Monthly Archives: February 2018

20180218 Lent 1 B

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beast …. When we think of a desert, we usually think of an extremely hot place with sand everywhere. It is a place without water and a person could very easily die from the heat and dehydration. This description defines an absolute desert like the Sahara Desert which is located is in Northern Africa instead of the Holy Land.

A desert in ancient times defined something other than an absolute desert. A desert was a place that was uninhabited or sparsely inhabited. It was any area outside the cities. It was a desolate area or wilderness; a place where wild animals, criminals and spirits roamed to attack anyone who ventured into the area.

Jesus went out into the desert to pray and prepare for his earthly ministry. Jesus always found time throughout his life to slip away from the pressing crowds, the noisy cities and even the disciples to find a quiet place to pray to his Heavenly Father. We too need to find time to slip away from the cares of life to find time to pray for help and strength each day.

Prayer is a very personal experience. It is different for each person. In our time, it is hard to find time to become quiet and pray. As soon as we stop for a few minutes and try to quiet our minds and hearts, we start thinking about all that has to be done – all the people we need to contact, all the things we forgot to do. How do we listen and communicate with Jesus with all these thoughts racing through our minds?

Several weeks ago, Father Jay talked about the voices calling us. “Sometimes I wonder if we are hard of hearing when it comes to Jesus; Are we listening to his voice and hearing what he says and then doing what he tells us to do?” Father talked about all the thoughts and voices that call to us. “Every day you and I hear a lot of diverse voices. So many voices – it is overwhelming sometimes. How do we discern what voice to listen to, which voice to follow? There are a lot of voices out there telling you who you are, what you should want, who you should be. What voice, whose voice are you listening to?”

Jesus heard voices too. Jesus heard Satan trying to distract him from following his Father’s plan for his life. Satan calls us too with promises of fun and an easier life. That makes it difficult for us to be quiet and listen for God’s will. Jesus was able to resist Satan’s promises through prayer.

Prayer is very different for each of us. Some of us may use a prayer book while others may pray from our hearts. Some use both methods. Finding time for prayer is so difficult in all the stress and hurry of our daily lives.

Even when we pray, it is also easy to rush through our prayers, especially the ones we have memorized like the Our Father and the Rosary. We really recite them instead of praying them. To pray them, we must slow down and mean it from our hearts. Try to think of the words as we pray these prayers so that we they are truly a prayer instead of just a recitation.

We seldom think about the beautiful prayers in the Eucharist. It is easy for our minds to slip away to the things we need to do on the way home from mass, the problem at work that doesn’t seem to go away and the relative that is always such a pain to be around. Listen to the words carefully when Father celebrates the Liturgy of the Eucharist and let the prayers change our hearts.

Many of us have been in the desert in the past and there will be more deserts in the future. Some of us will face layoffs from work, others will hear that they or a loved one has cancer or another serious disease, others may have to deal with addictions or watch a loved one struggle with it, depression and mental illness are hard for us to cope with and a person who struggles with suicide can be a daunting shadow that we fear. These voices call to us to discourage us and cause fear in our hearts. Then we begin to doubt God’s promises to care for us.

We are not alone in the challenges that we face in the desert because Jesus has been there before us. Jesus faced many challenges in the desert. The desert was a scary place where spirits, criminals and wild beasts lived. Anything could happen in the desert. He was tempted by Satan and he could see the evil spirits roaming around. At night, he could hear the cries of the wild beasts that could tear a person to pieces in a few moments.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan and among wild beasts, the angels ministered to him. The angels will minister to us too when we are distressed and weary from the cares and discouragements of daily life. We can pray to our Guardian Angel and to the Saints to intercede for us. We are not alone in the desert of our lives just as Jesus was not alone in the desert for forty days as he prepared for his ministry.

This Lent, let us step outside our comfort zone and do something radical for Jesus. Listen to the voice of Jesus who said “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Believe that God’s mercy and love will provide for us. We do this by praying for God’s help each day.

In addition to Morning and Evening prayers, I have added several prayers that I found on the internet or in books that have touched me. Some of these I have prayed for a long time and others may be included for a few months and are discontinued.

I came across the Prayer of Abandonment around Christmas and started praying it each evening. I have really struggled to pray this prayer sincerely from my heart.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld was martyred in December 1916 in northern Africa. Here is his prayer:


I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.


This is a prayer that I need to be able to pray – to accept whatever God has for me in the future. It is so hard to relinquish control to any one – even to God.

After the Epiphany, I learned that one of our priests told his parish that he was diagnosed with ALS. My mind immediately went to the first paragraph of this prayer:

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Even to accepting ALS? Am I strong enough to accept your will O Lord, no matter what it brings?

Fran and I too will face many challenges in the coming months; moving to Pennsylvania, finding new doctors and health insurance, moving into a new house to make our home and a new parish where we can worship and serve. My prayer is that I will be able to accept God’s will in our lives regardless of what that brings.

Will we put the voices around us out of our mind long enough to pray each day? Or are we so busy that we just don’t have time to spend a few minutes asking God to help us overcome the voices? Will we spend some time in prayer, so God can enrich us with his mercy and love to bring hope to those around us? Or will we turn the other way, so we don’t see the homeless person on the street?

My prayer for each of us is that we will abandon ourselves to let God do what he wants in our lives. May the angels and saints intercede for you. May God bless and care for each of you and give you strength to overcome the challenges of the desert that are ahead in your life.

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