It’s only a week till Lent begins! Here at the monastery we have been thinking and praying for some time, about what will be our Lenten resolutions, and what will be the book we read straight through, as St Benedict enjoins. Our resolutions are all given to our Superior, that all may be conducted in obedience and not through (sometimes ill-advised) personal dictates.

Here is a portion of the Holy Rule: ‘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. … 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’.

As you make your own preparation, let it be done in freedom and joy, and may God bless you this day.