Penance is the way of strengthening to follow Jesus
As with the prophets, Jesus’ call to prayer and penance is not primarily directed at the exterior works such as ashes, fasting and mortification, but rather to the conversion of the heart.
We are called to have a compassionate heart, and penance strengthens us in the struggle against the sins that often we find abiding in us through our weaknesses.
We must have the need for inner change, to perform penance for the love of God, and to be attentive to every spark of pride that may be in us, so that we will overcome all that the devil uses against us.
Pride must be fought, and penance has this function of leading us to humility, for that is what is in the heart. The recognition of one’s limitations and the smallness that makes penance an attitude that unites us to God and dominates the self.
The path of mortification
Paragraph 2015 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the path of perfection passes through the cross, and there is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual combat. Spiritual progress involves the mortification that gradually leads us to live the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.
A saint of our times, Saint John Paul II, in the year 2000, raising the two shepherds of Fatima to the glory of the altars made it a point to emphasize the generosity with which both, at the request of Our Lady, gave themselves to penance for the poor sinners . He also made a point of pointing out how great was the little Francisco who wished to perform reparation of the offenses of sinners with prayers.
An example followed by her own sister, Jacinta, telling Francis,co shortly before her death, that she missed her Lord and Our Lady very much , and says that I suffer everything they want me to suffer for the conversion of sinners.
Penance and renunciation distract us from our own will and open us with joy and enthusiasm to receive the will of God . There is nothing more important in our lives than doing the Lord’s will.
May He touch our soul, and grant us the grace of deliverance through the fasting and mortification of all that has taken away his peace. When the trial and the battle comes God is greater.
The Word of God shows us, in Tobias 12: 1-15, the power of fasting. I want to challenge you, during this year of 2019, to fast one day a week, do not stay on bread and water. For a day, make the sacrifice of offering to refrain from a liquid or food that you like very much as a form of penance, and you will see how much God will act.