From the Pastor – February 26, 2023

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil(Lk 4:1-2a)

That little verse above is the reason behind the holy Season of Lent.  And all I can say is thank God for Lent!

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 Mardi Gras:  noise, feasting and excess.

One of the good disciplines of Lent is “giving something up.”  When I was in seminary, I remember my rector giving 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 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 that 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. Luke the Evangelist would have known to write about Jesus’ fast in the 4th Chapter of the Gospel 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.  I ate my last bit of red meat on Tuesday and washed it down with a last sip of wine.  And now I’ve got those imposing 40 days ahead of me.  Maybe in a few years when I build up enough spiritual strength, I’ll even have the courage to give up my morning coffee!

(Very Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty