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.
Dawn is here. You could smell it. It’s in the air announcing the coming of the sun. You are wide awake and witnessing it.
A miracle is happening in front of your own eyes. Darkness is receding. It trembles in fear before the fiery orb appearing in the sky. Dews begin to fall like teardrops. “Darkness,” you ask, “are you crying?” But before these drops of dark tears hit the sandy soil, they all evaporate into thin air. Every single drop! “Hot! Too hot!” They cry out as they disappear.
Suddenly the sun bursts into the scene dispersing its multi-colored radiance. But then when it sees you, it trembles in fear. It bows its head and dares not open its eyes to shine on creation. You gently sooth its soul, breathe into it, saying, “שָׁלוֹם עָלֵיכֶם! Shalom Aleichem! Peace be upon you!” Then you lift up your heart to God, Your Father in heaven and chant Mizmor 108:
My heart is steadfast, God;
My heart is steadfast.
Let me sing and chant praise.
Awake, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn.
I will praise you among the peoples, Lord;
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy is greater than the heavens;
Your faithfulness, to the skies. (Psalm 108:1-5).
Yes, every breath you take is a blessing. You count every one of them. This is how you praise God and give thanks to Him for His Mercy.
Simply, to be thankful is to count your blessings.
Take a deep breath…. Count it as a blessing. Every time you exhale, bless the Lord and someone today.
Breathe in with Jesus… and say, “Shalom.” Breathe out… say, “Aleichem.”
Do this now and throughout this day.
Let us pray for priests to be thankful always by counting the blessings they’ve received.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Make all your priests always be thankful for all the blessings they’ve received.