The Rule of St. Benedict
Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent
Although the life of a monk ought at all times have the aspect of Lenten observance, yet, since few have strength enough for this, we exhort all during these days of Lent to lead lives of the greatest purity and to atone during this holy season for all the negligences of other times. This we shall do in a worthy manner if we refrain ourselves from all sin and give ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, and to compunction of heart and to abstinence. Therefore during these days, let us add something to our ordinary service, such as private prayers or abstinence from food and drink, so that each one may offer up to God in the joy of the Holy Spirit something over and above the measure appointed him: that is let him deny his body in food, in drink, in sleep, in superfluous talking, in mirth and withal, long for the holy feast of Easter with the joy of the spiritual desire.
Let each one, however, make known to his Abbot what he offers up, and let it be done with the assistance of his prayers and with his permission; because that which is done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward. All things, therefore, are to be done with the permission of the Abbot.
Meditation by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
Lent is a very important time and especially for monastics because we have a real sense of what it means to repent-- we’ve taken a vow of conversion. Lent is the time when we really look at that vow and ask, “What is happening in my life? Am I going towards the light or away from it?” Why is that important? We hear in the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, “As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. And it was night.” That has great significance. So often in the Rule, we exhorted to do things by the light of day. St. Benedict has a real sense of light and darkness. He has a sense that we are called to be children of light, not of darkness. There is nothing hidden from our God. Everything we do should be done for no other reason than for the love of God. Everything is in His presence. Nothing in our hearts is hidden: neither the motives, nor the desires, nor the wounds, nor the sufferings, nor the joys.
Live this Lent in perfect light. Hold everything up to God, to His judgment, not ours. Do not judge and you will not be judged! Take that seriously. God’s word is Truth. We will only see the full Truth when we die; but we live in it, in faith, right now. We have to believe those words. When we believe the words of God we empower them to have power over us. It is up to our free will to give God the power in our lives to convert us.