Do something nice

I apologize in advance if this doesn’t belong in this section.

I went to Confession this morning at a different parish, and received the penance of “Do something nice for someone in need today.” There was emphasis on the “in need” and “today.” And the more I think about it, the more confused I’m getting.

I mean, I’m at work for the next 7 hours. There’s not really an opportunity to do something nice for someone here. Nothing like “hold the door,” unless it’s the bathroom door, but that might be a bit odd and creepy.

After work I have to go grocery shopping. Automatic doors, greeters already push a cart into your way so you take it at Walmart. I suppose I could part far from the entrance and let somebody take the good space. That is, if I do the driving, or the person picking me up drives instead.

My mom did mention vacuuming tonight. I could always do that. But then, is she in need? To me, that means somebody who is doing without something, perhaps a homeless person. There’s not really, to my knowledge, panhandling here. I think it’s illegal. I know that some homeless that stay at the shelter (don’t know where that is) use the library during the day (don’t know where that is either). And I can’t imagine it would be appropriate to even walk up to somebody and say “Excuse me, are you homeless or in need?” in order to do something nice for them.

And then there is the “today” part. And that I will be without a car in about 2 hours until I’m done with work.

I could donate money online to a charity. But that just seems like a cop out. Too easy. Then again, so does the “1 Hail Mary” penance I got once.

And so, the vacuuming for my mom seems to be the one to do. Unless she does it before I get home. She’ll be home before I do.

The “in need” part does not necessarily mean someone homeless and destitute. It could mean listening to someone who needs to talk or “holding someone’s hand” (figuratively) while they do something difficult. It might be talking to the old man in the check-out line at WalMart who has no one to talk to. Or being patient and having a kind word for the stressed out cashier. Can you pick up lunch for someone at work who has too much to do to take a break?

I think part of what a penance does is to get us out of ourselves and thinking, and this one has certainly done that for you. But, I wouldn’t over think it. Trust that God will put someone in your path today with a need that you can help. And if you don’t run across that person, I would say that helping your mom with the vacuuming or donating to an online charity or saving the good parking place for someone else (even if you don’t see them) are all good things.

Acadian has given you good advice. Something else to consider would be picking up groceries for the soup kitchen while you are at the grocery store (with your own money not your mom’s). If the parish has a St. Vincent’s pantry, you could drop the non-perishables off there.

If this penance makes you more aware of those around you and their possibly unspoken needs, than it’s probably doing what the priest indended. :wink:

Pray a Rosary for someone in need.

That would be a challenge.
And I don’t mean that sarcastically, either.
I don’t know how to pray for the intention of somebody.

That was the other part of my penance. To pray 2 Our Fathers and 2 Hail Marys for the soldiers in Iraq. It’s the second part the confuses me. I can pray those prayers. How do I make it so it’s for the soldiers, or for the Rosary, for someone in need?
I just said “I’m praying this for the soldiers in Iraq” and went on saying the Our Father and Hail Mary. Is that all there is to it?

edited to add: I’ll admit, since returning, there’s stuff that I’ve realized I forgot. But I don’t think I was ever taught how to pray an Our Father for somebody. Sure, the “I pray that John and his family are well, etc…, Amen.”

Smile at strangers. A real, genuine smile.

That’s all there is to it. when I pray a rosary (or we pray as a family) we simply announce our intentions at the start… “for the soldiers” or “for cousin Sue”.

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