The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 49
I think most would read our Father Benedict's talk of the "joy of the Holy Spirit" with regard to Lenten abstinence as deluded or darkly humorous. We have a hard time imagining how "the joy of spiritual desire" can in any way be enhanced by physical denial. But in the Christian tradition, Lent is not punishment. It is preparation for New Life in the Easter experience. For the heart that truly desires this New Life, then, the Lenten practices, painful as they may be in the short term, can produce the profound joy of the Spirit who brings about New Life in us.
We are now in the final days of our preparations, when our resolve to wait for the revealing of God's New Life may feel weak, but it is now that Lent completes its formative work in us. May we, in this liminal time of Holy Week, continue on our chosen Lenten path and journey with Jesus toward the cross and tomb where New Life is born.