Penance is a discipline. In and of itself, penance is not an end (so it’s not about giving up a good thing), but a means to acquiring a greater good. Take a moment to pray with God and consider, who would be the ideal person I would love to have as my best friend? Now you know the person God is inviting you to strive to be. What are the impediments in me (character flaws) that hold me back from being that best version of myself I saw in the ideal person I would love to have as my best friend? To make it simple, try to identify 7 flaws in yourself and the respective means (realistic and doable) to work on each flaw. Then dedicate one day a week to work on one of the 7 flaws with your daily discipline. This becomes your Lenten penance which over 40 days will yield a new habit of becoming your best self! This is the person God dreams for you to be!
Alms is the tithing of what God has entrusted to us for the service of others. God delights in a cheerful giver. He has all of us endowed with means to serve, whether that be through treasure, talent, or time. Our fallen nature is such that we all have a tendency to hold on to that which we have freely received from God. Alms giving primes the pump of generosity to serve joyfully our neighbour. Once again, let’s take a moment to pray with the Lord to discern the means He has endowed me such that I might be about doing good works with my gifts. Jesus reminds us that the measure you measure out to others will be measured unto us, so let your left hand not know what your right hand is doing. After 40 days of generously serving the one He places me before me, I will experience a greater wealth in my soul than any human resource could acquire.
Let these days of Lent with the Lord surprise me with the joy of having lived the best 40 days of the year. God never disappoints, and moreover God will never be outdone in generosity. This is our challenge, are you willing to accept the journey?