If your Lenten journey doesn’t last the year through, I think it is a waste.
Saint Peter Chrysologus (c.406-450), Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church
Sermon 8 ; CCL 24, 59 ; PL 52, 208
Exercises for Lent: almsgiving, prayer, fasting
My dear brethren, today we set out on the great Lenten journey. So let us take our food and drink along in our boat, putting onto the chest the abundant mercy we shall need. For our fasting is a hungry one, our fasting is a thirsty one if it isn’t sustained by goodness and refreshed by mercy. Our fasting will be cold, our fasting will flag if the fleece of almsgiving doesn’t clothe it, if the garment of compassion does not wrap it around.
Brethren, what spring is for the land, mercy is for fasting: the soft, spring winds cause all the buds on the plains to flower; the mercy of our fast causes all our seeds to grow until they blossom and bear fruit for the heavenly harvest. What oil is to the lamp, goodness is to our fast. As the oily fat sets the lamp alight and, in spite of so little to feed it, keeps it burning to our comfort all night long, so goodness makes our fasting shine: it casts its beams until it reaches the full brightness of self-restraint. What the sun is to the day, almsgiving is to our fast: the sun’s splendor increases the light of day, breaking through the dullness of the clouds; almsgiving together with fasting sanctifies its holiness and, thanks to the light of goodness, dispels from our desires anything that could petrify. In short, what the body is for the soul, generosity acts similarly for the fast: when the soul leaves the body it brings about death; if generosity abandons the fast, it is its death.