From the Pastor – February 26, 2012

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. (Mk. 1-12)

I always look forward to Lent. And this year is no exception. Now that Lent is here, I’m happy to create my own little desert of calm by the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It’s the perfect remedy for the last two weeks of noise, feasting and excess.

One of the good disciplines of Lent is “giving something up.” When I was in seminary, I remember my rector publicly acknowledging that he gave up cigars during Lent. And then one Friday in Lent, I walked by his room and smelled cigar smoke. The next day I asked him about it, and he said that he decided to do something different that year because he felt like everyone knew he gave up cigars. He felt like he was doing it for the “crowd” rather than God.

The truth is that I’m not sure that it was necessarily a “bad” thing that people knew about it. Today in the Gospel we hear about the 40 day fast of Jesus. The only way that St. Mark the Evangelist would have known to write about Jesus’ fast is if Jesus had told someone about it! Think about it: no one was there when Christ fasted; He must have opened up his heart to tell them a little about this important moment in His hidden life. Sharing pain can help with healing, sharing joy can bring joy, and sharing penance can give strength. Jesus shared this story to tell us that He was tempted and He overcame. And filled with the same Holy Spirit as Jesus, we can overcome the temptations of the world so as to focus on the reward of heaven.

This year we have started a little program borrowed from the Archdiocese of Denver. In the back of church you’ll find some silicone wristbands with the word “Sacrificium,” or “Sacrifice” on them. They’re free (although we would appreciate a donation to cover the cost!). Wear one during Lent to let people know that you’re sacrificing something to united yourself with Jesus in the desert. And share your penance, if they ask. It might help you, and it might help them.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty