ON THE ENDS OF THE INSTITUTION OF LENT
Consider first, that besides the great business of doing penance for the sins of the year, and of our whole lives, which is the main design of Lent, it is also instituted to be, in a particular manner, a time of devotion, in which we may worthily commemorate the sufferings and death of our Redeemer, and make them the subject of our daily meditation; in which also we may, by more than ordinary recollection and prayer, dispose our souls for duly celebrating the great Paschal solemnity, and imitating therein the resurrection of the Son of God, and in which we may in such manner cleanse and purify our souls by spiritual exercises as to be fit to approach worthily (as the Church commands us) to the divine mysteries at Easter. See, my soul, thou keep Lent in such a manner as to answer these ends.
Consider 2ndly, that Lent is a time which God particularly claims for himself as being the tithe of the year, which therefore ought to be set aside for him; and in the law he appointed that the tithes of all things should be sanctified to him, Levit. xxvii. And surely nothing could be more just than that we should offer our tithes at least to him that gives us all. How justly then, does he require of us the tithes of our years, by our dedicating these forty days, in a special manner, to his service? How religiously, then, and how holily, ought we to spend this time of Lent, that our performances may answer the great design of consecrating the tithe of the year to the divine service? An offering made to God ought to be without blemish: let our Lent offering be such.
Consider 3rdly, that the time of Lent ought to be for people that live in the world what a spiritual retreat is for regular communities; that is, a time in which, retiring as much as can be from the noise and distractions of the world, they may enter into themselves, and take a serious view of the whole state of their interior. Now is the time for them to see and examine how the soul stands affected, with relation to her God, to her neighbours, and to herself; how she acquits herself of all her duties, as well those incumbent on all Christians as those that are proper to her respective calling, or those relative to those under her charge. Now is the time to search diligently after such secret sins as are apt to lie lurking in the soul, disguised by some pretext of good, or wrapt up under the folds of self-love. In a word, now is the time to acquire a true knowledge of ourselves, in order to apply a proper remedy to all our evils, and to lay a solid foundation of a good life for the future.
Conclude to answer, in the best manner thou art able, all these ends of the institution of Lent, and particularly apply thyself at this time to take as it were in pieces the whole method of thy life, and to reform all that thou findest amiss.