40 ACTS OF REPENTANCE WITH PRIESTS - DAY 11
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.
Devil saw Him and got confused. “Who is this man?” he wonders, “He is alone by Himself in the desert, not eating or drinking for ten days and the man hasn’t died yet?! What’s going on?”
Jesus confused Devil so much that it piques his curiosity. He wants to know why. Like a serpent he lays still in the dark waiting and observing every move Jesus makes. “What is He doing?” the Devil keeps asking, “How does he manage to survive?”
In the desert you have to deal with two harsh realities: the lack of water and the extreme temperature. To survive you must conserve water and temperature in your body. Losing bodily fluid and heat means certain death.
How do the serpents, the scorpions, the lizards, the spiders, foxes and the cactus manage to survive in the desert? They learn to conserve their energy. They are all hyper-conscious of their surroundings. Every other living or moving creature could be a potential source of water and food for you; and you for them as well. Any moment anywhere could be your last. You do not know when or where they will attack you and consume you. You must stay hyper-alert at all time.
The enemies from the outside surrounding play a major role in enhancing and heightening your sense of alertness, but the enemies from within you pose even a greater threat. Besides the hunger and thirst attacking your body, the constant questioning of the mind keeps barking at you: “Why? Why do you have to do this? Why do you have to treat your body so harshly? Why do you have to fast? Don’t you know you could die?” It was not only the Devil who preys on you, but your mind and body have turned against you. They have become your worst enemies.
“Lord Jesus, how did you survive the desert?” Listen to what He says: “I tell you, ask and you will receive” (Luke 11:1). Simply, ask God the Father for help. But what kind of help will keep you alive in the desert? What is the one and only necessary thing you must ask for?
Listen again to what Jesus is saying to you: “I tell you, ask and you will receive…. How much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:1,13). Ask for the Holy Spirit. He is the only true source of life. There is no way anyone could survive anywhere without the Holy Spirit.
Take a deep breath…. Let us pray for priests to know and love the Holy Spirit.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help all your priests know and love the Holy Spirit as you do.