Although the life of a monk ought to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance, yet since few have the virtue for that, 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.
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” (1 Thess. 1:6)
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. Let each one, 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.
Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 49