Different penance when and how?

I have a question. I know this has been covered here on these forums but I cannot seem to get the right search terms to find threads. I have been experiencing a bit of a difficulty with recieving the same delayed sort of penance if you know what I mean. Not prayers to be said here and now, but a gesture of kindness at some point in the week. I live a pretty isolated existence these days and the opportunity to be kind to someone does not come up frequently. I am around people but I don’t really know any of them. trying to go out of my way to be kind to strangers and vague aquaintances has led only to awkward, and uncomfortable situations for both myself and others, and even reactions of concern for my wellbeing on one occasion. I feel stupid asking for a different penance when it is something everyone should be able to do with ease, but is it possible to simply ask for something different? when in confession do I do this? when he asks if I would be able to do that do I just say no? this is a really awkward situation but it is always that same penance and it leads to me racking my brain for three days trying to think of something, and then behaving bizarrely and bothering strangers.

Just tell the priest during confession that there’s a problem. He says “for your penance do X,” and you respond,“Father, I have difficulty with that…” and explain. He’ll come up with something different for you.

I would follow the advice in post #2.

To quote Father Z, “I hate deferred penances.” :banghead:

Whenever possible, I try to trust that the Holy Spirit – who loves me beyond all understanding – works through my confessor to give me a penance that is best for my soul. And if I don’t like the penance, so much the better that it costs me something – that’s why it’s called penance.

As for actions that could be a kindness…
*]Asking the clerk in the store how their day is going, and really listening to (and caring about) the answer is a genuine act of kindness.
*]Thanking a fast food worker for making your breakfast/lunch/dinner that day (and really meaning it) is also an act of kindness.
*]Praying for anyone – a stranger on the road, a family member, a coworker… – is also an act of kindness.
*]A word of encouragement or gratitude or assistance is an act of kindness.

If the Lord continually allows this priest to give you this penance you dislike, maybe He is trying to work something beautiful in your heart, even if that’s only obedience.

Of course you can also tell Father how much you dislike this penance and ask for another. :shrug:


Gertabelle, what a lovely way of putting things! Use this as a challenge/opportunity to get out of the comfort zone.

Go right home and phone an elderly relative who doesn’t get out much. This is a real act of kindness which you can perform right away and the person would really appreciate the attention. If you don’t have any of those, phone a friend who could benefit from a call.
I had an aunt who had Parkinson’s. When her speech was still intelligible she phoned a list of elderly people every morning just to make sure they were all right. A phone call makes a big difference.

I have to echo Gertabelle

I use to plant a quarter in a place where I thought someone homeless might find it. Instead of donating cloths to goodwill, I leave them nicely folded in front of a shelter. Put a quarter in the meter.

Humble myself by kneeling on the hard floor in a single seat restroom and begging for forgiveness. Put a quarter in a parking meter that is about to expire in front of the courthouse. NOT returning an insult.

I used to put anonymous note cards in other teacher’s boxes at work, telling them they are special or wonderful, particularly on occasion, if I don’t care for them. Giving away a gift card that I know I am not going to use instead of throwing it in a drawer. Giving a coat away to a kid at school.

Small inexpensive things. Small efforts that we often think about doing, but not ever really ever getting around to doing. I have done these things, but not nearly enough. Why? Because most of the time, I am too busy thinking about my own problems instead of someone else.

I appreciate your bringing this up, it has been on my mind for a while.

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