I’m curious as to the types of things “regular” people do for penance. When-what-why-how often. Does it seem to work for you to deepen your spiritual path or whatever result your are looking for?
For instance if I’m mowing my father-in-law’s lawn as a form of penance I will regularly be thinking angry thoughts towards my sibling- in - laws because they don’t do anything for him except show up once a week or once every other month depending on who it is. Some of them are too busy at camp so my wife and I are the ones left as care givers. I offer it up-tell her she should let it go and get angier and angried while mowing. Doesn’t seem much like penance if it strengthens my egoic feelings,but I continue to do this and other things in the hopes of deepen my practice. Any thoughts anyone would like to share on their experiences. Anyone do penance without being told to by their priest, just acting on their individual needs? Blessings.
I may sound a bit dimwitted here, but I honestly couldn’t tell if you were saying “…if I’m mowing my father-in-law’s lawn as a form of penance, I will regularly be thinking angry thoughts…” or “…if I’m mowing my father-in-law’s lawn, as a form of penance I will regularly be thinking angry thoughts…” (Note comma placement)
Since I can’t envision being angry at someone as an effective penance, I imagine you meant that you are mowing the lawn as penance. Now, when I do something like this, I don’t so much think of it as penance, but I suppose if it is a good deed that isn’t entirely comfortable to you, then you could envision it as a penance. That’s not really how I see it though. I usually see penance more as prayer or a willing act that you do with the intention of bringing you closer to God. Other folks probably have far better advice, but somehow it’s hard for me to see lawn-mowing as penance.
Okay, lets see if I have this straight…
You are mowing your father-in-laws lawn as a self prescribed penance for some sin you feel you need to make atonement for…and while cutting the grass, you get angry about other family members who don’t lift a hand to help him while you do.
Couple of thoughts come to mind…
If it is an act of penance, and if you prescribed it yourself, why should you be angry at someone else. It seems your cutting the grass is to serve you, and not out of charity to your father-in-law, because if you had no penance to do, you wouldn’t be cutting his grass.
Okay, so if that’s the case, and you can’t help your ill feelings when you cut the grass, why not make your act of penance to pay a neighborhood kid to cut your father-in-lawns grass, and then you won’t be put in a position to be angry…
Or, better yet, why not cut your father-in-law’s grass just as an act of love, but don’t be upset because others aren’t doing the same…remember Christ’s words about one hand knowing what the other is doing, or blowing trumpets, etc…
And, go to confession instead of prescribing your own penance. Because while you may prescribe penance, only a priest, in the person of Christ can forgive sins…you cannot forgive your own…its kinda like answering your own prayers…you should let God answer, because when you answer your own prayers, your answer is more than likely going to be the wrong answer!
Thank you both for the input-gave me some things to think about. First I really need to brush up on my communication skills so folks know what I’m trying to say.
Mowing his lawn is penance for my in my view because sometimes I have planned to be out cycling or kayaking or even just going to the grocery store when I’m asked to help-so to me it seems like I can call it penance to make up for sins/wrongs I’ve commited.
I do try not to get upset while mowing but much easier said than done. I just get angry while mowing so am wondering about the benefit of penance in that instance. Can’t go to confession-not catholic. Not blowing any horns-this is the only place I’ve mentioned this-not even to my wife. Blessings.