Fun With Penance…

… Sometimes you are just so rotten that your poor, patient confessor is forced to come up with administering a penance more challenging than the typical Hail Mary/Our Father combo of prayers.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I tend to be on the sarcastic side. My second grade teacher warned me once that I was going to spend all my life talking myself out of situations my mouth got me into. Never mind that it seems to have actually worked in my favor, getting paid to talk and write, but being a bit of a smart ass is not without its drawbacks. The result of a cynical mind is an inability to be charitable… to any one; family, friends, co-workers, ex’s, and children.

After awhile you just start to feel cranky, like all the time. Then all your kindness and patience slowly starts to drain away. By the time you’ve made it through your morning commute you’ve cursed and damned more people to hell than you can count. True story; to counter this infliction of road rage it was suggested I use my time sitting in traffic to pray the rosary.


Cut me off? I got your Hail Mary right here, jack ass!

This, of course, was not having the effect on my holiness that my friend had hoped. But don’t mistake me; I really do desire more for myself. Everyone longs to be a better version of their current selves. My desire is to be good, kind, and patient. The virtue my confessor suggested I pray for was magnanimity and he pointed me in the direction of St. Catherine of Sienna, who is known for her magnanimous soul.

As my penance I’m to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, give St. Catherine a ring, pray the novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, and perform acts of charity and kindness every day for an entire week. These acts of kindness are to be directed to the people who drive me the most insane.

Good lawd, that’s a lot of penance! But good lawd, I’m a big ole sinner.

Daunting, yes, but not without it’s humor. Imagine if you will, me, not notoriously known for my generosity and patience, suddenly showing up one day and smiling broadly for no damn good reason. Making coffee. Offering to pick up dinner. Let me get the door for you. Do you need help with that? No please, Mr. Talking-On-Your-Cell-Phone-While-You’re-Driving-Oblivious-To-Others-Around-You, you can merge into my lane and slam on your breaks. I’m a regular model of magnanimity. An ocean of calm and peaceful serenity.

Naturally everyone in my life is positively terrified of me right now. They don’t know if I’ve gone mad or am about to go postal. Or a little of both. Even people at work have started avoiding me. I should have done this years ago.

I know. I probably shouldn’t be enjoying penance this much. I definately shouldn’t delight in others suspicions of my motives. But it is really, truly hard to be in a bad mood with a grin plastered across your face.

I dare say I’m feeling a bit warm and fuzzy at the moment.
Well, there goes my street cred.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Karen

    Ugh, I am not a fan of those “creative” open-ended types of penances. I don’t get them all the time, but when our one priest is feeling creative I get some interesting ones. My most recent was to tell people about the adoration chapel to get the word out. That certainly worked well to nudge me out of my faith comfort zone.

  • mo

    I think we were twins separated at birth. Recently in confession, my pastor said “well . . . you’re just a mess.” Don’t know if I could’ve handled that penance though.

  • terentiaj63

    I drive for a living and road rage was a real problem with me. I knew something needed to change in me or there would be a terrible occurance someday. Praying the rosary didn’t really have the effect I wanted either. What changed me was to begin praying for every person I saw while driving starting with the first person I saw from behind the wheel. Usually all I could pray was “Bless them Lord,” but starting to pray before the anger took hold kept me calm.

  • Helene E. Wood

    The one thing I remember my mom saying to me over and over, “Oh honey, you and your mouth.” And yes, this is me – “After awhile you just start to feel cranky, like all the time. Then all your kindness and patience slowly starts to drain away.” Oh Lord have mercy.

  • Michael

    I have (almost)-always thought that the best revenge on someone was to pray for them. I was told by a secular Carmelite that a favorite rejoiner in their cloisters is “God reward you” to which we outsiders have added “as only He can”.

  • Gina101

    Wait. You get paid for writing? :P
    Cynicism has always been my cross. I hate it because it makes it difficult to “love thy neighbor.” But God has been working on me. He gave me two children with special needs. My patience has shot up! Yet still have a ways to go. I can’t imagine where I’d be in my journey toward heaven if it weren’t for them. God is good; He just doesn’t make it easy, does He?

  • Susan Windley-Daoust

    This just makes me laugh, laugh, laugh. Now be a good penitant and send me some bagels or something.

  • Melinda Loustalot

    I worked with a girl years ago who always seemed to have a smile on her face. .one day I asked her how she managed it and she replied (with a grin) “I’m just acting. .” and walked back to her office. .I took that to heart and resolved to get off the elevator every morning with a big ole smile on my face. .I’ve been a stay at home mom now for nearly 20 years and my kids know the bigger I smile, the more irritated I am. .

  • Sophie Bean

    Reminds me of my little treasure, ‘I will be so glad when lent is over so I don’t have to be nice to my brother any more.’ Right….

  • Jane Hartman

    You’re a hoot! You always evoke a laugh out of me.