Your Best Catolic Lent Yet

+JMJ+ Lent begins on Wednesday. That’s just two days away! At least I don’t have to flail about like I do most years, wondering what to do, what to give up, etc. This year I’m going to do some spiritual exercises from the Sermon on the Mount to make this my best Catholic Lent ever! Join me and make this your best Catholic Lent ever, too. I’ll give a brief overview of these spiritual exercises in this post, but you can read more about them and what they are meant to remedy in the ongoing Catholic Book of the Month series, currently featuring Brant Pitre’s Introduction to the Spiritual Life (scroll down that page for the book’s posts).

Adam and Jesus and You and Me, Too

When Jesus went into the desert to prepare for His public ministry, He was tempted three times by the devil. And these temptations are related to the temptations Adam faced in the Garden of Eden. In fact, Jesus conquered the temptations that defeated Adam, and became for us the New Adam. These same temptations are faced by all mankind on up to our own day and Jesus shows us the way we can overcome them, too. Jesus didn’t conquer sin so we wouldn’t have to. He did it so we could, with the help of His grace.

“…it is impossible to fully understand the good news of salvation without first grasping the bad news of temptation to sin.”

Ibid., 190, ebook.

The Three Temptations are “the triple concupiscence” or disordered human desire for 

  • pleasure, 
  • possessions, and 
  • pride

Or as the Evangelist put it in his epistle (1 John 2:16):

  • lust of the flesh, 
  • lust of the eyes and 
  • pride of life.

By “choosing to disobey God, Adam and Eve transform these three good desires into three disordered desires…” And so we all have to face these temptations in our daily lives. But Jesus conquered them and shows us the way to conquer them for ourselves, provided we rely on His grace to help us. 

“Apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Jesus conquers the temptations to:

  • turn stone into bread, 
  • to have all the kingdoms of the world (He’s already the King of the Universe, but the devil doesn’t know that), and 
  • to prove that He is the Son of God.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave His disciples then (and to us now) three remedies for the triple concupiscense. These remedies are or spiritual exercises are:

  • Secret fasting
  • Secret almsgiving and
  • Secret prayer.

Yes, secret. And every one of these is necessary. They all go together. Leave out one and you’ll get nowhere. Fasting “trains the desires of the body to obey the will of the soul” and prepares one “to enter the presence of God” and is a sign of interior repentance (turning away from sin and turning toward God).

Why in secret? 

Beause we want our reward to come from God and not men, and we only need God to see our spiritual exercises, no one else.

Getting our ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday does not violate this principle because that is part of our public worship. What I’m talking about in this post is our daily life, and in particiular, our daily life during this Lent that is nearly upon us.

Jesus didn’t conquer sin and temptation so we wouldn’t have to. He did it so we could, with the help of His grace.

There is so much more in Dr. Pitre’s book. I’m exploring it on Thursdays here on the blog as part of the Catholic Book of the Month series (scroll down for the posts on this book, Introduction to the Spiritual Life)

Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. I pray that you and I will stay holy and virtuous this Lent, and may these spiritual exercises aid us in becoming who the Lord intends us to be: SAINTS. God bless you and may His Peace be always with you. +JMJ+ 

Join me on Fridays for the Rosary Project Live on Twitter at 8pm ET, 7pm CT, to cultivate a culture of Life and Love, and to end the culture of death. There’s also a Rosary on the blog you can use anytime.

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” — Padre Pio


Notes and Links

  • The current Catholic Book of the Month is Introduction to the Spiritual Life: Walking the Path of Prayer with Jesus, by Brant Pitre: Hardcover, Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.)
  • There are a lot of books on the spiritual life listed in a post I did a few years ago on Dr. Pitre’s audio course on Spiritual Theology. There are links in that post for some of those books in PDF format for free at archive.org.

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Image credit: Banner, based on a photo from Pixabay, royalty-free free images. Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Bloch, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain. Temptation of Christ, by Vasily Surikov, from WikiArt, public domain. Christ, the True Vine Icon, detail from a wallpaper.

Full disclosure: When you make purchases through my Amazon affiliate links (or my general Amazon link) on this site, I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Copyright: All material on Catholic Heart and Mind is Copyright © 2009-2022 Lee Lancaster, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. See Permissions and Copyright for more. Quoted material belongs to others and they retain their copyright. Most images and quoted material are in the public domain except where otherwise noted.

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