Getting ready for Lent...

As Lent starts this Wednesday I thought now might be a good time to remind you of the provisions relating to Lent in the Rule of St Benedict.  There are two key ones, relating to reading a book right through (chapter 48) and offering something by way of extra asceticism.

St Benedict, of course, wants whatever is offered to be approved by the Abbot, who also traditionally assigns the book to be read during the season.

The approval of a superior or spiritual director, though, isn't always possible these days, so you may need to be guided by general principles, such as Benedictine moderation, and the importance of picking something that you can persevere with, rather than attempting to be over-ambitious.

I will post some suggestions on books and prayers tomorrow.

CHAPTER XLIX OF THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT

THE life of a monk ought at all times to be Lenten in its character; but since few have the strength for that, we therefore urge that in these days of Lent the brethren should lead lives of great purity, and should also in this sacred season expiate the negligences of other times.

This will be worthily done if we refrain from all sin and apply ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

In these days, therefore, let us add something to the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence in food and drink.

Let each one, over and above the measure prescribed for him, offer to God something of his own free will in the joy of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, let him stint himself of food, drink, sleep, talk and jesting, and look forward with the joy of spiritual longing to the holy feast of Easter.

Let each one, however, tell his abbot what he is offering, and let it be done with his consent and
blessing; because what is done without the permission of the spiritual father shall be reckoned as presumption and vainglory and not as merit. Everything, therefore, is to be done with the approval of the abbot.

SACRED READING (ch 48)

...In the days of Lent let them apply themselves to their reading from the morning until the end of the third hour, and from then until the end of the tenth hour let them perform the work that is assigned to
them. In these days of Lent let them each receive a book from the library, which they shall read right through from the beginning; let these books be given out at the beginning of Lent.

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