Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving

Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving is by Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal from his series on meditations In Conversation with GodDaily Meditations Volume Two: Lent and Eastertide, 1.2:

True conversion is shown by the way we behave.  We show that we really want to improve by the way we do our work or our study.  We show it by the way we behave towards our family; by offering up to God, in the course of the day, little mortifications which make life for those around us more pleasant, and which make our work more effective.  We can also show it by making a careful preparation for and going frequently to Confession.

Today God asks us also for a rather special mortification, which we offer up cheerfully: it is fasting and abstinence, which strengthens our spirit as it mortifies our flesh and our sensuality.  It raises our soul to God.  It gets rid of concupiscence by giving us the strength to overcome and to mortify our passions, and it disposes our heart that it may seek for nothing except to please God in everything.9

During Lent the Church asks for these signs of penance (abstinence from the age of fourteen, and fasting between the ages of eighteen and the end of our fifty-ninth year), which bring us closer to God and give a special joy to the soul.  She also asks us to be generous in giving alms.  We should practice this with a merciful heart, wanting to console someone in need or to contribute, according to our means, to some work or apostolate for the good of souls.  All Christians can practice almsgiving – not only the rich and powerful, but hose too who are no more than moderately well off and even the poor; in this way people who are unequal in their capacity to give alms are equal in the love and affection with which they give.1

Detachment from material goods, mortification and abstinence purify us from our sins and help us to find God in our everyday life.  For whoever seeks God whilst wanting to hold on tho his own likes an dislikes, may seek Him day and night, but will never find Him2.  Our daily duties are the principal source of this mortification; order, punctuality in starting our work concentration and intensity we bring to it, etc.  Through our contact with others we will find occasion to mortify our selfishness and help create a more pleasant atmosphere around us.  And the best mortification is that which overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life in little things throughout the day.  Ours should be mortifications which to not mortify others, and which give us more ‘finesse’, more understanding and more openness in our dealings with everybody.  You are not mortified if you are touchy; if your every thought is for yourself; if you humiliate others; if you do not know how to give up what is unnecessary and, at times, what is necessary; if you become gloomy because things don’t’ turn out the way you had hoped.  On the other hand, you can be sure you are mortified if you know how to make yourself ‘all things to all men, in order to save all. (1 Cor 9:22)3.

Each one of us must draw up a specific plan of mortifications to offer to God every day during this Lent.


[1] Saint Francis de Sales, Sermon on Fasting

[2] Divine Office, Second Reading, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Saint Leo the Great

[3] Saint John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 1, 3

Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving by Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal from his series on meditations In Conversation with GodDaily Meditations Volume Two: Lent and Eastertide, 1.2: can be purchased here.

For a sneak peek of this great book click here.

4 Responses to Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving

  1. American Knight says:

    A friend who belongs to Opus Dei turned me onto these books during Advent at an Opus Dei Men’s reflection. I can’t say that I have read them everyday, perhaps 85% of the time since.

    Amazing. That’s all I can say. I take them to Mass with me and read them after the after Mass prayers. What a fantastic help. The insights and lessons are inspired. What a great place to get perspective from the Communion of Saints, the Popes and the Magestirium.

    I recommend In Conversation with God to anyone and everyone who wants to increase their faith and understanding (in that order).

    We are dust but if you own these books they won’t get any dust on them.

  2. Tito Edwards says:


    I agree.

    The In Conversation With God series has brought me ever closer to God. It is worth someones while to pick up the book and start reading.

    A great way to do something for Lent!

  3. American Knight says:


    I never thought about the statement from your last sentence until this Lent. We all give something up and when we think of it or desire it we turn to God; however, I don’t know too many people who DO SOMETHING for Lent as opposed to NOT doing something. Sure, we may give the money we save from our habit, whether it be beer, chocolate or whatever, but that is not necessarily the same as DOING something.

    I think it is helpful, and these books are great for it, to add something to our spiritual life during Lent and God willing it will become part of us in Easter and beyond.

  4. Tito Edwards says:


    I remember the “spirit of Vatican II” rage of “doing” something for Lent instead of “giving” something up.

    In the end I decided to do both (just to be safe!)


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