There are two ways -
First: we can impose sacrifices upon ourselves. Surely, if the little children of Fatima did, we too can endure deprivations in eating and drinking, in rest and recreation; we too can bear up with heat and cold. And why should we hesitate to imitate them even in their afflictive penances, according to our state of life and generosity?
Secondly, if we would do penance, we must accept the trials God sends in His divine Providence. These trials are a more perfect penance because they are unsought for; they are more effective more crucifying, because they are often constant and irremovable; they are safer, being proofs against vanity and illusion; they are the end of all the other sacrifices, the real purpose of the penances we inflict upon ourselves. Voluntary restraint paves the way for voluntary acceptance of every day trials:
- Trials through bodily sufferings: sickness, accidents, infirmities, age; even the inclemencies of weather and climate constitute an annoying cross;
- Trials on the economic side: in business, in the raising of crops, reverses, losses, failures, poverty and stress.
- Trials in the family: from the rearing of children, the insubordination of youth; the inevitable frictions, quarrels, differences, separations, the death of loved ones - all heavy crosses.
- Trials in intellectual and vocational pursuits: mental sufferings, worries, the hardships of learning, the tests and trials that are examinations, the anguish of the vocation problem, disappointments heartbreaks bitterness...
- Trials in the apostolate: the pastor toils and wears himself out only to reap indifference, forgetfulness, ingratitude.
- Trials even in the spiritual and interior life: trials in prayer, dryness, temptation, apparent abandonment by God...
Yet, to be of value, these trials must not only be endured, they must be accepted:
- With resignation, since they come from heaven, even if they are the result of the ill will of men, even if they are distateful and repugnant, even while we endeavor to rid ourselves legitimately from them. "Not my will, but Thine be done", should be the watchword.
- We should endure our God-given trials with love. The prayer of the children of Fatima before making or accepting a sacrifice can well be our prayer too: "O my Jesus, I offer this for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for all the wrongs done to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
- We should receive our trials with gratitude. "Yet more, O Lord, yet more", was the fervent reaction of the saints in the midst of sufferings. They realized that no better lot can befall the disciple and the child than that of resembling his Master and his Mother.
- We should bear our trials with the intention of applying the satisfactory merits of our sufferings to souls, to beg graces for them; we should offer our sacrifices for specific intentions, for the specific intentions recommended by Our Lady. This counsel is as sound theologically as it is simple in practice. It is sound, for in complying with it we can imitate the Divine Model und unite ourselvers with Him, offering Himself and His life and Passion for the expiation of sin. It is simple: even little children can understand und practice it. Parents and teachers fulfill their sacred mission when they teach their litte ones "to offer it up".