Saint Francis of Assisi wrote the following letter to all the faithful:
All those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength and love their neighbors as themselves, who hate their bodies with their vices and sins, who receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who produce worthy fruits of penance. O how happy and blessed are these men and women while they do such things and persevere in doing them, because the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and make Its home and dwelling place among them, and they are children of the heavenly Father Whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. ("Earlier Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance," in Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, Vol. 1, pp. 41-42)
This letter forms the basis of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order:
United by their vocation as "brothers and sisters of penance," and motivated by the dynamic power for the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the Gospel itself calls "conversion." (Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 7)
How do I live out this article of the rule to which I have professed my life? How can I conform my thoughts and deeds to those of Christ and produce worthy fruits of penance?
I need a mirror. I need to take a good hard look at who I am, what my values are, and see if they conform to the teaching of Christ in the Gospels.
As someone who thinks that science is really, really cool, I found that the HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised Edition can be a useful mirror. This inventory measures the six dimensions of personality--Honesty/Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience. The results of this inventory are a reflection of who I am. Does this reflection look a little bit like Christ?
Not so much.
The results of the inventory revealed that I scored below the median in modesty, gentleness, and prudence. These are traits I need to develop if I want to grow spiritually. This is my penance.
Complete the inventory yourself (or better yet, have someone complete the inventory about you). What is your penance?