Guest post by Fr. Goyo Hidalgo, California.
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Let’s talk about Lenten penance:
1. Penance doesn’t mean that we are better than other people.
2. It doesn’t depend on what we give up: as we think that giving up beer is holier than giving up chocolate or bread.
3. Penance becomes just a diet if your heart doesn’t change. If it doesn’t transform you to be better.
4. What’s difficult for some might be easier for others. I don’t drink alcohol, so giving up beer for me is not a sacrifice.
5. The point of it all is that by sacrificing something, we are more aware of the sacrifice of Christ for us. It gives us the discipline to stop bad habits and pick up holier habits. It also gives us the opportunity to reflect on our sins and practice (discipline) to not fall. It makes us more aware of others’ suffering.
6. THE WHOLE POINT OF MY POST was not about competing to see who has the biggest penance, but to encourage us all that even when we fall and fail, we can try again and again. That’s the practice and discipline to become better everyday.
So I hope that if you already failed in your penance, that you try again until it becomes a holy habit during the whole year, whether you gave up chocolate, alcohol, or gossip, or lying, or insulting drivers in the freeway.
Those good habits will help you develop virtues like picking up more prayer time. Being more loving. Picking up a spiritual book or simply going to confession more.
I wish you all a wonderful journey towards holiness this Lent and the whole year.