I advise you first to stay in your lodgings close to your church of the Holy Virgin Mary. You should have only one servant with you. After you have subtracted the necessary expenses from your income, you should return whatever is left over to your creditors and repay your debts in full. It is not right or reasonable to give a lot of money to the poor or to wealthy friends and relatives until all your debts have been resolved. Once you have completely resolved your debts, then - after subtracting the expenses for you and your servant - distribute everything that is left over to the poor and needy.
You should have good and serviceable clerical attire, taking good care of it so no vanity or ostentation can be noted in the quality of the cloth or the style of your clothes beyond honest necessity and physical usefulness. Be content with only two sets of clothes - one for feast days and one for ordinary days - and no more than two sets of shoes and stockings. Convert any superfluous clothes that you have to other uses or use them to payoff your debts. This year, give up linen garments altogether both at nighttime and during the day.
This year, consider your church, St. Mary's, as a cloistered church for the following three reasons.
First because, if perhaps you ever remained there before for any proud motive, so in the future you should reside there out of divine obedience in honor of the most humble Virgin Mary. And if perhaps the canons and those holding benefices at this church ever led you with shameful words away from the service of God and toward evil desire, you should now try with God's help and by using divine and spiritual words to lead people away from evil desire and toward the delightful love for God. If perhaps you ever before set a bad example to anyone who saw you behaving yourself in an unpermissible fashion, you should now take care to present a profitable and virtuous example to their souls through your good deeds and upright behavior.
Next, my dear friend, you must plan your daytime and nighttime wisely and efficiently for the glory of God. I have indeed noticed that your church bells ring accurately at the appointed hours. As soon as you hear them at night, then, I advise you to get up immediately from your place and recall the five wounds of Jesus Christ and the sorrows of His most worthy Mother with five genuflections and five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys.
Afterward you should begin the matins of the Blessed Virgin and say other prayers that you like until the canons gather in the choir for chant. It is better that you come to the church among the first rather than the last. You should sing the matins of the season devoutly, standing properly until the end and sitting whenever it is correct to do so, but not speaking at all unless you are asked something, and then only answering with a few quiet words and no sign of anger or impatience if you can avoid it.
You would conduct yourself with proper order if you were in the presence of some temporal or earthly lord. Likewise, with all the more propriety and modesty and humble reverence, both inward and outward, you should stand in the presence and service of the eternal King of heaven who is always and everywhere present and sees everything.
If you happen to be compelled by some necessity to speak about important matters touching you or someone else during these half-hours, go out of the choir and give your opinion in few words without raising your voice while outside it and then return to your place there without delay.
If possible, arrange to have the matter dealt with at another place and time in order not to diminish or impede the divine worship and the glory given to God. Take care not to wander about the church as though you are taking a walk, promenading hither and thither, while the hours are being sung. Such behavior belongs to an unstable and wandering mind and a lukewarm spirit with little love and devotion.
In the intervening time, that is, between the singing of the hours, devote yourself to prayer or read something devout or useful for your mind or beneficial for others, making constantly sure, from the hour in which you get up out of your bed for matins until high mass has been finished, that you do not become voluntarily involved in anything but chant, reading, prayer, or study, unless it happens that you must discuss or deal with certain matters in your chapter concerning the affairs of the church, either with improvements or organization.
Once High Mass has been celebrated, it is quite suitable to speak and converse about the needs and comfort of the body or good and virtuous recreations.
When you go to table, you should say grace. Whether you are someone else's guest or have guests yourself, speak first of God or His most worthy Mother or some saint during the meal for the edification and benefit of your table companions as well as those serving the food - at least a word or two or even ask the others something relating to God or His Mother or God's saints. Do likewise even when you are alone at table and your servant is attending you, and let some such reading be made of the kind customary among brothers dining together in a monastery.
Once you are done eating and have given thanks to God and to your benefactors, speak a short while with whatever upright individuals you please. about any matters or business concerning yourself.
Afterward, go directly to your chamber, genuflect five times and say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in remembrance of the wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ and the sorrows of His Mother.
Use half of the time remaining until vespers for studying or reading and some form of rest, unless you are hindered by your friends due to matters concerning them. Use the other half of the same time period to take a walk for the proper relaxation of your body, so that you become stronger for the glory of God.
When it rings for vespers, enter directly into the choir of the church to chant the office in the manner described above. Once the complines have been said, pray the vigils each day for the dead along with the three readings before supper.
After supper, carry out the same practices as mentioned above after lunch. After you have said grace, take a walk and spend the time having a profitable and pleasant conversation until you feel like going to bed.
Even then, before going to sleep, place yourself in front of your bed and there pray devoutly five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ. After that, get into your bed and give your body enough sleep and rest that you are not overcome by sleepiness during times of vigil due to too little sleep and rest.
Every Friday pray the seven psalms and the litany with devotion, and on that day give five silver coins to five poor and needy persons in veneration of the five wounds of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, my dear brother and friend, I advise you to keep abstinence in the following way this year in penance for your sins. Every day throughout Lent and likewise during Advent, your fast should consist of only one meal of fish.
On the eves of the feast days of Holy Mary, eat a meal of bread and water; on the eves of the feast days of the apostles, a meal of fish. Each Wednesday, let it be one meal of cheese, eggs, and fish. Each Friday, let it be a meal only of bread and wine - and if you prefer to have water rather than wine, I will not dissuade you - and each Saturday, eat fish and oil for your one midday meal. On Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, eat two meals of meat, provided the Church has not prescribed fasting.
Please observe, dear brother, that I have decided to give you this advice and write all this to you for three reasons. First of all, in order that the envy and cunning of the devil may not induce you to wear yourself out so quickly that your strength and wits soon begin to weaken and make your whole life become of less service to God than it should be.
Second, if worldly people notice any failure of wit or strength in you due to overwork, or if they see you growing weary in the work you have undertaken, then they may take fright and shrink from subjecting themselves to God's work.
Third, because I trust that your work will be more pleasing to God the more you submit yourself humbly to the advice of another than govern yourself according to your own personal judgment.