Hard penance ideas?

I am looking for more difficult penance acts. Do any of you have any ideas? Because most penances seem waaaay too easy. I want to do something harder and I just can’t think or find anything.

One thing I do as a mild physical penance is kneel on the bare floor during Mass, no kneeler. I think the mild discomfort involved is an effective penance and helps to keep your focus.

Put a pebble in your shoe.

Don’t say one bad word about anyone for the entire Lent.
Be kind to everyone, especially those whom you instinctively do not like or who have personalities that rub you the wrong way.

That would please Our Lord way more than pebbles in shoes or kneeling on hard floors. And much, much harder too.


If your health allows it, only eat at meal times–no snacks–and only 1 serving at each meal–no seconds.

Of course, a hard penance for one person may be an easy one for another! Some would find giving up their morning cup(s) of coffee much harder than my suggestion… So give up or reduce that which is most difficult for *you. *

And don’t go overboard, which might be a sign of pride.

Penance without change is pointless.
This penance is so hard that most will dismiss it.

To be honest to the very core of self.

Grasping your own truth will reveal one’s fears of change, and lack of faith.
Without faith in God there is no change.

Make a list of people who have harmed you, and forgive them.

Then, make a list of people you have caused harm and go make it right, face to face.

What’s wrong with the penance given by the priest?

Will it make you more worthy if you do a hard penance?

I think we are talking more about mortification than worthiness. Not necessarily corporal mortification, but mortification of the soul for spiritual growth.

just make sure no one knows about it.
it’s for you, not for everyone to know.

I’m not sure what mortification of the soul is.

I guess the idea is that physical suffering leads to some kind of spiritual growth. I guess that’s possible for some people. But in this case, we’re talking about self-imposed suffering. There’s no point to that. Self-imposed suffering for the purpose of spiritual growth is kind of selfish. One could rationalize that a guy could go out and intentionally sin so he’d have a reason to punish himself.

I don’t believe that self-imposed suffering will lead to the kind of growth a person would experience if he were to suffer as a consequence or side-effect of working toward a greater good. Walking with a pebble in your shoe won’t grow you the way you’d grow, say, if you gave your life to work with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.

If the priest gives you a penance and you follow the penance–you’re good. Nothing more needs to be done, nothing more can be done.

Yep, that is very hard, but also very worthwhile. :thumbsup:

When we sin, there is damage done on the spiritual level; this needs to be repaired. If it is not repaired in this life, it will need to be done in the next.

Yes, if one confesses and does the small penance given by the priest, one will avoid Hell, but one still faces a painfully cleansing period in Purgatory. Penances we perform in this life can reduce our time in Purgatory, or if we request it, the time of particular souls(s) or souls in general who are in Purgatory. They are unable to pray for themselves, so we must help them in this way–it is why we pray for the dead.

So doing penance is extremely important in the spiritual life!

Additionally, penances and mortifications help us to grow more holy. Yes, accepting the slings and arrows of life is very good, and carries the extra grace of being obedient, but taking on more is also an important part of spiritual growth, and why the Church mandates periods of penance like Lent.

“The best penance is to have patience with the sorrows God permits.”
– St. Peter Damian

In these cases, though, the penitent is setting his own penance. A pebble can become a sharp stone, can become an infection, can do damage in the belief that harming oneself pleases God.

Any believer would find the catechism of the Council of Trent helpful. It was praised often by the Magisterium, and noteworthy and affirmed by the catechism that provides life from the Second Vatican Council. The older Roman Catechism teaches the parts of the sacrament of penance, one of which that pertains to ‘hard penance’ is called Satisfaction. While the newer catechism explains that Friday is the particular day for Satisfaction, but yet it is not solely exclusive to that day.

I would also note that in the newer catechism, spiritual direction is mentioned as an aspect of Satisfaction. According to the Hermits of Bethlehem, this is a process of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, working through a desert father or mother, leading the hermit to a deeper understanding of God’s Will, a purification of the false self, a recognition of the difference between good and evil tendencies, a strengthening of the will to make right choices.

The desert fathers in Egypt knew how necessary it was to have a spiritual director in order to do hard penance. How hard and when fallen under the virtue of obedience and discretion. Finally St. Jerome wrote in a letter that we do penance for the sake of virtue, rather than virtue for the sake of penance. St John of the Cross said penance ought to be means to right conduct not the end in view as the right conduct.

Double the penance given to you by the priest after Confession. Have cold showers. Distribute devotional magazines in the streets of a city. Determine your greatest weakness and practice the virtue contrary to it.

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Accept every humiliation that comes to you without grumbling, complaining, excusing yourself, etc.

Whoa, buddy!

If you don’t have a director, get one. If you can’t, ask Father after mass, just like this, “What could I do for mortification on a regular basis?”

He’ll most likely give you something soft, which will annoy you because you probably want to look like Silas from The Da Vinci Code but instead are just going to be told to skip a meal twice a week. In the words of the Mother, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Obedience is the best penance. Don’t argue with Father, just accept what he gives you.

If you don’t have a director, looking for “hard penances” is foolish. Just accept with joy the penances that come your way. The corpus in our spiritual heritage on how dangerous the idea of looking for hard penances can be is larger than the corpus encouraging their practice.

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