Whenever I go to confession, I get the standard three Hail Mary's or three Our Father's for penance. Even when I've been really bad. The gravity of the sin does not seem to affect the severity of the penance. I wouldn't think it unfair to be given a penance of fasting for a day in reparation for my sins, or being asked to peform the corporal or spiritual works of mercy. It just seems so easy to recite the three prayers, even when I meditate on them with due contrition.
Penance is supposed to prompt us to detest our sins, and to amend our lives, isn't it? Well, here's a list of penances that probably would lessen our stay in purgatory:
Pat's Top Ten: Least Popular Medieval Penances
By Patrick Madrid Copyright
10. Standing barefoot in the snow for hours
9. Skunk hair shirts
8. Scrubbing castle walls with toothbrush
7. Memorizing the "Summa Theologiae"
6. Chewing tinfoil
5. Delivering papal condemnations to Martin Luther
4. Hand copying the entire Bible
3. Wasp licking
2. Anything involving anthills
1. The "thorn paddle"
Now, any one of these could really excite a person to true contrition, don't you think?