fortunate. Do something charitable while tempering your avarice or attachment to wealth.
Give up salad dressing
Salad without anything on it can be a little bitter, but it really isn’t that bad.
Put off buying something you want until after Easter
So there’s this thing you really want to buy, and you have the money to buy it. Well, don’t buy it yet. Make yourself wait until after Easter.
Don’t eat any pizza
Pizza seems to be an ubiquitous staple of modern man. Lent is a good time to try other things. Just let go of that hot, cheesy, gooey, sauce-laden cardboard slab.
Don’t eat out
If you’re like me, you get some pleasure out of the restaurant dining experience. Maybe it could be a penance just to eat the things you prepare yourself.
Be cheerful when you don’t want to be
So there’s this one guy who just always gets on your nerves. He cracks the stupidest jokes. Or maybe he’s always grouchy. Whatever the case may be, this man is your ticket to a great Lent. Go out of your way to be kind to him. Be cheerful around him. Make time to listen to his corny jokes. This is a 2-for-the-price-of-1-deal: you get to be charitable to someone else while at the same time tempering your own will.
Don’t hit the snooze button
Resolve to get yourself out of bed quickly in the morning when the alarm goes off. Don’t hit that snooze button.
Penance is good for a variety of reasons. It makes us stronger against temptations. It offers reparation for our sins or the sins of others. I hope these penance ideas help you to prepare your plan for Lent.