Tag Archives: tempted

“‘40 Days’ Can Be A Lifetime For Some, But Can ‘Lead’ Others To An Everlasting Lifetime In God’s Kingdom!” – Mark 1:12-15†


  

First Sunday of Lent

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

I’m back!!  Three weeks without a computer (only an I-Pad) has been a pre-Lenten mini sacrifice for me.  (For some of you, it may have been a vacation.)  However, I have been hankering to proclaim the “good news”, so this week’s reflection has some built-up “BS” in it.  (Ah, ah, ah; … “BS” means “Bible Study”).  Do you need to go to confession for what you thought it meant?! (He, he, he!)

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Speaking of Lent, this past Wednesday starts our Lenten Season, that period of time (40 days, not including Sundays or other days of ‘worship’) spent in renewing our Baptismal promises to follow God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit through prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and penance.  We hope and pray we all have a great journey of faith this, and every, Lenten Season. 

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In the news the past week or so, is that a “hometown boy”, Archbishop Timothy Dolan (a St. Louis native and Archbishop of New York) had been elevated to a “Prince of the Catholic  Church” on February 18th by Pope Benedict XVI, in Rome.  He is now to be known as Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

 

I have NEVER seen Cardinal Dolan without a rosy glow on his cheeks, and a smile in his heart (and face).  The day before his elevation to Cardinal, during a Pre-Consistory Day of Reflection, then “Cardinal-elect” Dolan said the following:

 

The gospel must be ‘accomplished with a smile, not a frown.'”

 

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, – – in character, humor, reverence, and faith, – – reminds me so much of Pope John XXIII.  Hmm, could he become a future “Pope John XXIV”?

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Today in Catholic History:

    

  •  1361 – Wenceslaus is Born, Holy Roman Emperor, “Good King” of Bohemia [and of song](d. 1419) 
  •  1534 – Pope Paul II affirms George van Egmond as bishop of Utrecht 
  •  1616 – Inquisition delivers injunction to Galileo.  Pope Urban VIII alienated him, and the Jesuits who had supported Galileo up until this point.  He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy“, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  The Inquisition’s ban on reprinting Galileo’s works was lifted in 1718.  On 15 February 1990, in a speech delivered at the Sapienza University of Rome, then Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope BXVI) cited some current views on the Galileo affair as forming “a symptomatic case that permits us to see how deep the self-doubt of the modern age, of science and technology goes today“.  On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei.
  • 1720 – Birth of Gian Francesco Albani, Italian Catholic cardinal and member of the famous Albani family. (d. 1803)
  • 1732 – First Mass celebrated in first American Catholic church, in Philadelphia
  • 1925 – Jihad-Saint war against Turkish government started.
  • Liturgical Memorials/Feasts: Saint Nestor (died 251); Saint Alexander of Alexandria; Saint Isabel of France
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

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Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“Everything depends on my will. It depends upon me, whether I become a saint or a sinner.” ~ Blessed Mother Teresa, “Where There Is Love, There Is God“, Doubleday

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan, and afterwards, the Beginning of His “Galilean” Ministry.

 

 

(NAB Mark 1:12-15)12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, 13 and He [Jesus] remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

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Gospel Reflection:

 

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading in each Lectionary cycle is always about Jesus’ temptation in the desert.  This event in Jesus’ life is reported in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke); however, it is not found in John’s Gospel.  Since this year is “Cycle B” of the Liturgical year, we are presented with Mark’s account of this event this year, with Luke’s next year (Cycle “C”).

Today’s event from the Gospel reading today, as compared to Matthew and Luke’s Gospel of this same event, is amazingly sparse in specific and intricate details.  Mark’s account of Jesus’ “temptation in the desert”, barely says much more than Jesus went into the desert, led by the Holy Spirit – – for “40 days” – – , was “tempted” by Satan; He then returns to begin His public ministry.  The Gospels of Matthew and Luke go much further in detailing the event, describing how Jesus fasted while in the desert, how Satan presented Him with three temptations, and how Jesus refuses each one, quoting Scripture as His reason and belief.  Only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (not Luke) report “angels” ministering to Jesus at the end of His sojourn in the desert.

The “temptation of Jesus” follows His baptism by John the Baptist (cf., Mark 1:9-11).  We are told that Jesus went into the desert immediately after His baptism in the Jordan River and by the Holy Spirit descending upon Him.  After this “40 day” period of testing, Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee begins.  There is a purpose in the continuity and course of action found in Mark’s Gospel.  Mark makes a strong and “linking” connection between the arrest of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  Jesus’ preaching about the “Kingdom of God” is in continuity with the preaching of John the Baptist – – but it is also something altogether “NEW” and “AWESOME”!!  As Jesus announced the start of His public ministry, “proclaiming the Gospel of God” in Galilee – – the “Kingdom of God” is also beginning, in the NEW, EVERYWHERE!  The time of God the Father’s fulfilling promises were manifested in Jesus Christ Himself!  Jesus tells us directly and openly that the “Kingdom of God” requires “repentance” to take place in each of us; and He also declares the importance for a “belief” in His “Word”, the “good news” of the Messiah coming to light in our souls, our hearts, and our entire SELVES!

Above, I stated that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus during His baptism in the Jordan River.  This same Holy Spirit is, in today’s reading, now “driving” Jesus into the desert for “40 Days” (and nights).  The result of His venture (and personal retreat) was a far-reaching confrontation, multiple intellectual and spiritual battles, and several temptations by Satan Himself.  Satan is an evil entity continuously at war with the Trinitarian God, attempting to frustrate the work and plan of God the Father then, now, and in the future.

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The fact that Jesus spent “40 days” (and nights) in the desert in the wilderness is significant.  This “40 day” period, for me, recalls the “40 years” which the Israelites wandered in the desert after being led out of Egyptian slavery.  Earlier, the prophet “Elijah” also journeyed in the desert for “40 days”, making his way to Mt. Horeb, where an “angel” attended to him.  

Remembering the significance of these events, we set aside “40 days” for the season of Lent for fasting, prayer, repentance, thus sustaining OURSELVES on God the Father’s divine and infinitely generous forgiving love and mercy.

In the Old Testament, “40 days” was often seen as a significant period of testing and preparation for entering into a covenant relationship with God.  In the days of Noah (from our First Reading at today’s Mass – Genesis 9:8-15), God the Father “judged” the earth and destroyed its inhabitants in a great “flood” because of their idolatry and their total rejection of Him.  Only Noah and his family were spared as they obeyed God, taking refuge in the ark for “40 days” and nights.  When the flood subsided, God made a “covenant” with Noah, giving him a sign of His promise that He would not destroy the human race again by flood.  The sign is the “rainbow”.  (I love rainbows because of that promise).  Jesus Christ is the New and Fuller sign coming to fulfill the promise His heavenly Father made.

When God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He brought them into the “desert” wilderness.  Moses went to the mountain of the Lord at Sinai, Mt. Horeb**, and stayed there in prayer and fasting for “40 days”:

“Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain. He was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18).

At the conclusion of this “40 day” encounter and experience of faith, God the Father made a new “covenant” with Moses and His “chosen” Jewish people.  

This theme of “40 days” continues in the story of the prophet Elijah confronting of idolatry of the priests of Baal: God responded to Elijah’s prayer by destroying the altar of the 400 priests of Baal.  Elijah then fled into the “desert” wilderness and journeyed for “40 days” to the “mountain of God” at Sinai.  On this sacred mountain, God spoke with Elijah this time, commissioning him to pass on the restoration mission of “proper worship” of God, the Holy One of Israel:

“He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.  There he came to a cave, where he took shelter.  But the word of the LORD came to him.” (1 Kings 19:8-9)

(**Per Wikipedia, the word “Horeb” is thought to mean “glowing or heat”.  Hmm, remember how Moses face shined so brightly when bringing the Ten Commandments to the tribes of Israel.  There is an obvious “linking” connection with this mountain and “covenants” made with God.)

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After Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit, in the living and flowing waters of the Jordan River, He (as Moses and Elijah before Him) journeyed into the desert wilderness of Judea for “40 days” (and nights) to prepare Himself for His mission of salvation and redemption – – a mission God the Father sent Him to accomplish, in establishing a newer and fuller “covenant” – – one which supersedes ALL the previous covenants which God the Father had previously made with His people.  

In today’s reading, Mark declares emphatically:

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the desert” (Mark 1:12).

Hmm …, was Jesus compelled to seek solitude for such a lengthy period simply as “a test” to prepare Him for His ministry (?) … Or, did Satan want to lure Jesus into a trap (as he still does with each of us today) … ?!  The Scriptural word, “tempt”, means to test for the purpose of proving and purifying in order to ready someone for a task to be carried out.  Encountering conflict is intended to mature and refine His sons and daughters, as it did for Jesus.  The word “tempt” in this particular case, for me, simply means “to entice to sin, producing conflict and a challenge for us to learn to overcome.”  

Satan did his best to entice Jesus to choose to comfort Himself by His divine power.  Despite Jesus’ weakened physical condition (after 40 days of fatigue and lack of food), He unwaveringly rejected Satan’s subtle (and not so subtle) temptations towards Him.  (By the way, Satan offered three enticements as recorded in Matthew and Luke.)

Wow!!  Where did Jesus find His strength to survive the desert’s harsh conditions AND the evil tempter’s unrelenting attempts at seducing Him?  SIMPLY, Jesus Christ fed on His Father’s “Word”, and there found strength and encouragement in doing His heavenly Father’s will on earth.  

Hmm!  Since Satan attempted to “tempt” Jesus Christ, he surely will try to tempt us every time possible for him to do so.  And sadly, at times, will succeed.  He will try his best to get us to choose our own personal, materialistic, worldly needs and wants over God the Father’s will and personal plan He has for each of us – – uniquely, personally, and intimately in every detail.  If Satan can’t make us renounce our faith or sin seriously, he will then try to get us to make choices which lead us away , – – whittling just a little bit at a time, – – from what God the Father wants and expects for and from  each of us, personally and collectively.

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As I mentioned earlier, Mark does not identify what “temptations” Jesus was subjected to; however, we learn in a similar passage from Matthew that Jesus was tempted with power and money (cf., Matthew 4:1-11):  

Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!  It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10).

From this event, we learn Jesus’ technique for resisting and overcoming temptation.

Later in his Gospel, Matthew relates to us this core principle:

“No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

The principle is the core meaning of the very first Commandment: “I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt not have strange gods before me!”  The principle is for us to choose God fist; put God and our faith first – – above ALL Else!!  Are you following the principle and the path our Trinitarian God, through Jesus’ experience has taught us to follow?  Are you going in the direction in which God is leading us?  Or, are you taking the easier path, worshiping money and power – – “mammon“? 

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Notice verse 13 of today’s Gospel reading:

He [Jesus] remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1:13)

The presence of “wild beasts” in this narrative may indicate the horrors and dangers of the desert – – regarded by many as the abode of demons.  Or, could it reflect a “paradise motif” in which there is a harmonious relationship among ALL of God the Creator’s creatures, as found in Isaiah:

“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.  The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.  The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.  They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6–9)

Along with the “wild beasts”, verse 13 mentions the presence of “angels ministering to Jesus” in order to sustain Him.  This recalls for me the “angel” who guided the Israelites in the desert of the first Exodus (Who, among my readers can explain what I mean by the “first Exodus”?):

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s army, now moved and went around behind them.   And the column of cloud, moving from in front of them, took up its place behind them.  I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” (Exodus 14:19; 23:20);

This image of the ministering angel also is reminiscent of the sustaining angel who supplied nourishment to Elijah when he was “in the wilderness [desert]”:

He [Elijah] lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat!’  He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water.  After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!’  (1 Kings 19:5–7).

The combined forces of the good found in the “angels” and the evil found in the “wild beasts” is a profound image.  Jesus deals with both the “angel” and the “evil” in a direct, certain, and holy way.  Jesus, though tempted, sustained a profound obedience to, and respect for, His heavenly Father; by doing so, He brought forth a “New Israel” for God the Father in a place where Israel’s rebellion against their Creator had brought death and alienation in the past (Hint: can you now answer the question about the “First Exodus.).

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Mark jumps from Jesus’ “40 days in the desert”, immediately to the beginning of His ministry inGalilee” (Jesus never received any vacation benefits.  He must have been salaried).  In Mark’s Gospel, “Galilee” is the focal scene of Jesus’ most significant events of His public ministry, before His arrest, trial, condemnation, scourging, and crucifixion.

In God the Father’s plan, Jesus was NOT TO proclaim the “good news” (meaning of the word “Gospel”) of salvation prior to the ending of John the Baptist’s active mission and ministry.  Thus, Jesus’ public ministry was planned to startafter John had been arrested”.  We need to remember that the “Gospel” is not only the “good news” from God the Father; it is also about God the Father working in, with, and through Jesus Christ Himself (and working in, with, and through each of us as well).  It’s True!!

John the Baptist had enemies who sought to silence him during his ministry.  Jesus also had enemies who sought to silence him during his earthly ministry.  We will have enemies seeking to silence us in our mission and ministry as well!!  However, the living and true “Word” of God – – the Gospel – – cannot EVER be silenced.  (We are witnessing this fact today, in regard to the recent battle concerning the Church’s “conscientious objection” to the HHS healthcare mandate inspired by the present administration.)   

In His day, Jesus proclaimed the time of restoration – – foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah – – was NOW being fulfilled (and is continuously being fulfilled) in His very “personhood” on earth.  The “kingdom of God” was (and is NOW) at hand.  

So, what is the “kingdom of God”?  The basic word, “kingdom“, means something much more than a territory or an area of land.  It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign”, and a relationship with the power to “rule” and “exercise” authority over oneself and others.  “The kingdom of God” means the effective rule of God the Father over His people.  In its fullness, it includes not only human obedience to God’s “Word”, but the triumph of the Trinitarian God over ALL physical evils, supremely over death itself.  In Jewish belief, the “kingdom” was to be ushered in by a “judgment” in which sinners would be condemned, separated, and forever imprisoned in agony.  This faith and belief was obviously shared by John the Baptist, who preached “repentance” and pronounced judgment upon the leader of his day (Herod), prior to our Lord Savior Jesus Christ’s “fully human, yet fully divine” manifestation.  This Jewish notion of “kingdom” has been somewhat modified in the Christian understanding, wherein, the “kingdom” is being established in stages, culminating with the “Parousia” (Second Coming) of Jesus.  “The kingdom of God is at hand” IS the actual, physical, spiritual, and real reign and rule of God the Father over His people.  As I said earlier, and is worth repeating: In its fullness, the true “kingdom” includes not only human obedience to God’s “Word”, but the total triumph of God the Father (and Jesus Christ) over ALL physical evils, supremely over physical and spiritual death.  (Please read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 to see how Paul expresses this final triumph!)

The prophets of the Old Testament announced that God the Father would establish a “kingdom,not just for one nation or people, but for the entire world and ALL peoples!!  We need to remember that God the Father sent to us His “Only-Begotten Son”, the Lord Jesus Christ, not only to establish an earthly kingdom but also to “bring us” into His glorious and heavenly kingdom; a kingdom ruled by justice, truth, peace, love, mercy, and holiness.  The “kingdom of God” is, and continues to be, the central theme of Jesus’ still on-going mission and ministry on earth. The “kingdom of GodIS, and will forever be, the core and outcome of Jesus’ “good news” (Gospel) message.  (If you haven’t read Paul’s 1 Corinthian 15:20-28 yet, please do so NOW!  It’s ALL there.)

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The ending verse (Mark 1:15) of this Sunday’s Gospel reading, has a very profound meaning to me.  “This is the time of fulfillment” is talking about God the Father’s promises to ALL of us, even those who do not believe in Him.  Look at the first two words of this verse: “This is ….”!  God the Father’s promises are being fulfilled NOW!!  There is LITTLE TIME to wait, to take action, and to prepare for the completion of His salvation plan, the “Parousia” or “Second Coming”.  John the Baptist called for (and Jesus Christ STILL continues to proclaim) a personal change of heart and conduct, a turning of one’s entire way of life from rebellion to one of obedience towards God and His way, His Plan. This is the meaning of “Repent”!! 

How can we enter the “kingdom of God”?  Well, in “proclaiming the good news”, Jesus gave us TWO explicit things each of us must do in order to receive His “kingdom” of God the Father:

Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

When we submit to Christ’s reign and rule, Jesus gives each of us – – individually, uniquely, and personally – – the grace and power of the Holy Spirit needed to live a “new” way of life as “child-like” members of God’s “kingdom”.  Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, gives us the grace and conviction we need to renounce sin and Satan who is the “father of lies” and the ruler of this present world:

You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.” (John 8:44; 12:31).

Repentance” (verse 15) needs to be, and IS, the first step on our individual journey to His “kingdom” on earth AND in heaven.  “Repentance” simply means to change – – your way of thinking, your attitudes and disposition, and the choices YOU make – – the choices you make determine your life and its quality.  This is the way we allow Jesus to be the Ruler, Lord, and Master of our hearts and souls.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit strengthens us to resist and overcome Satan’s sin, greed, and selfishness, always prevalent in our world, not only personally, but also socially, as in politics and international relationships.  If we are only sorry for the “consequences” of our sins and bad choices and not for the sin itself, we will most likely keep repeating them.  “True repentance” requires a humble and contrite heart:

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” (Psalm 51:19)

True “repentance” then also requires a “true sorrow” for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future.  Jesus Christ gives us the grace to see sin for what it truly and really is: a rejection of His infinite and merciful love, wisdom, and hope, AND a refusal to do what is good and righteous in accordance with His will and plan.  God’s redemptive grace brings pardon, healing, and support when we deliberately and purposely TURN AWAY from anything, anyone, and everything keeping usfrom His enriching, sustaining love, truth, and hope.  To “believe” this fact (found in verse 15) is to take Jesus at His “Word” and to recognize that God the Father so loved us that He sent His “Only-Begotten Son” to free us from the chains of bondage resulting from the sinful and harmful weakness we inherited from Father Adam.  

God the Father made the supreme sacrifice of His Son, crucified on the Holy Cross, in order to bring us back into a relationship of peace and friendship with God Himself.  He is OUR heavenly Father as well, and he wants us to live as His “children” in paradise WITH Him.  God loved us first (even if we don’t love Him) and He invites us – – in a total and pure love – – to surrender our complete and personal lives to Him.  Do you believe that the Gospel, the “good news” of God the Father through Jesus Christ, has the power to free you from the destructive chains of bondage resulting from sin and the fear of death?  I DO!!  Thanks be to God!

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In summary, the “desert temptations” marks the “beginning” of Jesus’ continual battle with Satan and his evil associates.  The ultimate test – – or battle – – for Jesus, will be found in His final hours on the Holy Cross of Redemption and Salvation.  In a similar way, our personal and public Lenten observances are also only a “beginning” – – establishing, learning, preparing for our battle with Satan, – – and a reinforcement of our ongoing struggle to resist the many continual temptations we will face in our daily (sometimes hourly) lives.  During the Lenten season, we are led by the Holy Spirit to remember the promises of our Baptism in which we promised to reject sin and to follow Jesus.  Just as Jesus Christ was ministered to by “angels”, God the Father also supports each of us, personally, intimately, and fully in our ongoing struggles against sin and temptation with our own personal “angel”.  We succeed in this dreadful struggle SOLELY because Jesus Christ Himself conquered sin permanently and irretrievably through His saving death on that Holy Cross outside the gates of Jerusalem some two thousand or so years ago.

The announcement which Jesus makes as He began His preaching in today’s Gospel was recalled this past Ash Wednesday service in the signing with ashes on our foreheads:

“Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)  

Make this announcement of repentance and belief your challenge for this Lenten season.  After all, it is TRULY the “challenge” of our ENTIRE life on earth.  During this period of Lent (and every Lent to follow), we are invited “again and again” to strengthen and renew the promises we all made at our Baptism (even if we were a mere “few days old”), to reject Satan – – and sin – – so as to live NOW as “children” of God the Father in His “kingdom”:

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:3-5).

Through the grace, love, and mercy of God the Father, received at our Baptism, we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and know we also will be, and remain, victorious over Satan and sin – – with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Reflect on the importance of your Baptism.  At your Baptism, your sins were completely and fully forgiven, and you promised to live as “children” of God the Father.  As part of the Rite of Baptism, we reject sin and Satan.  During each and every Lent, we renew these promises of our Baptism, turning again from sin and promising to follow God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Maybe right now is a good time to pray the well-known prayer, the “Act of Contrition”.  One is provided immediately after this Gospel reflection; however you can also say your own “Prayer of Contrition”, from your heart and soul with a blazing brightness found on Mt Horeb.  (I personally believe a prayer of contrition, coming from your innermost-self, is a more meaningful and powerful statement of faith.  Otherwise, stick with the tried, true, and proven prayer I have supplied.)

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To conclude, the First Reading at Mass this Sunday is about Noah, the flood, and the Covenant God the Father established with Noah after a “40 day” period of destruction and testing (cf., Genesis 9:8-15).  Peter recalls this event when he wrote:

God patiently waited in the days of Noah.” (1 Peter 3:20)

Is God still waiting patiently for you to follow on the path He wishes you to follow, while at the same time, – – and, as His people did before the flood and again in the desert of the Exodus, – – you continue to worship false idols and the “mammon” of your choosing?  In doing so, you place your individual “materialistic” desires ahead of His plan of salvation?  Yes, He is truly “patiently waiting”; you need only to “drop everything and go with Him”!!

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Reflection Prayer:

 

 Act of Contrition

 

“My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
Amen,”
 

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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church.  Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.

Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral.  Oral tradition includes written forms.  After all, it ALL started with oral tradition.  Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Lying on of hands or healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.  

All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

 Christ’s Divinity, Part 2:

 Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58). RSV

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58). KJV

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I and the Father are one (John 10:30). RSV

I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30). KJV

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For in Him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). RSV

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9). KJV

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Porphyry of Gaza (353-421)

 

We go far back in history today to learn a bit about a saint whose name is not familiar to most of us in the West but who is celebrated by the Greek and other Eastern churches.

Born near Greece in the mid-4th century, “Porphry” is most known for his generosity to the poor and for his ascetic lifestyle.  Deserts and caves were his home for a time.  At age 40, living in Jerusalem, Porphyry was ordained a priest.

If the accounts we have are correct, he was elected bishop of Gaza—without his knowledge and against his will.  He was, in effect, kidnapped (with the help of a neighboring bishop, by the way) and forcibly consecrated bishop by the members of the small Christian community there.  No sooner had Porphyry been consecrated bishop than he was accused by the local pagans of causing a drought.  When rains came shortly afterward, the pagans gave credit to Porphyry and the Christian population and tensions subsided for a time.

For the next 13 years, Porphyry worked tirelessly for his people, instructed them and made many converts, though pagan opposition continued throughout his life.  He died in the year 421.

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)

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Article #’s 25 & 26 of 26:

25.  Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their meansLocal fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.

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26.  As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance.  They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.

To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.

 

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“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

 

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

         

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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”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

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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

 

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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. 

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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)

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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).

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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.)

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 “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

 

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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)

 

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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.
Amen.

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

 

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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?

 

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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.

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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.  

“God Doesn’t Tempt Us To Sin, Does He?!” – James 1:12-14


Fat Tuesday: Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts tomorrow; known as “Ash Wednesday.” 

 

Today is a reflection about sin.  How sin occurs, and the effects of sin.  We are getting ready for Lent.

"LENT Begins Tomorrow"

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, ‘What the heck happened?’

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life that He promised to those who love him.  No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and He himself tempts no one.  Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  (NAB James 1:12-14)

 

There are some interesting words in this verse from the first reading in today’s Mass.  Temptation is a Greek translation for a word that is used here for the “trials” in James 1:2 [Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials].  In ancient Palestine, crowns or wreaths of flowers were worn at festive occasions as signs of joy and honor.  Wreaths were also given as a reward to great statesmen, soldiers, athletes.  Finally, “Life,” in this verse means eternal life. 

It is contrary to what we know of God, for God to be the author of human temptation and sin.  In the commission of a sin, one is first influenced by passion; then consent is given; which in turn causes the sinful act to occur.  Mortal sin ultimately encompasses the entire person, and hinders our relationship with God.  Mortal sin separates us from God, and it incurs the ultimate penalty of eternal death from Christ.

Jesus is telling us that we are tempted to evil by the nature of orignal sin; and we have free will to accept or deny that opportunity to sin.  God will never test us by tempting us to sin.  On the contrary, God is with us at all times, except when we sin.  When sin happens, (in my mind) He is standing behind us, sad and crying.  If we are freely open to the suggestions and temptations of sin, (i.e., drug use, alcoholism, pornography, stealing, cheating, etc.), we are literally turning our backs to God, and waving Him away from us, like we do to someone we don’t want near us.

Thank God (again, literally) that He does not hold a grudge.  The moment we want to welcome God back into our lives (through the Sacrament of Reconciliation), God is right there next to us as our best friend forever!  we have to make the first move away from God, and we again have to make the first move to return to His grace.

“Lord, as children would say in phone texts to each, I want us to be  “BFF”.  I want you to be next to me always.  Please help keep me from the harms, and temptations of sin.  Please forgive me when I do fall.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Daniel

 

Died in 309, He and four companions, Elias, Isaias, Jeremy and Samuel were Egyptians who visited Christians condemned to work in the mines of Cilicia during Maximus persecution, to comfort them. Apprehended at the gates of Caesarea, Palestine, they were brought before the governor, Firmilian and accused of being Christinas. They were all tortured and then beheaded. When Porphyry, a servant of St. Pamphilus demanded that the bodies be buried, he was tortured and then burned to death when it was found he was a Christian. Seleucus witnessed his death and applauded his constancy in the face of his terrible death; whereupon he was arrested by the soldiers involved in the execution, borught before the governor and was beheaded at Firmilian’s order. Feast day Feb. 16.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #16:

 

Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.