From St. Mary Euphrasia: Dear Sisters, we are now offered a new stream of graces, of interior life, of holiness: it is Lent. Prepare to spend it well. It seems clear that it was instituted by the Apostles, in memory of our Lord's fast in the desert. In the Church's early days, the fast was very strict; one ate only once a day and that towards evening; and then taking only vegetables, herbs and fruit and, very occasionally, a little fish.
Furthermore the fast included Sundays. The custom of making them an exception was brought in later, as a protest against some heretical views, adding instead the days from Ash Wednesday so making the forty days. Today the Church has mitigated the rigors of Lenten observance: a concession to the needs of the times and to the weakness of constitutions. For all that, we must not imagine that the Church was abolishing the obligation to do penance; on the contrary she continually invited the faithful to strict mortification by the solemn liturgy. So those of you who cannot undertake the fast must remember that they must be doubly assiduous in Zeal at their duties, pray with more fervor, and practice greater charity and obedience. Do not let these days of grace go by fruitlessly.
Lent is a favorable time for everyone. It is good for souls who want to master their evil inclinations; good for those who long to plunge into the joys of the interior life, and it is favorable to all of us who want to undertake works of zeal to lead souls to God. In fact, how could one imagine that our Lord would be deaf to the entreaties of his beloved spouses, when he sees them kneeling humbly between the vestibule and the altar, offering themselves for sinners and forgetting themselves by seeking his glory in everything? Do not let these days of mercy and grace go by fruitlessly: we must remember it is a time of salvation and know how to draw profit from it.
You will say that I am forever speaking of the need for silence. It's quite true. You see, time is so precious that those who waste a single moment in useless words do themselves and others great harm without realizing it. The practice of silence will help us powerfully to those ends our zeal would attain. In silence we hear the mysterious demands of Divine Providence. By silence we shall reach the holiness so essential for each of us to contribute usefully to our works...