Giving up something is the most well-known aspect of Lenten penance. We should also try to pray more fervently and to carry out acts of charity, but it would be wrong to dismiss the tradition of fasting and mortification which was followed by Jesus and the apostles and has always been a part of the life of the Church.
Compared to many in our world today, and to most people in history, we live materially comfortable lives with access to sanitation, clean water, food, shelter and heating. Yet we still crave more possessions and have a low tolerance for any discomfort. This can harm our friendship with Jesus because we tend to give passing things a higher place than our spiritual good. This tendency comes from original sin which wounds our nature, and the damage of our past sins. Our Lord Himself said that we must take up the Cross to follow Him.
Our Lenten penances help us to overcome this weakness and return to a deeper spiritual life so that we can celebrate the life of grace which was won for us by Our Lord’s passion and triumphant resurrection.