The Church wants to teach us how to overcome today’s temptations
In this special time of grace, which is Lent, we must make the most of it to make a spiritual renewal in our life. The Apostle Saint Paul insisted: “In the name of Christ we beseech you: be reconciled to God!” (2 Cor 5, 20); “We urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: I heard you in a favorable time and helped you on the day of salvation (Is 49,8). Now is the favorable time, now is the day of salvation. ” (2 Cor 6, 1-2).
Christ fasted and prayed for forty days (a long time) before facing the temptations of the devil in the desert and taught us to overcome it by prayer and fasting. In the same way, the Church wants to teach us how to overcome today’s temptations. Hence Lent emerged.
On Ash Wednesday, when it begins, the priests put a little ash on the head of the faithful at Mass. The meaning of this gesture is to remember that one day life ends in this world, “we return to the dust” that the ashes remember. Because of sin, God said to Adam, “You are dust, and you will return to dust.” (Genesis 2, 19)
This sacrament of the Church reminds us that we are passing through this world, and that the life of truth, without end, begins after death; and that, therefore, we must live for it. The ashes humbly remind us that after death we will be accountable for all our actions, and for all the graces we receive from God in this life, beginning with life itself, time, health, goods, etc.
These forty days must be a strong time for meditation, prayer, fasting , almsgiving (‘remedies against sin’). It is time to meditate deeply on the Bible, especially the Gospels, the life of the Saints, to live a little mortification (cutting a candy, leaving the drink, cigarettes, walks, barbecues, the TV, some fun, etc.) with the intention to strengthen the spirit so that it can overcome the weaknesses of the flesh.
In the Prayer of the Mass of Ashes the Church prays: “Grant us, Almighty God, to begin with this day of fasting the time of Lent so that penance may strengthen us against the spirit of evil”.
We know how we should live, but we don’t have the spiritual strength to do so. Mortification strengthens the spirit. It is not the valorization of sacrifice for himself, and in a masochistic way, but for the fruit of conversion and spiritual strengthening that he brings; it is a means, not an end.
Lent is a time to “review life” and abandon sin (pride, vanity, arrogance, arrogance, greed, pornography, sexism, gluttony, anger, envy, laziness, lying, etc.). Finally, to live what Jesus recommended: “Watch and pray, because the spirit is strong but the flesh is weak”.
Although this is a time of deeper prayer and penance, it should not be a time of sadness, on the contrary, as the soul becomes lighter and happier. Pleasure is satisfaction of the body, but joy is satisfaction of the soul.
Saint Augustine said that “the sinner cannot bear even himself”, and that “your sins are your sorrow; let holiness be your joy ”. True joy springs from virtue, from grace; then, Lent brings us a time of peace, joy and happiness, because we come closer to God.
For this we can make a confession well done; the most effective way to get rid of sin. Jesus instituted confession in his first appearance to the disciples, on the same Sunday as the Resurrection (Jn 20:22) saying to them: “Whomever you forgive sins, sins will be forgiven”. There is no greater grace than to be forgiven by God, to be free from the miseries of the soul and to be at peace with conscience.
Jesus wanted us to confess with the priest of the Church, his minister, because he is also weak and human, and can understand, guide and forgive us by the authority of God. Especially those who have not confessed for a long time, have in Lent a special grace from God to approach the confessor and deliver their miseries to Christ represented in him.
A very salutary practice that the Church recommends to us during Lent, once a week, is to exercise the Way of the Cross in the church, remembering and meditating on the Passion of Christ and all his suffering to save us. This increases the love for Jesus and others in us.
We must also not forget that Holy Mass is the most important practice of piety in the Catholic faith, and that we should participate, if possible, every day of Lent. At Mass we are facing Calvary, the same and only Calvary. Yes, it is not a repetition of Calvary, nor just its “remembrance”, but its “presentification”; it is the updating of Jesus’ unique Sacrifice. The Church reminds us that whenever we participate well in the Mass, “our redemption becomes present”.