40 ACTS OF REPENTANCE WITH PRIESTS - DAY 8
Lent is here. It begins with our Lord Jesus Christ submitting himself under the prophetic call to repentance from his cousin, John, the Baptist, and allowing himself to be submerged in the water of the Jordan river for the ritual baptism, a commitment to convert and render his life to God.
We see the heavens opening up, the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove; and we hear the gentle voice of God, the Father, declaring: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
God the Father loves Jesus and declares to all creation of His love for His only-begotten Son. In so doing God the Father also declares His love for you. God loves you and He loves you first; that’s why He sent Jesus to you. So “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Love is the motif and the motivation for all that Jesus does for us. He loves God, the Father, and thus enters into this world to live, suffer and die for us. He reveals to us not only through His stories and examples, but also by His life and death, the love of God the Father reserved for us from all eternity.
The very first act of love Jesus wants to show us is fasting. He enters into the desert with the Holy Spirit for forty days and forty nights to confront His own human weaknesses and the Devil. He endures hunger and thirst, the lonely life in the howling desert and the assaults of the Devil. He fasts, He prays and He trusts in the Word of His Father. This is to show us how to repent and render to God what belongs to Him.
Following Jesus’ footsteps we are called to embark in this pilgrimage of forty days of Lent. With Jesus we listen to the loving voice of God, the Father; we do penance and deny ourselves. The following meditations are 40 straight-forward acts of repentance to help you look back and re-examine your own life with Jesus.
Let us take this pilgrimage of repentance to pray for our Catholic Church, especially for our priests.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Walk with us on this pilgrimage.
Let us pray.
Grant us, O Lord, to begin our Christian warfare with holy fasts; that as we are about to do battle with the spirits of evil we may be defended by the aid of self-denial and the protecting gaze of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yesterday, you heard what Jesus said to you: “perform righteous deeds” and the first one is pray.
In the Garden of Gethsemane (in Aramaic ܓܕܣܡܢGaḏ-Šmānê, meaning “oil press”), Jesus complains with Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
Listen once again to what Jesus is telling Peter: “Watch and pray….” The condition for praying is watching. You cannot pray without being watchful. Watchfulness is the interior atmosphere and personal ambiance for prayer. Without watchfulness you will get drowsy and drift into sleep. The question is what do you need to do in order to be watchful and not to fall asleep when you pray?
Here’s what to do. Whenever you pray, place yourself in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus and do the following:
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is with me and present to me.” Breathe out….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is in pain; He is sweating blood for me.”….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is being attacked by the Devil.”….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is terrified because of my sins.”….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is suffering for me.”….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Jesus is true: the Devil is attacking me too.”….
Take a deep breath…, say to your heart, “Lord Jesus, my flesh is weak; save me.”….
You can do all seven watchful prayers above in one sitting. Or you could choose one and repeat it as many times as possible. Remember to breathe….
More importantly, know who your enemies are. Know that they are doing everything to pull you into hell. What are they? Your own flesh, the profane world around you and the Devil.
The flesh is weak; it always demands rest and pleasure.
The world is deceptive; it offers you only empty promises.
The Devil is arrogant; it wants you to be self-focused and to think of yourself first, at all time.
What you need is God’s consciousness. Beg the Holy Spirit to destroy your egocentric attitude and make you conscious of Christ’s presence.
Take a deep breath…. Let us pray for all priests to be Christ-conscious and always watchful in prayer.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Make your priest always Christ-conscious and ever watchful in prayer.