Dear Friends in Christ,
The Holy spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days to be tempted and tested. During Lent we too are led by the spirit into the mystery of Jesus’ sojourn in the desert. ‘By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (CCC540). Lent, then, is a journey into the desert. We too, during this holy season, can expect to be tempted and tested.
The name Satan means ‘adversary’. In the book of Job, we are given a vivid picture of Satan in God’s heavenly court, along with all the other angels, where he has the role of accuser or prosecutor. The Scriptures identify Satan as the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve and, therefore, as the origin of sin and temptation. What the Scriptures and tradition make known is than humankind has a mortal enemy who, although a finite being created by God, is in a desperate struggle to overthrow God’s reign, usurp his Lordship and lead his creation into darkness and death. On Easter Sunday each of us will recite our baptismal promises and in doing so renew them. Bear this in mind as we move through lent because, as you will be aware, a renewal of our baptismal promises involves us actively, freely and voluntarily rejecting Satan.
Lent is also a time for us to discover anew and afresh the gospel, the Good News which Jesus began to proclaim immediately after his time of testing. What is the Good News? The Good News is a message in two parts; the first part is to repent, and the second part is to believe in the gospel. We walk together on this road marked out for us by the church and take up our call to stand firm and resist the devil, knowing that he will flee, and embracing freely and with love the gospel, which is Christ with us and in us, the hope of salvation.
‘In these days, therefore, let us add something beyond the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence in food and drink. Let each one, over and above the measure prescribed for him, offer God something of our own free will in the joy of the Holy Spirit. (St. Benedict)