Act of Service as Penance

I recently went to confession and part of my penance was to perform one act of service. Because I am mostly disabled I’m having a difficult time figuring out what an act of service might be for me to perform. Being a lower middle class family I would be able to make a financial donation but I don’t think that’s what the priest I confessed to was intending. I can’t volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen because I not very mobile and can’t stand for any length of time. Do you think saying extra prayers for the less fortunate would suffice? I do work full time and that takes the majority of my day which makes it difficult to devote substantial time to something. I need ideas to fulfill this penance. Thank you for your time.

Could you maybe help someone with their homework? Maybe go to the homeless shelter or a nursing home and just talk with the residents?

I would suggest that you look at the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Those may give you some ideas.

As a suggestion the next time you get this kind of penance you could ask the priest for some suggested acts of service.



Stop at a cemetery and pray for all of the souls that are in Purgatory especially those of the people buried in that cemetery.


You can very well serve our parish by praying fro it’s pastor and staff in front of the Blessed Sacrament. You can also writer letters of encouragement to the youth studying fro Confirmation or people in nursing homes.


A kind word…it may be the only one that a person has heard, or the only smile that they’ve seen, that day, that week. Draw someone out about themselves, they might think no one is interested but that others are only interested in their own needs?
Express thoughtful gratitude that feels like more than just the automatic ‘thank you’?
That, whenever you can, perhaps? You doubtless already do those things, :slight_smile:

The following poem “But” was written by a Divine Word Missionary, inspiring us to love of others, even in the smallest gestures of human kindness.

It was only a sunny smile,
And little it cost in the giving;
But it scattered the night
Like morning light,
And made the day worth living.
Through life’s dark warp a woof it wove
In shining colours of hope and love;
And the angels smiled as they watched above,
Yet little it cost in the giving.

It was only a kindly word, a word that was lightly spoken;
But not in vain,
For it stilled the pain
Of a heart that was nearly broken
It strengthened a faith beset with fears,
And groping blindly through mists of tears,
For light to brighten the coming years,
Although it was lightly spoken.

It was only a helping hand
And it seemed of little availing;
But its clasp was warm,
And it saved from harm
A brother whose strength was failing.
Its touch was tender as angels’ wings
But it rolled the stone from the hidden springs
And pointed the way to higher things,
Though it seemed of little availing.


Thank you. This was beautiful.

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Thank you for your suggestions.

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