“Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. . . . Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, gather together the people, sanctify the Church” (Joel ii).
May this Holy Season of Lent bring about for you a time of true and salutary penance; may it lead you to forsake the false joys of earth and to be converted to God with all your heart; may your fasting take the place of feasting, your weeping take the place of mirth, and your mourning the place of joy; may your abstinence lead to a great expiation for sin and be practiced in obedience to the spirit of the general law of the Church.
May you follow not only the example of the penitent Ninevites, who, by a penitential fast, averted the destruction with which God had threatened them, but follow also that example of the Innocent Lamb of God, Who, prior to His Mission among men, was pleased to undergo a rigorous fast of forty days and forty nights in the wilderness.
May the holy fast be to you a spiritual springtide; may you polish your spiritual armor, may you breast the waves of evil passions, may you set out like a traveler on his journey heavenwards, and may you prepare like an athlete for the combat.
May you enter on the road which leads to heaven, the rugged and narrow road, and travel along it by buffeting the body and bringing it into subjection.
May your penance consist not merely in mortification of the body, but also in that of the soul, for sin is committed by the will, and therefore it is just that the will, as well as the body, should make atonement.
May you repress the waves of foolish passions and repulse the storm of wicked imaginations, so that your deeds may yield good and fruitful results. If you see a poor man have pity on him, if you see an enemy be reconciled, if you see a friend in good reputation, regard him without envy.
May you fast not only by your mouth by forbidding it to utter tales of slander, but also with your eyes by averting them from unlawful sights, and with your hands by restraining them from deeds of violence, and with your feet by not entering places of pernicious amusements, and with your ears by stopping them from listening to gossip and detraction.