Lent and the Path to Freedom: Doing Battle with the World, the Flesh and the Devil
God does not need Lent, we do.
When I was a young man I had a priest friend who I now recall every time we begin the Forty Day Observance of Lent. About a week before Ash Wednesday he would say, "I am looking forward to Lent." The comment would perplex me greatly. Now I understand.
There in the Church, living in the Lord, we find the resources we need to grow in holiness and struggle against the lingering effects of sin. There we embark on the journey of holiness, becoming what the Scriptures call "perfected´ or completed in Jesus Christ. His Divine Life (Grace) is mediated to us through the Sacraments, in the Living word and the communion of love in which we now live. We are invited during these 40 days to take every gift, every grace, offered to us. We are invited to learn to wield the weapons of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. By these practices we grow in freedom by putting away the "old man/woman" and putting on the "new man/woman", created anew in Jesus. It is Jesus in his Sacred Humanity who fully reveals that new man. He is the model, showing us the method. However, in His Divinity He is Himself the Means. In Him we are redeemed. We are also capacitated to grow in holiness and virtue by overcoming temptation. Through His Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, he makes it possible for us to live new lives, in Him - beginning now and leading into eternity. Too often we forget that sin is a wrong choice, an "abuse of freedom" (See, Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1731- 1739, 386 - 402). We were created in the Image of God and at the very core; the heart of that Image is the capacity to freely choose to respond to his loving invitation to communion with Him. From the first sin, the original sin, onwards, every sin is an abuse of that freedom and leads us into slavery. However, as the Apostle Paul reminds the Galatians, "It was for freedom that Christ sets us free"! (Gal. 5:1) Our freedom has been fractured and the Cross is the splint which, when applied in our daily lives, restores our capacity to live freely! In his homily on Ash Wednesday in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI sketched for the faithful the portrait of this Holy Season as he reflected on the 40 Days that Jesus spent in the desert on our behalf: "That long time of silence and fasting for him was a complete abandonment to the Father and to His plan of love. Going into the desert meant voluntarily exposing himself to the enemy's attacks, to temptation.entering into battle with him on the open field, defying him without any weapon other than his infinite trust in the Father's omnipotent love. "Adam was expelled from the earthly paradise, the symbol of communion with God.... Now, in order to return to that communion and thus to eternal life we must pass through the desert, the test of faith. Not alone but with Jesus who proceeds us and who has already conquered in the fight against the spirit of evil. This is the meaning of Lent, the liturgical time that, each year, invites us to renew our decision to follow Christ on the path of humility in order to participate in his victory over sin and death". Let us choose enter into the desert, in Jesus. Let us welcome Lent by embracing its way of voluntary sacrifice, of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Lent is a path to Freedom.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention: That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.
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