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What Is Lent: Honoring the Sacrifice of Jesus

What Is Lent: Honoring the Sacrifice of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2

What is Lent – A Time Set Aside

Just as we set aside time to spiritually prepare for Christmas Day, it makes sense to set aside time to prepare for the two most important days of the Christian year. Lent is a time that offers us an opportunity to come to terms with the human condition we may spend the rest of the year running from and it brings our need for a Savior to the forefront. Like Advent, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.

But unlike the childlike joy associated with the season of Advent, with its eager anticipation of the precious baby Jesus, Lent is an intensely penitential time as we examine our sinful natures and return to the God we have, through our own rebelliousness, hurt time and again. Lent is also an opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the Cross – and it wasn’t pretty. But ultimately, the purpose of Lent does not stop at sadness and despair – it points us to the hope of the Resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried (Rev. 21:4).



Living Lent Daily

First Sunday of Lent

Today we reflect on Matthew 4:3–4.

Hungry after forty days of fasting, Jesus is met by the tempter. What is offered, like the way offered to the first human beings, is a way of pride. Notice that every response Jesus makes to the tempter is a Scripture passage. Relying on God, letting God move and speak through our lives rather than our pride, we can respond to temptation in a different way—a way that brings life, not death.
—Excerpted from 2020: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Amy Welborn

Hungry after forty days of fasting, Jesus is met by the tempter. What is offered, like the way offered to the first human beings, is a way of pride. Notice that every response Jesus makes to the tempter is a Scripture passage. Relying on God, letting God move and speak through our lives rather than our pride, we can respond to temptation in a different way—a way that brings life, not death.

—Excerpted from 2020: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Amy Welborn

Amy Welborn

Amy Welborn is the author of Loyola Kids Book of SaintsLoyola Kids Book of Heroes, and more than twenty other books for Catholic children, ​teens, and adults.

As you begin your retreat, pause for a few moments and allow yourself to grow still. Let go of any distracting thoughts. Take several slow, deep breaths. Become aware of the great love God has for you.

Matthew 4:3–4

The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: ’One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”

Children often see rules as little more than a limit placed on being free to do as they please. Many adults, too, live under this illusion. In the same way he tempted Jesus, the devil wants us to “make our own rules.” In his response, Jesus sets out the truth that following the Word of God is a source of life. In the Commandments we find God’s rules for life. By following these rules, we will remain connected to him and to each other. Our faithfulness is made evident by our choices, not only in what we avoid but also in what we choose to do.

When am I most tempted to make my own rules?

How do the choices I make each day show my fidelity to God?

(Speak to Jesus in these words or your own.)

Jesus, thank you for your example of faithfulness to God. Grant me the grace to listen attentively and live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.




More Lenten Resources

Ash Wednesday

Following Jesus into the Desert

After my baptism, I returned daily to the river and watched. When John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” we applauded. Some danced. Some jumped into the water and splashed each other like children.

People were so busy celebrating that they didn’t notice Jesus head toward the desert. I wondered why he left and followed.

He walked for an hour and then stopped. I stayed back, hesitant to disturb him. He stood still, eyes closed, and tilted his neck so the sun could fall fully on his face. The hands at his sides slowly rose. I became self-conscious. Was I intruding? I went home.

Days passed, and I wondered about Jesus. No one had seen him. More days passed, and I decided to return to the desert. I don’t know what I hoped to find.

Somehow my wanderings led me to Jesus, who sat with his chest to his knees. He looked thin and tired. His lips were dry and cracked. I stayed back. Had he been praying all this time? I can barely sit through a synagogue service. What self-discipline this man had! And what was he thinking about as he sat there? Did he love solitude so much? Or was he waiting for an answer that was slow in coming?I wanted to imitate him, so I started praying at a distance. I became aware of stiff limbs before I realized that much time had passed. As I gazed at a full moon, I felt famished. I wanted the comfort of my own bed. What was I doing out here? Why didn’t I leave?A thought occurred to me: “Yours is a useless life. What you do doesn’t amount to anything. You don’t amount to anything.”

I chewed on this idea for a moment. As fear mounted, Jesus turned. He knew I was there. My mind raced. A voice inside accused me: “You don’t belong here. Leave. You are interfering.”

I wanted to run. But Jesus’ eyes contradicted my inclination. I stayed. It was then that I noticed Jesus sweating profusely. Was he going through a battle of his own? His hands were clenched in prayer, and I followed his example.

“God, I belong to you,” I prayed. “I want to follow your plan, but I don’t know what that is. Show me.”

The image of the ill neighbor I care for flitted across my mind. Then I remembered my mother, who lives with us. I do matter, and it’s a temptation to think I don’t.

“Give me courage,” I prayed. “Give me patience and a kind word when I am exhausted.”

I closed my eyes. Peace overtook me. The next thing I knew, sun was warming my cheek. I had fallen asleep in the desert. As I stretched my stiff muscles, I looked around. Where was Jesus?

I began wandering and looking for him. Why was I seeking him? I should be home. I should be… I caught myself in this thought.

“Be kind to yourself. Test your thoughts.”

I heard a voice and turned to see Jesus. “We’ve had a lot to think about out here, haven’t we?” Jesus smiled. “Let’s head back. We know what we need to do now.”

As we walked together, he talked about his own temptations. And he invited me to talk about mine. When we reached my house, he thanked me. He thanked me!

“I know you’ll accompany me again,” he said. “Not into the desert, but into your busy life of service. This is love, my friend.”

He turned up the road, and I went into my house to receive a puzzled look and a reminder that the roof needed fixing. “And your mother has been calling for you.”


Overcoming Our Temptations

What is a temptation, really? We make feeble attempts with ardent effort to overcome our temptations during Lent, but what is it we are really trying to overcome?

desert treeWe are trying to overcome those things in our lives that hinder our relationships with God and prevent us from putting God first. So often we try to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong for us without any thought of God’s will for us. We naturally turn first to our desires for fun, to our inclinations for busyness, to food or alcohol for comfort, and to others for company.

God often comes behind these things in our thinking and often is not even considered as the source that can calm all of the chaos and desires in our lives. Instead, we put our human desires first, and we find ourselves in a state of restlessness, tiredness, or desolation. We feel lost as to the problem but also to the solution.

When it comes to deciding what is right or wrong for us, we can look to Jesus as our teacher. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and leaned heavily on his Father during his time there. It is only with his Father’s help that Jesus was able to overcome the temptations presented to him by the devil. Jesus surely felt the desires of his humanity in the desert—hunger, pride, and power. How ardently he must have fought against his human desires! How weak he must have felt! Jesus understood, though, that his strength to overcome temptations came by turning to his Father and letting God help him decide what was right and wrong for him.

This Lent, we are invited to make that same bold turn toward God. And we do not make this turn alone. Both Jesus and the Spirit are here helping us as we turn to God to give us the strength and wisdom to overcome our temptations.

Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.
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Daily Dig for March 1

Thomas Aquinas

Suppose a person entering a house were to feel heat on the porch, and going further, were to feel the heat increasing, the more they penetrated within. Doubtless, such a person would believe there was a fire in the house, even though they did not see the fire that must be causing all this heat. A similar thing will happen to anyone who considers this world in detail: one will observe that all things are arranged according to their degrees of beauty and excellence, and that the nearer they are to God, the more beautiful and better they are.

Source: Sermon-Conferences of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Apostles’ Creed



A Prayer for Your Teen’s Faith
By Kristine Brown

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)

It’s every parent’s worry. How does my child continue trusting God when today’s culture teaches him to question his faith? I discussed this topic with my teen. His fresh perspective gave me renewed hope.

Our open conversation uncovered three practical things parents can do to help our teens keep the faith in an increasingly faithless world. Let’s learn together how to help our teens stay grounded in unshakeable faith, even in the midst of the madness.

It’s not about controlling what they see, but controlling what they see in you.

Our teens may not always listen to what we say, but they will absorb every detail of our actions. Are we displaying Christ-like character at home? Are we treating others with unconditional love and kindness? Do we rely on God’s Word in times of trouble?

God designed us to shine His light. Our kids will learn most about what it means to be a Christ-follower from watching our example.

Listen, even when you dread what they might say.

I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me with their deepest thoughts and greatest fears, but I don’t always act like it. I need to create an atmosphere of trust – a safe place to share burdens.




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 Aunty Acid for 3/1/2020

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