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Lessons from a 7 Year Old


Have you ever stopped to reflect on how your Lenten penance changed you? Or did you any good?  If you’re like me, you probably started watching TV, scrolling, and eating all the sweets on Easter Sunday and never looked back. 


My niece made her First Communion this year, and she chose to give up candy as her penance.  And she did it, y’all!  All 46 days! She didn’t even relax on Sundays.  She is like me in that she is eating all the candy now, but she stopped me in my tracks when she said, “I didn’t like doing it, but I know I can do it now.” 


She learned that she can do hard things!


How many times have I given up on a quest because the journey seemed too daunting? 


But the problem is not the difficulty of the journey.  The problem is that I don’t want to do it, or, even worse, I don’t believe I can accomplish it. The truth is that this is something I would have beaten myself up over in the past, but now I see it as an alarm bell.  It’s the signal that I’m leaning on my own strength instead of leaning into God and knowing that I can do anything with His strength behind me.


One of the purposes of a Lenten Penance is to help us grow in virtue, guiding us closer to God in all that we do.  It helps us to create the habit of asking Christ to be with us and help us through even the most minor struggles, so that when we are faced with one of life’s larger struggles, we automatically move through it in His company and with His guiding hand.


Now that there has been some distance from our Lenten Penance, I think it’s a good time to reflect on how we’ve grown in virtue, and maybe pay attention to how often we talk with God about the minor struggles in our days and also with the minor wins!   We often forget to celebrate the small stuff because we judge it to be insignificant.  The reality is that God has gifted us with those wins, no matter how small, and He wants to celebrate with us. 

He wants us to feel the joy of those moments as much as He enjoys them!


For example, I put parameters around TV and social media usage this Lent.  It was not easy at first.  There was a little bit of pouting and boredom involved, but I made the conscious effort to talk with God about it. 

I told Him I was pouting and bored. 

I told Him I didn’t like it.

I told Him that I was upset with Him for even asking me to try it. 

Then I listened to Him. 

He reminded me that it was for my good. 

He reminded me that He’s got me. 

He reminded me that I don’t have to lean on my own strength because I have His.


Of course, after a few days, I noticed how much of a time suck those things are for me.  I knew it going in.  That’s why I chose to put those parameters in place.  What I realized though is how much free time I had.  You know the main excuse I used to not do something I enjoyed doing!  The sacrifice of one seemingly important thing opened up space for something that I love doing, something that is actually important to me – learning.

I love to read.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until then.  Practicing the virtue of temperance, something that I perceived would be really hard to do, was actually so rewarding that I almost don’t think of it as sacrifice now. How can it be considered a sacrifice to spend more time in conversation with God and deepening our friendship?  If that isn’t reward enough, He showed me that I do have the time to spend on something that fills my cup.


My questions for you now are: How have you grown in virtue through penance?  Have you ever thought about it before?


Wishing you Love and Light!



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