Rule of Benedict: chapter 49 “On the Observance of Lent”
Although the life of a monk out to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance…we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent the brethren keep their lives most pure and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the negligences of other times…and give ourselves up to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.
During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink. Thus everyone of his own will may offer God “with joy of the Holy Spirit” something above the measure required of him. From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking, and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter.
Rule of Benedict: chapter 52 “On The Oratory of the Monastery”And at other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart. She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said.
Rule of Benedict: chapter 49 On The Observance of Lent (cont’d)
Let each monk, however, suggest to his Abbot what it is that he wants to offer, and let it be done with his blessing and approval. For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward. Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot’s approval.
Our Lenten resolutions, received and blessed by the Prioress on Ash Wednesday, remain before the altar throughout the Lenten season as a reminder to us and a continuous offering and sacrifice to the Lord. Ash Wednesday also began our monastic Lenten traditions of sacrifice and almsgiving. As a community, we join the Universal Church in continuing our Friday sacrifice and abstinence from meat; however, we also add an additional simple supper of soup and bread on Wednesdays. Finally, we refrain from our Sister Baker’s fresh-made treats throughout the Lenten season.
Our community also shares in the Benedictine tradition of table reading during our weekday suppers. This Lent we are sharing in listening to stories of the Saints who have lived this call to mercy in their service to others to honor this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Our Benedictine family is also joining in almsgiving; the Sunday donations to the monastery and our sisters own personal offerings, reserved from their personal budgets, will be offered to AIM, Alliance for International Monasticism.
Pope Francis reminds us that “the season of Lent during this Jubilee year should be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy”. Sister Penny, Prioress of our Monastery, reflected on this quote in her Ash Wednesday reflection to the community.
“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, in this Lenten season of conversion to a “Heart of Mercy,” let us remember together some simple truths…Our Lenten resolutions express our desire to become more Christ-like, more like our loving, merciful God. So, each day let’s consider our experience of God’s mercy – directly encountered through our prayer and lectio; through the sacraments; or through natural beauty – and mercy experienced through the people and events of our daily lives. Let’s ask ourselves: Today how has God’s mercy touched my life? How has mercy touched the lives of those around me? When did I grasp that generous, sturdy kind of mercy? In whom did I sense that tender, calm, abiding mercy? What is mercy telling me? How does mercy want me to act towards my Sisters, my co-workers? Whose wound needs tending? What hunger is there to feed, or thirst to quench? Who is imprisoned or ill and needs my visit? To whom shall I offer shelter, a listening ear? What dead thing in me must I bury?
Return to “One Heart and One Soul”