I was living and working in Northern Ca years ago. I went to reconciliation at a local parish. After confessing my sins the conversation went like this:
Priest: “DO you have a bible?”
Priest: “DO you read it?”
Me: “Yes, some.”
P: “For your penance I want you to memorize one of the psalms. You can’t cheat and memorize one of the short ones. Trust The Spirit and decide. If I hear your next reconciliation I want you to tel me which one.”
A miktam of David. 2 Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.
Worthless are all the false gods of the land. Accursed are all who delight in them.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods. Blood libations to them I will not pour out, nor will I take their names upon my lips.
LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.
Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
About a month later I returned for reconciliation to the same priest. I confessed and he asked me the same thing. I told him he already assigned me the penance.
P: “Well, did you pick one and memorize it?”
M: “Yes sir.”
P: "Recite the psalm.
I did it.
He gave me absolution and gave ma a small penance and I went on my way.
My job was transferring me to the area. I was looking for an area to relocate to. I was visiting the parishes to see what was there. I stopped in one one Sunday. The greeter grabbed me as I walked in and hugged me. Me being a Texan I was not real comfortable with this but what the hey.
I went to my pew, sat down. The choir started to sing. I was listening and looked at the hymn numbers on the board thingy. I looked up the hymn.
Psalm 16. Chills up my spine.
The greeter and I became fast friends. My friend died of cancer two monthes after we met.
My wife and I spent 8 1/2 years there. They were just starting Renew and we had just finished Renew in Texas.
What was your best penance?