In everything Our Lord does He is teaching us something. His truth is without ambiguity and in the clear light of His divinity all error is exposed.
God does not need Lent but we do! So when the Holy Spirit drove Our Lord into the wilderness for forty days to do battle with the Deceiver He was showing us and teaching us the perfection of His Fathers love. In the wilderness the All Good, Perfect, Holy and Innocent one as Holy Trinity confronts the unholy trinity of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Now God has given us all good things to enjoy and these things give us happiness which is appropriate to our human life. Without humility we cannot take wings and fly above our pride. We are called to trust the Lord and ask Him for the strength to resist temptation before it becomes sin. It is not temptation itself that leads to sin but our lukewarm surrender. Do we have a real genuine desire to do only Gods will? The will to do the good is strengthened by forming good habits of virtue.
The devil is an opportunist. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses and tempt us to despair. Watchfulness rooted and grounded in prayer helps to overcome and avoid temptation. If we cease to pray, we cease to watch and the devil knowing this suggests to the tempted soul that it is unworthy to approach God by reason of sin. Sometimes it is a real struggle but we should never despair. By careful self-examination discover your weak spots and concentrate your energy in building the virtue which is lacking or weak.
What are you doing with your life?
Do you give yourself time to ask and ponder that question, for it is a question that one day we must answer. So instead of putting off the moment let us begin to acquire the habit of self reflection so that we deepen our awareness of ourselves and our relationship to the Lord.
All the time we have is NOW. The mental effects and impressions of the past give to our present perceptions a distorted reality for the memory is always playing tricks with us.
Especially when past sins carry with them an emotional attachment. This is how the devil seeks to drag us down into despair. Being aware of this, the true soldier of Christ arms himself in the present moment, especially by keeping a watch over his senses. To avoid anything unhealthy that may pollute the mind and open up an attachment which is a form of demonic oppression.
At the start of each day offer yourself to God and at its end commend your soul into His safe keeping. Tomorrow may be your last day upon this earth and so try to live as if it were.
Be free from Mortal sin by going to Confession immediately. Be clear as to the purpose and reason of whatever you are doing otherwise your energy will not have a positive effect.
Your mind will be clouded and you will not see the way clearly by the light of Christ.
Lord Jesus help me and guide me
To see your love for me.
Keep me strong to do your will,
And protect me from the evil one.
Let me give myself to you in freedom
Trusting in your faithfulness.
Help me to give you everything
So that your glory will shine
Through my weakness
Keeping me safe
In your most Sacred Heart.
The parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-23 provided the Fathers of the Church, and provide us with a Lenten reflection to help us deepen our Faith.
A journey that begins with an honest acknowledgement of sin and ends in reconciliation. In the parable we see three points on the journey: Conversion, Contrition and Reconciliation. God our Father opens his arms to urge us forward despite our frequent turning aside. St John Chrysostom says, "The younger son set out into a distant country, not locally departing from God, who is everywhere, but in his heart. For the sinner flees from God that he may stand afar off". St Augustine sees the distant country into which the sinners departs as forgetfulness of God in turning aside from his loving Father each person, as St Ambrose says, "severs himself from Christ" and "is an exile from his country and a citizen of this world. Fitly then does he waste his patrimony who departs from the Church". Every time our conscience is reawakened a new conversion begins. We come to our senses or as the parable puts it, "he came to himself" (V17). St Augustine says, "he brought back his mind to the inward recesses of his conscience".
From this awakening comes true contrition. As the son in the parable says, "I will go to my father and say, "Father I have sinned against heaven and before you" (V18). In this renewed declaration all pretence and dishonesty is done away. It is only when this happens that a true meeting between father and son can take place. Each time a sinner returns to God as Tertullian says he "receives back his former vesture, that state, I mean which Adam lost by his former vesture "transgression". In the moment of conversion the sinner knows he is reconciled by the Fathers love and that he is part of the mystical body which unites him in faith and love to the family of the Church. He says "I will go to my father" (V18a) that is he "is established in the Church by Faith, where there may yet be a lawful and effectual confession of sins".
Through confession we are restored to the father and receive back what we have lost. In the parable the prodigal son is given a ring and a cloak by his father as a sign of his restoration. Ambrose calls the cloak, the cloak of the Holy Spirit and the ring the seal of faith. Now that the reconciled sinner has received from his father the signs of his pledge to new life, he is taken in to the feast which has been prepared for him. A fatted calf is killed for his return. For St Chrysostom and St Augustine and others the fatted calf refers to Christ himself and is of great importance in the argument from Tradition for the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. "But the father did not himself sacrifice the gift, but gives it to be sacrificed to others. For the father permitting the son consenting thereto by man was sacrificed to others".
There is great rejoicing (V23) because "the food of the father is our salvation; the joy of the father, the redemption of our sins". This feast is none other than the Eucharist. "Those banquets are now celebrated, the Church being enlarged and extended throughout the whole world. For the calf in our Lords Body and Blood is both offered up to the father, and feeds the whole house".
To share the banquet of the Lord presumes a serious striving after a holy life and it is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we are given the grace to do so.
St Ambrose 337-397
St Augustine 354-430
St Chrysostom c349-407
(footnotes available on request)
Confession and Holy Communion go together. If we deepened our awareness of the great gift we receive from Our Lord who gives us His Body, the living bread, we would prepare ourselves. This preparation means that in prayer we examine our conscience in order to be reconciled and at peace with Him who is perfect love. We should then come to the Sacrament of Confession often because as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, my personal sin affects the whole body. St Paul said to the Corinthians "Let a man examine himself" (2:28). Paul in addressing the Corinthians warns against a superstitious regard for the Eucharist in which some believed that their participation in the Eucharist assured them against any possible forfeit of future salvation and so it did not matter how they lived their lives. They might commit idolatry (10:7) and fornication (v8) they might tempt God (v9) and complain against Him (v10), without fear because they were baptised and received the Eucharist. The punishments of the children of Israel who put God to the test will be their lot if they escape from the continuous and renewed act of faith and obedience that every person must make each time he receives the Body of the Lord. The Eucharist, the Holy Mass, does not save a man but makes possible salvation. The abuse of the Sacraments will bring upon the Corinthians the destruction of Satan (10:10).
Behind 1 Corinthians 11:27 Paul makes an important link again between the divisions of the community as being an abuse of the Eucharist. Eating without discerning the Body of Christ, the living Lord, who is truly present. To realise Christ's presence every person must prepare themselves suitably and approach with the right dispositions (cf.2 Cor 13:5). Of this St John Chrysostom (c349-407) says, "Not discerning the Lords Body, that is not searching, not bearing in mind, as he ought, the greatness of the things before him, not estimating the value of the gift. For if you should come to know who it is before you, and who He is who gives Himself, and to whom, you will need no other argument, but this is enough for you to use all vigilance" (Patrologia Graecia, vol 61,p223)