“Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian
O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me a spirit of idleness, curiosity, love of power and idle talk.
But grant to me Your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love.
Yes, Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults, and to not judge my brother,
For You are blessed to ages of ages. Amen.
Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
GN 2:7-9; 3:1-7
The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.1
CCC 362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”2 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.
CCC 369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.3 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.
CCC 378 The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.4 There he lives “to till it and keep it”. Work is not yet a burden,5 but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.
CCC 703 The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature:6
It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son. .. Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves creation in the Father through the Son.7
CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,8 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.9 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,10 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.11
1 Cf. Gen 1-26.
2 Gen 2:7.
3 Cf. Gen 2:7, 22.
4 Cf. Gen 2:8.
5 Gen 2:15; cf. 3:17-19
6 Cf. Pss 33:6; 104:30; Gen 1:2; 2:7; Eccl 3:20-21; Ezek 37:10.
7 Byzantine liturgy, Sundays of the second mode, Troparion of Morning Prayer.
8 Cf. Gen 3.
9 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.
10 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.
11 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.
In recent years theologians have been discussing and arguing about the nature of what is called “Original sin,” and how it is transmitted from generation to generation. The patent fact is that sin abounds, and has abounded in our world from the earliest days of man on earth. The reason why the Church recalls to our minds today the basic facts that God, out of sheer goodness, created man and gave him marvelous gifts, and man in his meanness and foolish pride refused obedience and loyalty to his divine benefactor, is simply to remind us that we are all sinners and descendants of sinners.
While theologians may, and should, try to discover the real nature of original sin and its mode of transmission, the fact that we men of today, centuries and millennia later, are still sinners, still proud, still so often disloyal and ungrateful to the good God, who made us what we are, is and should be our chief preoccupation during this season of Lent.
While we have every reason to regret that our first parents acted so foolishly and so ungratefully, the fact that we ourselves, with far more knowledge of God’s goodness to mankind can and do act even more foolishly and more ungratefully every time we disobey God, should be a greater cause for shame and regret to each one of us.
We know that God, sent his Son on earth in human nature, in order to earn for us a share in God’s own divine happiness. And God did this, even though the human race had proved itself so unworthy of this divine favor. His divine Son had to suffer, not only the humiliation of taking on himself the nature of a mere creature–our human nature but he had to suffer insults and injuries in that human nature, which reached their climax in his crucifixion on Calvary.
That God would deign to share his heaven with the saintly and the good who had never offended him, even though they were mere creatures would be an act of divine love indeed, but that he should want to grant eternal happiness to sinners, at the cost of the torments and sufferings of his beloved Son, is surely a mystery of love beyond our human comprehension. Yet, this is one of the basic truths of our Christian faith. What sinner–and we are all sinners could dare to hope that God would forgive his sins, what right could he have, after his own mean behavior toward the God who gave him everything he has, to expect any pardon? But one sincere look at a crucifix should be enough to dispel any thought of despair or despondency.
Christ took on himself the sins of the world. He nailed them to the cross, in order to open the door to heaven for all men. Through his Incarnation he raised us up to the status of adopted sons of God; through his sufferings and crucifixion he made atonement to his Father for the sins of all men, thus removing the impediment that could prevent us from reaching the reward of sonship, membership in the eternal kingdom of God.
But even God cannot remove our sins unless we do our part; Christ’s sufferings and death for us will be in vain, unless we cooperate. This is just what Lent means for us. It is a period of penance and repentance. We regret the many disobediences and disloyalties we have shown to God up to now, and we try to make some personal atonement for them, by some special acts of mortification and devotion during this holy season.
We want to go to heaven when our life here ends. God wants us in heaven and has proved this beyond a shadow of doubt. Satan–the serpent mentioned in today’s reading–does not want us to go there. He deceived our first parents; could we possibly be so foolish as to let him deceive us too?
Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—
for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,
though sin is not accounted when there is no law.
But death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even over those who did not sin
after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,
who is the type of the one who was to come.
But the gift is not like the transgression.
For if by the transgression of the one, the many died,
how much more did the grace of God
and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow for the many.
And the gift is not like the result of the one who sinned.
For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation;
but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.
For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act,
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one,
the many will be made righteous.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.
CCC 397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of.3 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.4 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.5 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.6 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,7 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.8
CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”9 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”10
CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.11 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.12
CCC 532 Jesus’ obedience to his mother and legal father fulfils the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: “Not my will. ..”13 The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed.14
CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”15 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.16 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”17
CCC 605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”18 He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.19 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”20
CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,21 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”22 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.23 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.24 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”25
CCC 615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”26 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.27 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.28
CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.29 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.30 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.31
CCC 1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father’s will.32 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.33
1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.
2 Jn 16:8.
3 Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19.
4 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.
5 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.
6 Rom 8:21.
7 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.
8 Cf. Rom 5:12.
9 Rom 5:12,19.
10 Rom 5:18.
11 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.
12 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
13 Lk 22:42.
14 Cf. Rom 5:19.
15 I Pt 1:18-20.
16 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.
17 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.
18 Mt 18:14.
19 Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19.
20 Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; I Jn 2:2.
21 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
22 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
23 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
24 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
25 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.
26 Rom 5:19.
27 Is 53:10-12.
28 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
29 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.
30 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.
31 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.
32 Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8.
33 Cf. Rom 5:19-21.
The message that should come over “loud and clear, to each one of us today, from these words of St. Paul, is that we are dealing with a God of infinite mercy, and infinite love. He created man and gave him gifts which raised him above all other earthly creatures. Through these gifts, man was able to recognize that he was a mere creature, that he owed all he was and had to a generous Creator, and that therefore he was in duty bound to respect and reverence his benefactor (see Rom. 1: 19-23). But man, moved by pride in the higher gifts he possessed, which were not his own, turned his back on God and refused to revere and obey him. Man sinned and thereby excluded himself from the eternal reward God had planned for him.
What human benefactor would stand for such ingratitude, and would not turn his back on such an ungrateful creature for evermore? But God is infinite in mercy and in love; he is not a human, limited being. He would still carry out his plan to make men his adopted sons, and thus give them a share in his eternal inheritance. The Incarnation as planned from the beginning would still take place. The Son of God would take our human nature, would come down to our level, so that we could share in his divine nature, and be raised up to son ship with God. The Incarnation–this almost incredible act of God’s infinite love for us–was not a “second thought” on God’s part when man sinned, but was willed by God from all eternity as a means of uniting all men with himself and with each other.
The sins of the generations that preceded Christ’s coming were therefore, in comparison, but tiny shadows which brought out all the more strongly the brilliance of divine love as seen in the Incarnation. The effects of the Incarnation were retroactive–sinners who repented before the Incarnation took place, became heirs of heaven, as will also all repentant sinners who have lived and died since Christ came on earth. Learning the lesson Paul teaches us today, let us thank God for his infinite mercy and love, as proved by his making us brothers of Christ and co-heirs with Christ to heaven. Let us also beg pardon with heartfelt contrition for the many, times we have forgotten his goodness to us, and in our pride have followed our own will rather than his. He will forgive and forget our sins if we sincerely seek his pardon. He has prepared heaven for us and wants us there; let us all use this holy season of Lent to help us to get there.
PS 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5
CCC 394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning”, who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.6 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”7 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
CCC 2084 God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: “I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him. .. You shall not go after other gods.”8 God’s first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.
CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”9 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”10 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.11
CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.12 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”13 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.14 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”15
1 Heb 1:6.
2 Lk 2:14.
3 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
4 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
5 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church
6 Jn 8:44; cf. Mt 4:1-11.
7 1 Jn 3:8.
8 Deut 6:13-14.
9 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.
10 Am 8:11.
11 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.
12 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.
13 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.
14 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.
15 Rev 16:15.
This incident in our Lord’s life, his forty days and nights of fasting followed by temptations, has been chosen as a reading for this first Sunday of Lent for our edification and encouragement. Lent is a period of preparation for the central Christian events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christ, the Son of God in human nature, died the excruciating death of crucifixion on Good Friday, because of the sins of the human race. By this supreme act of obedience to his heavenly Father he made atonement for all our disobediences, and set us free from the slavery of Satan and of sin. In his resurrection his human nature was glorified by God the Father, and in that glorification we are all offered a share and given the right to an eternal life of glory, if we follow Christ faithfully in this life.
For every sincere Christian therefore, who appreciates what Good Friday and Easter Sunday mean for her or him, this period of preparation should be a welcome opportunity. The Church no longer imposes on us any obligatory daily fasting from food, but it urges us to find other means of mortifying ourselves, so as to show that we realize what Christ has done for us and what he has earned for us through his passion, death and resurrection. The example of Christ fasting from food for forty days, should move even the coldest Christian heart to try to do something to make reparation for past negligence and sins. Christ had no sin to atone for; it was for our sins that he mortified himself. We all have much to atone for. If, because of the demands of our present way of life, we cannot fast rigorously as our grandparents did, we can find many other less noticeable, but maybe nonetheless difficult, ways of subduing our human worldly inclinations. Where there is a will there is a way; the willing Christian will find ready substitutes for fasting.
The temptations, to which our Lord allowed himself to be submitted, are for us a source of encouragement and consolation. If our Lord and master under went temptation, we cannot and must not expect to live a Christian life without experiencing similar tests and trials. The three temptations Satan put to our Lord were suggestions to forget his purpose in life–his messianic mission of redemption. He was urged to get all the bodily comforts of life, all the self-glory which men could give him, and all the possessions and power this world has to offer.
Our basic temptations in life are the same: bodily comforts and pleasure, the empty esteem of our fellowman, wealth and power. There are millions of men and women on earth today–many of them nominal Christians–who have given in to these temptations and, are wasting their lives chasing after these unattainable shadows. But even should they manage to catch up with some of them, they soon find out that they are empty baubles. They will have to leave them so very soon.
Today, let each one of us look into his heart and honestly examine his reaction to these temptations. Do we imitate our Savior and leader, and say “begone Satan”? Our purpose in life is not to collect its treasures, its honors or its pleasures. We are here for a few short years, to merit the unending life which Christ has won for us. Would we be so foolish as to swap our inheritance for a mere mess of pottage (see Gen. 25:29-34)?
Lent is a golden opportunity to review our past and make sensible resolutions for our future.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.
The Purpose of Lent
The purpose of Lent is to keep alive in our consciousness and our life the fact that being a Christian can only take the form of becoming a Christian ever anew; that it is not an event now over and done with but a process requiring constant practice. Let us ask, then: What does it mean to become a Christian? How does this take place?… If individuals are to become Christians they need the strength to overcome; they need the power to stand fast against the natural tendency to let themselves be carried along. Life in the most inclusive sense has been defined as “resistance to the pull of gravity.” Only where such effort is expended is there life; where the efforts ceases life too ceases. IF this is true in the biological sphere, it is all the more true in the spiritual. The human person is the being which does not become itself automatically. Nor does it do so simply by letting itself be carried along and surrendering to the natural gravitational pull of a kind of vegetative life. It becomes itself always and only by struggling against the tendency simply to vegetate and by dint of a discipline that is able to rise above the pressures of routine and to liberate the self from the compulsions of utilitarian goals and instincts. Our world is so full of what immediately impinges on our senses that we are in danger of seeing only details and losing sight of the whole. It takes effort to see beyond what is right in front of us and to free ourselves from the tyranny of what directly presses upon us.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Lord Jesus, you spoke peace to a sinful world and brought mankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death you endured. I love you and joyfully bear the name ‘Christian.’ Teach me to follow your example. Increase my faith, hope and charity so that I may struggle to turn hatred to love and conflict to peace. Amen.