Not only was ordinary life in a monastic community in the Middle Ages rather basic and even harsh, especially compared to our standards today, but during Lent they added onto their usual discipline, making it quite the penitential season. I wonder if movie versions that include hair shirts, fasting to the point of fainting,and knotted cords for discipline may have been too close for comfort!
Rule of Benedict Ch. 49: "The life of a monastic ought to be a continuous Lent...This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge in evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink...In other words, let each one deny herself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting..."
Today Lent is still noticeably different here, especially in practices, though the intentions are the same. The opportunity to spend more time in reading and quiet, eating moderately, and experiencing special prayer are still valued and important parts of our Lenten season.
If you're nearby and could use any of the above, please come--especially for weekends when our Saturday night Vigil of Sunday and Sunday morning Liturgy are quite special.
Click here for reflections on Lent by our prioress.
"Lent is a time for trimming the soul and scraping the sludge off a life turned slipshod." Sister Joan Chittister (newspaper "Celebrity Cipher" on Ash Wednesday!)