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Lately I've been thinking about how the saints achieved greater sanctity (and how often I fall short) and it's got me wondering if there are norms for how ordinary Catholics can do penance each day (except Sundays and feast days, of course) for our sins the the conversion of souls, the Holy Souls, etc. I was taught as a child to offer up trials for these causes, but I want to go out of my way a little more than that.

I'm not currently in a good position to get a spiritual director, and I know that laymen aren't supposed to delve into eccentricities without pastoral guidance, so I'm hoping to find tried and true practices that are approved for every Catholic to adopt without the explicit advice of a priest. I'm happy to start small, too.


p.s. I'm becoming familiar with the first Saturdays practice, but my work schedule precludes adopting it for now.
You can up the ante on abstinence from meat to Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Something I learned is giving up something in the short term. I learned it from some monastic something or other. Say you want to postpone doing some work because you want a coke or a cig. Bite the bullet and do the work with joy pushing back the pleasure until later. You can extend this all day long, and these little sacrifices add up. I also pray the Divine Praises every day. They are often prescribed for penance for having a foul mouth or swearing etc. I offer it up for all of the excrement which comes out of mouths through out the world. Our Lady at La Sallette said this swearing stuff was angering her Son. This one isn't  the same as participating at Mass, but Christ the King offers a TLM everyday on the net, and I'd bet in a pinch on Saturday it'd be a substitute.


Abstain from meat more often, fast more often, take cold showers instead of hot ones, watch TV less, skip your morning coffee...lots of possibilities.
The continuous focus on PENANCES is one of the major things that drove the Liberals/Modernists crazy prior to Vatican 2, they wanted a more joyful faith they said and not this continuous focus on doing penances at all times , going to confession constantly, keeping to the letter of the laws in the church. I'm just mentioning this to those who weren't there where the Liberals came up with these guitar masses, holding hands and such, they hated the faith being penitental.
Fulton Sheen said, "sacrifice is pain with the love of God; pain is sacrifice without the love of God".  The example is a woman who's not eating.  If she's not eating just to lose weight, then it's pain.  But if she is fasting because it's Lent, then it's sacrifice.

What he was saying is that we can all do penance daily - and usefully - by offering up every day sufferings as penance.  Very few of us get to charge into battle for the faith with guidons flying, and die a glorious death.....but all of us get stuck in traffic every day.  Offer that frustration, resentment, and anger - i.e., - "suffering" as a sacrifice.  Learn to prayerfully accept it as one of the unavoidable burdens of the world.

Or the complete bore that you have to put up with at work - when he corrals you for a conversation, extend him charitable courtesy, and offer the difficulty of doing so as a penance.
Thanks for all the good ideas, I hope to gradually incorporate a lot of these into my daily routine. Also, I think I will look for a prayer short enough to memorize that I can say at times throughout the days. Any suggestions would be welcome.

I pray this when someone pops in my mind, whether they are militant or not, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one glory be to the Father, and the Fatima prayer. Sometimes when it's a friend that has passed, I thnk it's my Guardian Angel giving me a nudge for them.

Try reading Frequent Confession by Benedict Baur

Also consider some kind of regular corporal work of mercy -- Saint Vincent De Paul Society, volunteer at a hospital or library, ask around your parish/chapel and see if any families need help.  Only if this if prudent for you of course.