First Sunday of Lent (Part I of II)

02-18-2024Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus is being tempted by Satan. Jesus will not be distracted by the devil’s efforts as Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Good News: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As disciples of Our Lord, we know that God, through Christ, has defeated Satan. Even though the devil remains active in our world today, we know a day will come when all evil will be destroyed forever and rule of Satan will be replaced by the Kingdom of God.

Understanding that the battle between good and evil is real, Lent is the perfect time to examine how we are fighting the enemy who is looking for souls to devour as St. Peter reminds us. What spiritual weapons do you have to help you? What resources do you look to for strength? How are you strengthening your resolve to be a faithful disciple of Christ? Do you spend time in adoration of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament? Do you look to Our Lord truly present at every Holy Mass? The Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion are the most powerful Sacraments that are given to us by Our Lord to strengthen us in the battle between good and evil.

One of the favorite targets for the devil and his demons is the family. Destroying families is one of the enemy’s greatest works and he is quite effective. He can be very subtle. The devil wants you to hold on to past family fights. He wants you to become bitter towards those who have hurt you. Lent is the perfect time to ask yourself if there are hurts in your family. Are there angry emotions that have been festering for years that continually complicate family meetings and communications? Perhaps this Lent would be a good time to ask Our Lord to deal with the hurt by asking Our Lord to help you to understand the issues and then to heal you and your family. Lent is the perfect time to speak to the people who are wounded in your family and encourage them to find a path to forgiveness. If you and your family can take even one step towards forgiveness, it will be a greater blow against Satan’s power than if you had decided for Lent to give up chocolate.

Consider Lenten practices that attack the very structures of Satan’s power. Because it is by such choices that we can bring Satan’s rule a day closer to its final destruction. Here are some suggestions from Fr. Ed Broom, OMV on how to make the most out of Lent:

1. Contemplate the Cross—Jesus Crucified
One form of prayer, highly recommended by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, is that of Contemplation. Therefore, during Lent, it’s good to spend at least some time in front of an image, painting, depiction of Jesus hanging on the cross for love of you and me. Call to mind the words of Saint Ignatius: Jesus died for all of humanity. However, He also died for you. If you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have suffered the most bitter and agonizing pains of His Passion and death for love of you and the salvation of your immortal soul. How precious you are in the eyes of God and of how valuable your immortal soul!

2. The Way of the Cross
Another salutary and efficacious prayer-devotion, especially propitious in the Season of Lent, is making the Way of the Cross. Within your local parish, there is most likely a Way of the Cross in the Church itself. Just move slowly, prayerfully, and with contemplative eyes from each one of the 14 stations to the next. This practice can be done in many ways:

  1. In a group setting guided by a leader; (like our parish Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7:00PM)
  2. Individually using a helpful booklet. One of the best was written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori;
  3. Simply gaze and contemplate with love and devotion every station and formulate your own spontaneous prayer.

It’s not at all a bad idea to bring your little ones and teach them to love Jesus who loved us so much that He underwent and endured all these sufferings for love of us.

3. The Seven Sorrows of Mary
In all times and places the meditation and contemplation of the Seven Sorrows of Mary can move our hearts to love Jesus with greater fervor and devotion. If you are not familiar with this practice, these are the seven sorrows of Mary:

  1. Prophecy of Simeon,
  2. Flight into Egypt,
  3. Loss of Jesus for three days in the Temple,
  4. Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way to Calvary,
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus,
  6. Jesus’ Body taken from the cross and laid in the arms of Mary (La Pieta),
  7. Burial of Jesus.

4. The Seven Last Words of Jesus From the Cross
Another powerful meditation would be that of meditating upon the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen both wrote and preached numerous times on these words, especially during Holy Week.
These seven last words are the following:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
  2. “I thirst!”
  3. “Woman behold thy son; son behold thy Mother.”
  4. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  5. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
  6. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
  7. “It is finished.”

To be continued…

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.,