Sunday, March 05, 2006

Temptation Sunday

Before the rest of the house woke up I sat down this morning with some coffee and some early morning readings and it wasn't long before I became aware of the overriding "theme" of this day. Temptation. In Mark's Gospel today Jesus is led by the Spirit "out into the desert" to be tempted by satan. And in this morning's Divine Office readings, St. Augustine writes

Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or tempations.
And so it is. We are tempted constanly by satan. He always seems to find our weakness and exploit it. However I'm come to learn that the weakness is always where we least expect it. Why? In a word: pride. Our pride gives us false confidence that surely satan would never attempt to get me to do that. After all, I've never done it before and have no intention of it.

My 1903 book Sermons of the Cure de Ars, has St. John Vianney stating

...temptation is necessary to convince our mind of our unworthiness, and to prevent pride from becoming master over us.


And that's precisely what has happened to me over the past few years that has led me into a spiritual wilderness the likes of which I've never thought possible. And today, for the first time, I see it plainly for what it is, and what the solution is as well. My solution is to give a gift to God at the end of Lent this year. I got the idea from my pastor's homily this morning at Mass. And what is my gift? To break free of this sin once and for all and reconcile myself to Christ and His Church. To leave the snare of mortal sin and approach the confessional not only ready to confess my sins and to do penance as I have countless times before, but this time to approach first with a contrite humbled and determined and ready to approach the Lord in humility. To swallow my acursed pride.

I'm ready to do this. I have to do this.

St. Vianney further writes

If in Christ you have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ's temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.
In Him. With Him. Through Him. Learning from Him I will triumph over these temptations. I have made half-hearted attempts several times, but I see now that I've been leaving a key (THE key) component out of the equation: Christ himself. How foolish of me. And how simple an answer. Jesus himself.

In order to be able to present this gift to Jesus I will need to do several things, not the least of which is devote myself to some prayer and study. This means that my already tight schedule will have to make room, and therefore the obvious thing to go will be time spent online. I have already decided to discontinue my half-hearted attempt at another blog and stay with this one. I like it. It's grown on me. I will still post now and then during Lent as I've discovered how to do so without actually logging into Blogger, but I doubt it will be very much.

I'm ready to do this. I have to do this.

Today's first two reading saw God making his covenant with Noah after the flood, and in the 1st letter of Peter, he ties both Christ's being tempted and the covenant with Noah together in the significance of baptism. He writes of the eight human survivors of the ark being saved through water

This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, ...
I have focused too often on the trappings of sin and of being tempted, and not enough on Christ's victory over sin, and of the lessons He taught us. In order to give my gift to God at the end of Lent I must stop squandering the graces I was given at baptism.

I'm ready to do this. I have to do this.

Pray for me, as I pray for all of you.

Today's Readings

Related Catechism texts:
1440-1449 The Sacrament of Penance: God’s deed in and through the Church.
538-540 Temptations of Jesus.
845-848 Church as ark. No salvation apart from that that is manifest in the Church.
1078-1082 The Father: source of the covenant of blessing.
1219-1220 Noah’s ark: baptismal image.
1226-1228 Baptism in the Church.


At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear the message loud and clear...


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