Into The Desert With Jesus

We begin again our Lenten journey. Marked with ashes, our pilgrimage begins, as we enter the desert with Jesus to fast and pray.

St. Mark’s gospel reading this Sunday leaves out many of the details of Jesus’ sojourn into the desert. Mark is a man of few words, but we certainly understand, from this short presentation, that Jesus was driven into the desert by the Spirit and endured temptation by Satan during his forty days there. We can learn much about overcoming temptation, by following Jesus through these days of Lenten journey.

Lent is about discipline. This is a term that typically evokes a negative connotation. Some of us might equate discipline with punishment. We may recall being “disciplined” by parents or teachers—in some cases, maybe harshly. The discipline of Lent is not intended to be a punishment but a “training” for Eternal Life. During this beautiful season of grace, we are called to step up our acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Fasting
Jesus endured forty days in the desert without nourishment. Most of us can’t imagine going even a few hours without something to eat or drink (I know I can’t). Our required Lenten fasts are very modest compared to what our Lord endured during his stay in the desert. The practice of giving up something for Lent is a way of saying “no” to things of this world, so we can say “yes” more deliberately to God. As I write this article, I am happily sipping a diet soda, one of the things on my “give it up for God” list! I know that I will miss my favorite beverage, but I also know that in giving it up, I am tempering my passion for food and drink.

Fasting helps us tame our appetites for worldly things. In addition to giving up certain foods, we might also consider fasting from our use of electronic media, fasting from gossip and criticism or fasting from other favorite activities. As we fast from something that we typically enjoy, it is helpful for us to remember why we are fasting. These little acts of giving up something help us to be grateful for all that we have and to learn to discipline our wills.

I want to offer a caution to be kind to yourself if you slip occasionally with your Lenten practices. It is easy to just give up when we are tempted toward something that we have chosen to give up for Lent. If you slip, simply renew your resolution and begin again!

Feasting
There is so much grace in this season of preparation for the Lord’s resurrection, if we choose to receive it. Lent is a time to step up our prayer. If you are accustomed to praying for 15 minutes, consider doubling that time during the Lenten season. Many of us find that we simply don’t have time to pray or engage in spiritual practices in our busy lives. By fasting from some of the activities we normally do, we will gain extra time that can be spent in prayer. We can also feast on spiritual reading, during the Lenten season. Our resource area is filled with wonderful books that will fill your soul and provide fruit for meditation during this season. Lent is a time for diving into scripture. Take your Bible with you to work, to school or on the bus. Spend a few minutes reading the Gospel stories or praying the Psalms.

One very beautiful way of feasting during this Lenten season is to feast on the face of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. Our chapel is open throughout the day and night, and Jesus is waiting for you. Of all the things we can do during this season, face time with Jesus in adoration is among the most beautiful. Jesus is always waiting for us, ready to spend time with us and to renew us. If you are already a regular adorer, consider making an extra visit each week during the Lenten season. If you have not yet visited our Lord in the adoration chapel, this is a wonderful time to experience his Holy Presence.

So let’s begin this journey together. Our Lord walks with us through this time of seeking a deeper relationship with Him through our Lenten practices. God wants to give each of us something beautiful this Lenten season. Let us open our hearts as we give Him our special offerings and allow Him to heal us and restore us.

Wishing you a blessed Lenten journey.

Deacon Tim

 

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