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40 Days in the Desert

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. Mark 1:12–13 Today’s Gospel from Mark presents us with a short version of the Temptation of Jesus in the desert. Matthew and Luke give many more details, such as Jesus’ threefold temptation from satan. But Mark simply states the fact that Jesus was driven into the desert for forty days and was tempted. What’s interesting to note is that it was “The Spirit” Who drove Jesus into the desert. Jesus did not go there against His will; He went there freely in accord with the will of the Father and by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Why would the Spirit drive Jesus into the desert for this time of fasting, prayer and temptation? First of all, this time of temptation took place immediately after Jesus was baptized by John. And though Jesus Himself did not spiritually need that baptism, these two series of events teach us much. The truth is that when we choose to follow Christ and live out our baptism, we receive a new strength to fight evil. The grace is there. As a new creation in Christ, you have all the grace you need to conquer the evil one, sin and temptation. Jesus, therefore, set for us an example in order to teach us this truth. He was baptized and then was driven into the desert to face the evil one so as to tell us that we also can conquer him and his evil lies.
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Ash Wednesday Prayer

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6 One of the most important parts of true prayer is that it takes place deep in the inner room of your soul. It is there in the inner depths of your being that you will meet God. Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest spiritual writers in the history of our Church, describes the soul as a castle in which God dwells. Meeting Him, praying to Him and communing with Him requires that we enter into the deepest and innermost chamber within this castle of our soul. It is there, in the innermost dwelling, that the full glory and beauty of God is discovered. God is not just a God who is “out there” far away in Heaven. He is a God Who is closer and more intimate than we could ever imagine. Lent is a time, more than any other time of the year, when we must strive to make that journey inward so as to discover the Indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. What does God want of you this Lent? It’s easy to begin Lent with more superficial commitments, such as giving up a favorite food or doing an extra good deed. Some choose to use Lent as a time to get in better physical shape, and others decide to dedicate more time to spiritual reading or other holy exercises. All of this is good and useful. But you can be certain that the deepest desire of our Lord for you this Lent is that you pray.
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