In the Roman Rite, the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday, while in the Maronite Rite for example, the Lenten season begins on the Sunday and Monday before Ash Wednesday.
Lent is a liturgical season in the Catholic Church, which prepares us for the great feast of Easter, by taking time throughout the weeks before Easter, to remind us of our sinful nature, and of our need for a savior to redeem us. Lent is a time for us to look into our own lives, and to examine if our relationship with Jesus Christ is strong. Although humanity in its nature is good, we are broken due to the fall of Adam and Eve. Because of Original Sin, our desires are disordered, meaning we have a tendency to make sinful decisions.
For us to spiritually prepare for the days commemorating Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday), we need to take some time to spiritually prepare for Holy Week, by asking ourselves what are our greatest temptations, and to examine our souls to see if we have succeeded in the area of resisting temptations.
This is the purpose of Lent; a time to spiritually prepare for Easter.
The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent in the Roman Rite, talks about the temptations of Jesus Christ by Lucifer, in the desert (Luke 4:1-13). We are all familiar with the three temptations of Jesus Christ in the desert scene, but did you know that there were actually four temptations?
In verse 13 of chapter 4 in the Gospel of Luke, Saint Luke hints of another temptation, when he writes: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” [underlining emphasis mine] The next time the Devil tempts Jesus is when Christ is on the cross; but instead of tempting Jesus face-to-face in person, like what happened in the desert, this time Lucifer does the last temptation through human beings as his instruments (Luke 23:35-37; 39).
Our world is filled with many temptations, and sadly, we live in a time where the majority of humanity prefers living in sin, than in the Twelve Righteous Virtues. As we can see throughout human history, falling to temptations is destructive. The Sexual Revolution for example, emphasized that fornication would bring about the betterment of humanity; yet in reality, it has brought about nothing but misery, such as abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. Gender is being redefined today, and, in a big way, virtuous masculinity is attacked and ridiculed, pushing ManHusbandDads to turn away from male nature, and embrace a redefined, human image of gender, where there is no difference between masculinity and femininity. In order for us to push back against the many temptations in our world today, especially in the area of sexuality, we need to first overcome the temptations in our own personal lives. We can only change the world, if we first change our own hearts, by embracing the virtues, including Chastity.
To help us examine our souls in the area of sin, so that we can be purified from our imperfections, let’s examine, as a guide, the temptations of Jesus Christ. Reflecting upon the temptations of Christ, and on how Christ overcame them, is a great Lenten meditation to prepare us for Easter. My next two reflections will talk about the four temptations of Christ.
I pray that you will always have a Lent that is spiritually fruitful; if I can help in that goal, I am glad.
Next week the series continues with Lent and the First Two Temptations of Christ.