Dear Parishioners of St. James:
Praised be Jesus Christ!
We are now in the penitential season of Lent. These forty days of penance and spiritual strengthening model Our Lord Jesus Christ’s forty days in the desert where He was tempted by the devil. Our Lord allowed Himself to be tempted in order to win the graces we need when we are tempted. Jesus utilized prayer and fasting as the main weapons in spiritual combat with the evil one.
When we pray we are alone with God, but the devil is lurking. We cannot avoid the encounter with the evil one because he is intent on destroying us. Prayer provides the spiritual armor to repel the assaults that the devil launches against our human nature. The Gospel for today describes Jesus “among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him” (Mk. 1:13). Temptations can be fierce at times but angels are ready to assist us in the spiritual fight. Call on the angels when it feels as if you are surrounded by wild animals. Jesus and His angels can defeat any temptation if we would only call upon them.
Fasting is also a powerful means of spiritual strength. It is paradoxical (but true) that weakening our nature can actually make us stronger. Spiritually speaking, the less we comfort the body the more we strengthen the soul. Jesus gives us the example of how to subject our human nature to God’s will by taming our natural appetites so as to be more open to spiritual powers in our souls. By curbing bodily pleasures we realize that our strength comes from God who made us and sustains us in being.
Make this Lent a good one through your prayer and fasting. Even though we may be in the desert among wild beasts the Lord will give us the strength to survive and emerge victorious in the contest of faith.
God bless you,