St Benedict on Lent

The mode of a monk's life ought at all times to favour that of Lenten observance. Since few, however, are capable of this we exhort every one in these days of Lent to guard his life in all purity, and during this holy season to wash away every negligence of other times. This we shall worthily accomplish if we restrain ourselves from every vice, and give ourselves to tearful prayer, to reading, to heartfelt sorrow and abstinence.

In these days of Lent, therefore, let us of our own accord add something to our usual yoke of service, such as private prayer, abstinence from food and drink. Let every one of his own will with joy of the Holy Ghost offer to God something above the allotted measure, that is, let him deny his body in food, drink, sleep, talking, or laughter, and with spiritual joy await the holy feast of Easter. On this condition, however, that each one inform his abbot what it is that he is offering, for what is done without leave of the spiritual father will be reckoned presumption and vain-glory, and merit no reward. All things, therefore, must be done with the approval of the abbot.

The Rule of St Benedict, chapter 49

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