The saints know more about temptation than you and me. Well, they know more than me, anyway.
It seems a little counter-intuitive at first. Shouldn’t good people know less about temptation? But of course, as soon as you consider the matter, it becomes clear that the very opposite is true. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.
As C.S. Lewis noted:
A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.
Maybe it’s no accident that the temptation of Jesus features so early in the Lenten season. Four days in, and many of us have already fallen; we’ve already broken our Lenten discipline.
This isn’t all bad. A lapse in our fast can foster humility, which is “the reason for the season.” More importantly, a fall is an occasion to “begin again,” which is the great secret of sanctity. The more practice we have “beginning again,” the holier we become.
We might see that Jesus resisted temptation, and become discouraged that we are not so strong. But that’s the point! We’re not Jesus. We’re not perfect. We need a Messiah.
Maybe, even as we pray to be delivered from temptation, we should also be grateful for temptations. They can increase our dependency on the Lord.
In the words of St Paul, “when we are weak, God is strong.”
Anecdotes aplenty, and all very funny.
Mother Teresa’s doctor:
The Lenten discipline, you will recall, is threefold:
Praying the Stations of the Cross, or the Via Crucis, is a very good way to observe the third of these precepts. Many parishes schedule Stations every Friday evening in Lent. When the Stations are prayed at a church or shrine, a plenary indulgence is granted to participants. (See note below.)
There’s no indulgence to praying the Stations at home — except on Good Friday — but it’s still a worthwhile exercise which will bring you many blessings. And remember the old aphorism:
Pray as you can, not as you ought!
If you’re unlikely to get to a church to pray the Stations of the Cross, but it is feasible you will pray them at home, then pray them at home!
Yesterday’s post on Lenten resources attracted great advice from many readers on other online resources, so I’ve decided to highlight, each Thursday, a different set of Stations available online. Some readers may like to use them on the Friday.
1. St Josemaría’s Way of the Cross
So here we are with the first instalment, and I’m starting with my favourite: The Way of the Cross by St Josemaría Escrivá. These are my “default” Stations. Affective, but not too long. The text is available at escrivaworks.org. I know it by heart!
But there is also a video version, which incorporates scenes from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. It is very well done. I strongly recommend investing 42 minutes in it some time tomorrow:
(NB: There may be advertisements which interrupt viewing, but they are easily closed by clicking on the X in the right-hand corner.)
What is a plenary indulgence?
A plenary indulgence is the removal of all punishment due to sin. The Sacrament of Penance absolves us of our sins, but a punishment remains unless an indulgence is granted. A plenary indulgence is granted to anyone who piously prays aloud the Stations of the Cross at a designated church or oratory.
Of course, plenary indulgences are only granted under these conditions:
1. You are free from all attachment to sin;
2. You go to confession (7 days before or after);
3. You receive holy communion (7 days before or after);
4. You pray for Pope Francis and his intentions.
Here are two great resources I recommend for Lent.
Firstly, Fr Robert Barron is offering a series of short daily meditations to span the season. If you haven’t seen his Catholicism DVD series, you really should. If you have seen Catholicism, then you already know how eloquent Fr Barron is, and how conversant he is with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
You can sign up at www.lentenreflections.com, but hurry. I think registrations close today.
Meanwhile, over at the The Gregorian Blog, Tom Hoopes has composed a useful list of suggestions for cyber-fasting this Lent. Read his blog post to get the detail.
1. Moderation instead of fasting on Facebook.
2. Turn off your phone.
3. Use paper in church.
4. Choose group entertainment.
5. Uproot your ear buds.
6. Give up video games.
7. Unplug the Internet.
8. Give up your extra technology for Lent.
9. Read real books for Lent.
10. Call people.
An eagle-eyed parishioner — who is also something of an early bird, but now I’m mixing metaphors — spotted me on Mass For You At Home last Sunday.
That’s bad, insofar as I was supposed to forewarn both of my grandmothers, and I forgot all about it. But they can always watch next Sunday, because I remember now that I also filmed Mass for the First Sunday of Lent.
This week’s homily was a hard one to translate into AUSLAN. I quoted at length from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, where Screwtape (a senior devil) expounds on the spiritual benefits of “living in the present,” and the rich field of temptations which accompany dwelling on the past and imagining the future. The passage abounds with abstractions like “eternity” and “temporality,” which just don’t lend themselves to sign language.
If I’m ever asked back to film Mass For You At Home, I’m resolved to deliver homilies which are practical and earthy, just to give the signers a break. They do a good job.