Lent - Preparation for Easter

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Introduction     |    Preparation
The world    |     The flesh    |    The devil
Confession    |    Holy Communion    |    Fasting

Stations of the Cross



Introduction

The Holy Mother Church is reminding us that is Lent. A time of the year that corresponds to the forty days before Easter Sunday, a time of spiritual preparation that culminates with the Resurrection.

Moses fasted for forty days before receiving the ten commandments, Jesus fasted also for forty days after his baptism before he started his public ministry. We should at least do something special to commemorate the life, death and resurrection of our Saviour, during this time of the year.

The Church is marking in its calendar this time of the year as an opportunity to come back to God, through a period of self denial, sacrifice, penance, prayer and commitment to God.

Preparation

It is an obligation as Catholics to go to confession and to attend mass at least once a year, the best time being either Easter or Christmas.

Lent is a especial time of repentance, marked by the Holy Scriptures as a time to fast and weep for our sins, to make reparation for our sins and to tell everyone to assemble in prayer. (Joel 2:15)

Jesus went into the desert for forty days where He was tempted three times by the devil (Matthew 4:1). Our lives are spiritual deserts where we are bombarded by temptation in many forms, in fact we are tempted by the three mortal enemies of our souls: the world, the flesh and the devil.

Mortal enemies of our souls

The World

The world is a gigantic source of temptation for our senses, all the attractions and pleasures of life find the right partner in every one of us. We get so busy with so many things to do, it seems that our lives are too short for the amount of activities that we could do, we get caught up in the currents of the world and without knowing it worship many false gods which rob directly the time that we must give to God. The Lord says give to God what is God's and to Cesar what is Cesar's (Matthew 22:21), so Lent is a time when we are reminded to curb on our self indulgence, to withdraw a little bit from the world and to search for God with repentance.

If we could acknowledge with sincerity the fact that we never do enough to have a perfect  relationship with God, then we would be given the grace to stop doing so many unnecessary things and like Mary in the Gospel, we would come at the feet of the Lord to know him, love him and serve him. (Luke 10:40-42)

The world is only a temporary  place for the citizens of heaven that we are (Ephesians 2:19), unless we desire to give up the heritage that has been given to us in the Spirit of Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us meditate profoundly on the importance of the spiritual matters above the world matters and give more time to God than to the world.

We can start by spending extra time doing our prayers, by extending our prayer life by meditation and silence, by spending more time doing works of charity, visiting the sick and the elderly, by reading spiritual books and by sincerely making a resolution to start a new life of commitment to Christ.

The Flesh

The call to holiness involves becoming a spiritual person, one that is more dependent on the spirit that on the calls of the senses.

The senses are windows to our souls. It is through stimulation of the the senses that we increase our human desires out of proportion until they become passions. The eyes hunger for beautiful and sensual things, the ears hunger in curiosity for the unknown, the sense of touch hungers in expectation for comfort and pleasure, our taste expects to be satisfied with delicious foods, our sense of smell desires only the most pleasant smells. In fact the senses become so fussy and intolerable at times, it is really a shame.

In a certain way, the soul is a prisoner of the body, it gets caught up in the animal inclinations of the flesh and strays away from the spiritual path that is traced before it. If we don't make determined efforts to control our senses we become like animals, subject to the lower passions of our senses.

We should meditated in the chastity of our Lord and the virginity of our Lady in order to comprehend the great value of purity. During lent we are called to abstain ourselves from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This is a mere formality, the reality is that we should be abstaining from having things that overstimulate our senses. We must offer to God a true sacrifice of self denial, in order to make reparation for our sins.

Lent is simply a suggestion by the Church to amend our lives, to repent and to do something to improve our relationship with God, the responsibility is entirely ours. This time of the year is a true time for sanctification if we cooperate with the call of God and harden not our hearts (Hebrews 3:7).

Fasting united to prayer is a very good way to promote sexual control in our lives, by fasting with bread and water at least once a week we teach our bodies to stop demanding like an animal and eventually we take full control. We can also overcome gluttony and many other passions by fasting.

(Romans 8:5) For they that are according to the flesh, mind the things that are of the flesh; but they that are according to the spirit, mind the things that are of the spirit.

The devil

This hidden enemy of our souls is always with us, he is like our shadow. But people have become so materialistic that if they don't see a thing, they don't believe in it.

So living in this modern world people don't believe any more in the devil, which is to his advantage. He is that silent killer of souls, a murderer from the beginning who tempts continuously even the most virtuous souls. He doesn't need to show his face because he works from within.

Who is the devil?, but a spirit of evil. If we hate, God who is love is no longer within us, so we open our hearts to hatred, the personification of the devil and certainly enough he comes in and claims what is by right his,... poor unfortunate souls.... Therefore we must forgive! and love!

If we allow impurity to permeate our hearts, we allow the spirit of lust to burn within us therefore the devil will be having a good time as king of our hearts. Only chastity and purity will cast out this demon that attacks the flesh so punitively.

He is the father of lies, he attacks the soul that harbours pride, covetousness, injustice, impurity, gluttony, insincerity, wrath, sloth or idolatry. Idolatry in our modern times being the love of the world as a false god or ourselves, little demanding gods that reject the true God through sin.

Beware of the devil my dear brothers and sisters, he is as real as you and me, you either fight him with your life of prayer and repentance or become his friend through indifference to God.

Let this become an opportunity to face the enemies of our souls by prayer, self denial, sacrifice, charity and commitment to God.

May the joy of the Resurrection be always our joy, so that as we suffer in Christ we will also rejoice in Him who is our way, truth and life.

Confession

We must confess our sins personally to the priest since the Church has received the power to forgive sins. We must confess our sins whenever we commit mortal sin or whenever we want to experience peace with God even after commiting venial sin.

The Church was given the power to forgive sins the day of the Resurrection of Our Lord.
Jesus appeared to the apostles and spoke not just to them but to those who would represent his Church in the future [ the priests ]

[Jn 20:21-23 ]

21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

By the Law of the Church, we must confess our sins at least once a year. Of course we must confess our sins as soon as we commit mortal sin. Mortal sin is the sin that makes our souls die eternally, in other words it leads us to hell.

Unless we confess our mortal sins, we are doomed to go to hell, mortal sins are those violations of any of the ten commandments. Venial sins are sins of lesser degree than mortal sins, they eventually lead us to mortal sin. No one is exempt from sin, therefore
we must humble ourselves and go to confession at least once a month. By confession is understood the personal confession of our sins to a priest. There are other types of general confessions, but they have no validity unless we confess our sins personally to
the priest except in an emergency that would prevent otherwise. e.g. there is a war and people don't have the time to confess their sins personally.

Why do we confess our sins to a priest and not to God directly ?

[Jn 20:21-23 ]

21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Let us examine this passage:

Peace be with you: Peace is the fruit of reconciliation. Jesus reconciled us to the Father by His death on the cross. He paid for the debt of our sins and by his wounds we are healed. He came after the Resurrection to participate of His victory over sin, the first fruit of his victory was the Peace that He gave to his apostles, the same peace that we experience when we come to him in the sacrament of confession and receive the absolution.

As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you: Jesus is the Son of God who has the power to forgive sins, He founded His Church on Peter the Rock, now after His death on the cross, He is sending the apostles with the same power to forgive sins, so that He can be with us in the Church until the end of times.

He breathed on them: When Adam and Eve received the first breath from God, they became alive. They lost their immortality through sin, therefore it was necessary for us to be given new life through the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is the Life!

Receive the Holy Spirit: Before His death, Jesus said to the apostles, unless I die, the Holy Spirit will not come [John 16:7], now Jesus died and resurrected, by His breath we receive now forgiveness of our sins and new life through our new spirit, The Holy Spirit.
This is a fulfilment of the Prophecy the Lord made through the Prophet [Ezequiel 36:26] I will give you my spirit.

Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained : Anyone who rejects this passage is surely rejecting the power of Jesus to forgive sins, which here is delegated to the Church.

When we come to a priest we come to one who has been empowered to forgive sins through the anointing given by the Lord to his apostles and to the Church. "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

As we come to the priest to confess our sins, we are being humble before God and we come with a contrite heart just as the Lord wants, we are also being witnesses of the Word of Christ by accepting it, we give Glory to God the Father for accepting the forgiveness of the Son through the Church and we give Glory to the Holy Spirit who is
always present in the Sacraments of the Church.

The Catholic Church is the Church founded on the Blood of Christ the Rock, who asked Peter to feed His Sheep, therefore making Him a Shepherd after Him [John 21:17]. The Church was also rooted on the blood of the apostles and the martyrs who gave their lives as a testimony of their faith in Christ.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The Catholic Church is the Church of the Way, the Church of the truth and the Church of the Life. The Way and the Truth we find in her teachings, the Life we find in the sacraments.

Holy Communion

Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He is the bread of life that has come down from Heaven (John 6:35, 6:48-51 ). Unless we eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, we have no life in us (John 6:53).

In order to receive Jesus in this holy Sacrament we must be purified through repentance of our sins and confession in the Sacrament of Penance before a priest otherwise we will be condemning ourselves by committing a grave sacrilege.

Holy Communion is our communion with God, when we pray the Our Father we say "give us this day our daily bread", we ask for this bread but do we come to receive it?

It would be ideal to develop a holy relationship with God so that we can commune with him daily. the Precious Blood of Jesus is our sanctification in this humble sacrament.

Wishing you a Happy and Holy Lent, and a  Holy Easter.

Joseph of Jesus and Mary
The Work of God Apostolate

Fasting    |   TWG Teachings  |  Stations of the Cross

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Lent - Easter preparation