Lenten Acts of Penance


By Sarah Jannings

LAKE MICHIGAN CATHOLIC- Here at Lake Michigan Catholic Schools, the observation of Lent and Lenten acts of penance is very important.  When forty-four LMC High School students responded to a survey about their Lenten acts of penance, the largest percentage chose to give up a certain food/beverage.

Sophomore, Hattie Latham, who chose to give up eating snacks after school said, “It’s just something I always do, so it is something I decided to do again.”  

Following the category of giving up a certain food/beverage is random acts of kindness.  Many students choose to do this because it not only helps them grow in their spiritual life, but also aids in their journey to becoming a better person.  

Freshman, Connor Shooks said, “I pledged to practice my chello every single day for discipline and also one act of kindness every day to help make the world a better place.”

The sacrifices and extra activities we do for Lent help us grow closer to Christ and by not participating fully in Lent, we miss out on many graces.  It is not necessary to be perfect, but we should put forth a good effort.

Junior Ben Johnston, who chose a more traditional act of penance said, “My act of penance was praying at least one rosary a week, along with fasting when the calendar says so, even though I’m not at the age requirement yet.  I chose this because Mary bestows infinitely many graces on those who regularly pray the rosary, and it’s good to get in the habit of praying every day. I chose fasting because I knew I could handle it, and it would prepare me for the later years of my life when I actually do have to fast.”
Other Lenten acts of penance include spending more time in prayer, spending more time at mass/penance outside of school hours, and spending less time on electronics.  

The season of Lent is a Catholic liturgical season that consists of forty days of fasting, prayer, and penitence. It begins on Ash Wednesday and is concluded at sundown on Holy Thursday.  The observance of Lent is related to the celebration of Easter.

In the first three centuries of the Christian era, most Christians prepared for Easter by fasting and praying for three days. In some places this was extended to the entire week before Easter (now known as “Holy Week”).  

The Catholic Church, in an attempt to help Catholics do at least a minimum during Lent, asks all Catholics to fast and abstain from meat on certain days.  In addition to fasting and abstinence, many Catholics were taught as children to “give up something” for Lent.

Throughout history, Christians have found prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to be an important part of repentance and renewal.  Many Catholics now add an action during Lent rather than giving up something, either to address personal habits that need work, or to add some outreach to others in need.  

The Church does not specifically require that we do something beyond the requirements of fasting and abstinence.  To do nothing, however, would certainly not be in the spirit of Lent.