“The Devil Made Me Do IT – – NOT!” – Matthew 4:1-11†


“First Sunday of Lent” 



Today’s Content:  

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule




Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I know it is not until Thursday, but is it ever too early to celebrate a great saint (and a fun time)?!  (PS – 286 days till CHRISTmas.)


Are you active in the “40 Days for Life” campaign?  If not; why not?!  Just pray, if not wanting to participate in a prayer vigil at an abortion death mill.


I personally would like to thank the Governor of Illinois for doing away with the Death penalty in his state.  Though the “death penalty” is not absolutely opposed in the teachings of the Catholic Church, I believe that even the lives of prisoners should not be taken away from them by others.  All life is sacred, including the unborn, the marginalized, the sick, the old, – – and yes, – – even prisoners.


Congratulations to Justin Cardinal Rigali for doing the right thing in suspending 24 priests in his diocese.  I am sure his action was the result of much thought and prayer, and probably not very popular with some people.  I pray other Church Leaders learn from his example as a shepherd of his flock.  God Bless you Cardinal Rigali.





Today in Catholic History:


†   483 – St Felix III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1138 – Cardinal Gregorio Conti is elected Antipope as Victor IV, succeeding Anacletus II.
†   1548 – Birth of Sasbout Vosmeer, Dutch Catholic theologist/apostole
†   1599 – Birth of Johannes Berchmans, Dutch Jesuit/saint
†   1615 – Birth of Innocent XII, [Antonio Pignatelli], Pope (1691-1700)
†   1951 – Death of James I Wedgwood, British theosophist/Catholic bishop, at age 67
†   1981 – Attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life by Mehemet Ali Agca, in Vatican Square
†   2004 -Death of Franz König, Austrian Catholic Archbishop of Vienna (b. 1905)
†   Memorial/Feasts: Saint Gerald; Saint Nicephorus (also in Greek Orthodox); Saint Roderick; Saint Leticia 

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”




Quote of the Day:


“When tempted, invoke your Angel.  He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!  Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him.  He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel” ~ St. John Bosco





Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ fasting for forty days in the desert and His being tempted by Satan, as recorded by Matthew. 

(Matthew 4:11) 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.  3 The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”  4 He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'”  5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”  7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'”  8 Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9 and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”  10 At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!  It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.'”  11 Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. 


In each of the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus is reported to have gone into the desert wilderness, after His baptism by John the Baptist, in order to fast and to pray for forty days, wherein, He is tempted by the devil.

Each Evangelist tells how the devil tempts Jesus in the desert.  In Matthew, as in Luke, the devil presents three temptations to Jesus.  (Mark does not mention the individual temptations.) The devil tempts Jesus to use His divine power, first to appease his hunger, then to put God’s promise of protection to the test, to become a world ruler of all the kingdoms of the world, if only He (Jesus) will worship him (the devil).  In each case, Jesus resists his temptations and rebukes the devil with words from Holy Scripture.

Matthew’s Gospel reading from today’s Mass is filled with suggestions, quotations, and similarities found in the Old Testament, particularly in the stories of the Jewish people’s wandering in the desert for forty years.  Just as the Israelites were tempted during the Exodus of the First Covenant, so too was Jesus tempted with the bringing in of the New, Second Covenant.

Jesus, just recently proclaimed by God to be God’s “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17) at His baptism, is now subjected to three temptations by Satan.  Obedience to the Father was (and is) a characteristic of being a true son.  Jesus was tempted by the devil to rebel against God the Father.  In the first two tests, the temptations were subtle; then, in the last one, the test is clearly more revolt.  In each refusal and rebuke by Jesus, He expressed Himself, in the words of Moses found in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut 8:3)

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deut 6:16).

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”  (Deut 6:13)

Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted out of His deep love for us.  He also allowed Himself to be tempted in order to teach us important lessons needed for our spiritual maturity and survival.

The divine Jesus is perfect.  He could only be tempted “externally”.  What does “externally” mean?  Well, there are three levels of temptation:

  • External: We may know this type of temptation as “suggestion”.  It is a temptation in which we take delight even though we don’t give clear consent.  We can experience this type of external temptation without actually sinning.  An example would be finding a bundle of $100 bills lying on the street and imagining for a brief moment keeping the money. (Finders keepers, losers weepers.)  [No sin occurs yet]


  • Internal: a temptation in which we take delight and give some consent, but not complete consent.  In this type of temptation there is some sinfulness.  An example could be picking up the money in the previous example, and taking it home.  Once at home, you have a change of heart, and call the police. [Most often venial sinning]


  • And, deeply internal:  – a temptation in which we give actual and full consent.  This is always profoundly sinful.  This type of temptation affects the deepest part of the soul.  An example would be keeping, and spending the money though you know it is not yours (and you do not care)!  [It is a mortal sin, separating oneself from God’s presence and the grace of salvation.]

Jesus’ temptations in the desert wilderness have a deep significance in salvation history.  Satan’s testing of Jesus resemble those trials of Israel during the wandering in the desert, and later in Canaan.  The victory of Jesus, the true Israel, and the true Son, distinctly differs from the failure of the ancient, disobedient “son,” the old Israel.  

Many (in fact, all of us) important people have been tempted throughout sacred history.  Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and all the Jewish people themselves experienced temptation; I believe we are all tempted on a daily basis, at minimum:

“For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin.”  (Proverbs 24:16). 

With Jesus zealously rejecting the temptations of Satan, He became THE example, and revealed how to handle temptations in our daily battles with Satan, or with any other evil enticements.  We need to learn to resist and overcome evil by our increasing knowledge of the word of God, especially the three verses Jesus knew and used in today’s Gospel.


The number forty has many Old Testament Biblical references:

  • the forty days and nights God sent rain in the great flood of Noah’s day:

“Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made.” (Genesis 7:4);

  • the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God:

“But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18);

  • the forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land:

“Here where your children must wander for forty years, suffering for your faithlessness, till the last of you lies dead in the desert.”  (Numbers 14:33);

  • The forty years during which Israel was tempted in the desert:

“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

  • the forty days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb:

“He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” (1 Kings 19:8);

  • And, the forty days warning Jonah gave the people of Nineveh in his prophecy of judgment to repent:

Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, ‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.’” (Jonah 3:4).


In the hostile environment of the desert, Jesus fasted for forty days.  At the conclusion of this period of prayer, and fasting, Jesus was tempted by the devil: 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2)

“At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.” (Luke 4:1-2)

Jesus prepared himself for His “test” by prayer and fasting.  Moses acted the same way when preparing for his role in salvation history:

“So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)

We follow in Jesus’ footsteps with OUR yearly Lenten fast.  Pope John Paul II (the Great) brought this concept to mind so eloquently in one of his “General Audience” addresses:

“It can be said that Christ introduced the tradition of fasting for forty days into the liturgical year of the Church, because He himself “fasted forty days and forty nights” (Mt 4:2) before beginning to teach.  With this forty-day fast, the Church is, in a certain sense, called every year to follow her Master and Lord, if she wishes to preach his Gospel effectively.” (John Paul II, General Audience, February 28, 1979)

Jesus’ retreat into the desert wilderness calls us, and teaches us, to prepare ourselves by prayer and penance before any important decisions or actions.  How often do you fast, much less pray?

Jesus spent forty days and nights in a physically brutal environment. Verse two of today’s reading says He was “hungry”.   Of course He was hungry!  Satan knew this, and took the opportunity to tempt Him when the “human” Jesus was at His weakest.  The enemy will certainly tempt us when we are at our weakest!

What kind of a temptation is there in Jesus “producing some bread”?  Jesus not only produced bread later on in His ministry, he also produced fish AND wine as well!  (What a great meal.)  However, Satan is very cunning.  What Satan proposed for Jesus would have been for His [Jesus’] benefit solely, and not part of God’s plan for salvation and redemption.  If you notice, all of Jesus’ miracles were 1) always for others, and 2) always for the purpose of salvation and redemption for all peoples of every race, culture, and nation.

When tempted by the devil to change rock into bread, Jesus refused to use His divine power for His own sole benefit, though He was truly and personally physically hungry.  Performing a miracle at this time was not part of His Father’s plan for salvation and redemption.  Jesus instead chose to accept whatever God “wills”.  Do we “choose” as Jesus did? 

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus is trusting in God’s fatherly providence.  God led Jesus into the desert in order to prepare Him for His earthly ministry.  Jesus trusted God the Father completely that He would not let Him die from hunger in the desert.  “Yahweh” [God] prevented the Israelites from dying by miraculously providing manna to eat in the desert.  In contrast to the Israelites of the Exodus, who were impatient when faced with hunger in the desert, Jesus trusted in His father’s providence wholeheartedly.  How is your level of “trust” in God’s providence?

In this example, Jesus teaches us that when we ask God for things, we should not ask for what can be obtained by our own efforts.  We should also not ask for something that would be exclusively for our own convenience.  Rather, we should pray for what will help us towards our holiness, and that of others.


The devil continued His tempting of Jesus, relentlessly and cunningly (I cannot stress how persistent and cunning Satan is!).  If Satan isn’t able make us renounce our faith, or able to trick us into a mortal sin, he will then try to get us to make little “choices” which will eventually lead us away from God.

Since “daring” Jesus to perform a miracle did not work, the enemy quickly moved to another approach.  The devil has no scruples and will use whatever way possible to separate a human soul from God.  Satan prods Jesus to jump off a high structure to prove His divinity with Jesus being saved from death by the hands of angels.  Tradition has it that this particular temptation happened at the southeast corner of the Temple wall, its highest point due to its geographical position on the hill.  Satan further supports his proposal, his test, with the use of Holy Scripture, specifically Psalm 91:

“For God commands the angels, with their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11a, 12).

This test for Jesus from Satan was unlike the Israelites at Massah, who demanded a miracle of water from Moses:

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16),

Jesus refuses to “test” God: 

“They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’  Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to a test?’” (Exodus 17:2).

To “test” God’s faithfulness reveals little or no real trust in Him.  It shows an opposition to trust in God.  On the other hand, we should also not be presumptuous in purposely placing ourselves in danger, expecting God to help us with His power, nor by asking God for signs of proof of His faithfulness to His word.  Our trust in God must be simple, complete, and full, – – not “foolhardy”!

Jesus does not demand from God an amazing, special, or unexpected show of power at this time in His human life.  He is completely, totally, and fully surrendering His existence to the will, the trust, and the love of God the Father!

Satan purposely tried to use Holy Scripture in a false way.  We must be aware of heresies from people interpreting the bible out of context, losing site of the unity which exists in Holy Scripture.  St. Gregory the great wrote:

 “The devil can also interpret Holy Scripture, quoting it to suit himself.  Therefore, any interpretation which is not in line with the teaching contained in the Tradition of the Church should be rejected.  Catholics should be on guard against arguments which, though they claim to be founded on Holy Scripture, are nevertheless untrue.” (St. Gregory the Great, In Evangelia homiliae, 16)


For Satan’s third and final test offered to Jesus, he proposed to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” if only Jesus would simply bow down and worship him – – the devil.  This temptation was probably intended to recall Israel’s worship of false gods during their desert sojourn of forty years (the Exodus; cf., Numbers and Deuteronomy).  Jesus’ refusal of the offense is therefore taken from the words of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy:

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.” (Deuteronomy 6:13).

Jesus’ statement is both a teaching and a warning for all of us to be on alert; not to allow oneself to be deceived by the devil.  We should appreciate and learn from Jesus’ attitude and actions during these three “tests”.  During His human life on earth Jesus did not want any glory which belonged to Him alone.  Though Jesus had the right to be treated as “God”, He took the form of a servant, a slave:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians  2:6-8).

So, as Catholics, believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ, we need to realize that ALL glory is due solely to God alone.  We must not use the fullness, completeness, and greatness of the Gospel to further our own personal interests and ambitions.  I found ideas of St. Josemaria Escriva enlightening:

“’We should learn from Jesus.  His attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who takes flesh to save men.  He has a mission which the Father affectionately guides with tender care: ‘You are my son; I have begotten you this day.  Only ask, and you shall have the nations for your patrimony.’  And the Christian who, following Christ, has this attitude of complete adoration of the Father, also experiences our Lord’s loving care: ‘He trusts in me, mine is to rescue him; he acknowledges my name, from me he shall have protection.’” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 62)

If we struggle without faltering, we will attain victory.  No one wins without first overcoming, little by little, until we have fully conquered our selfishness, and enemies of our human nature:

“Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer.  Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days.  Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelations 2:10).

In return for Jesus’ trust, angels came and “ministered to Him.” By coming to minister to Jesus after rejecting Satan’s offers, the angels teach us about the interior “joy” given by God to the person who fights against temptations brought forth from the devil.  To help in this fight, God has given us very powerful protectors against Satan’s temptations – – our Guardian Angels.  That is why the Church encourages us to call on their help and aid daily!  (By the way, do you know the name of the angel assigned as the “Prince of the Heavenly Host” of those angels empowered to help us resist and overcome Satan and all the other “fallen” angels? —————-(The answer is Michael).


In summary, each of Satan’s temptations to Jesus offers insight into God, the human state in life, and salvation history.  Jesus’ rejection of the temptations showed that He would not put “God the Father” to the test. (So, neither should we.)  Positioning Himself on the word and authority of Holy Scripture, Jesus rebukes Satan (“the devil”).  Throughout this ordeal, Jesus always stayed confident in God’s providence, protection, and faithfulness.

Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted every single day.  He overcame His temptations by the grace and strength which His Father gave Him.  In Luke’s Gospel, he says that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (cf., Luke 4:1).  When tempted by the devil Jesus did not try fighting His adversary with His “human” strength and capabilities.  Instead, He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit in and with Him. 

On our journey through Lent, you may notice the Sunday Mass readings calling us to adopt the same confidence Jesus had in dealing with His temptations.  By itself, God’s word will be – – and IS – – always enough.

My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

God’s promise of protection can always be faithfully trusted.  We need to keep in mind that “God alone is God”!

How can we conquer sin and coercion in our personal lives?  Jesus Christ gives us His Holy Spirit to be our strength, our guide, and our comforter during temptations.  God wants us to “fight the good fight for our faith”:

“Compete well for the faith.  Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:12).

He graces us with the power and strength coming from the Holy Spirit.  Do you depend and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for your strength and help in your life?

When Jesus resists the temptations presented to Him by Satan, He draws on His religious upbringing and tradition.  Jesus is able to quote from Holy Scripture because He was praying the scriptures of Moses and the prophets, and so was a person who lived His Jewish beliefs “fully”.  He also knew Himself to be the “Son of God”.  So, we too are responsible for engaging ourselves “fully” in our Catholic Christian faith and tradition so that we too can draw upon these when needed to help resist temptations.  The Secular Franciscan Motto says this so well, in seven simple words:

“Gospel to life and life to Gospel”.

Since Jesus rebuked the devil’s temptations by quoting Holy Scripture, how important to you is the Bible, the Sacraments, and the Traditions of our Catholic faith life?  Do you have a favorite Scripture passage?   Please remember, and be encouraged, that “one does not live by bread alone”…….. but, by “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  (A little known motto of our Jesus believing Jewish cousins.)



 “Our Father


“Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.  Amen.”


Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley




A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leander of Seville (c. 550-600)


The next time you recite the Nicene Creed at Mass, think of today’s saint.  For it was Leander of Seville who, as bishop, introduced the practice in the sixth century.  He saw it as a way to help reinforce the faith of his people and as an antidote against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.  By the end of his life, Leander had helped Christianity flourish in Spain at a time of political and religious upheaval.

Leander’s own family was heavily influenced by Arianism, but he himself grew up to be a fervent Christian.  He entered a monastery as a young man and spent three years in prayer and study.  At the end of that tranquil period he was made a bishop.  For the rest of his life he worked strenuously to fight against heresy.  The death of the anti-Christian king in 586 helped Leander’s cause.  He and the new king worked hand in hand to restore orthodoxy and a renewed sense of morality.  Leander succeeded in persuading many Arian bishops to change their loyalties.

Leander died around 600.  In Spain he is honored as a Doctor of the Church.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)




New Translation of the Mass


In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God. 


The Glory to God (Gloria) has been significantly changed, with more words and many lines rearranged.

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of
the father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One.
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick




Franciscan Formation Reflection:


Prayer I

What attitudes do prayers create in me? 
Can you identify with your prayers? 
What is your approach to prayer? 
How is your prayer-life like Jesus Christ and St. Francis? 
How do you handle it when you fall into the habit of “reciting prayers” rather than “praying prayers”? 
Can you define the difference?




Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 13 & 14 of 26:

13.  As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.


14.  Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.  


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