Divine Word Missionaries blog will share some of the latest mission updates from around the world. The more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are serving in 78 countries with a variety of provinces/regions that are then grouped into four zones, namely, the European zone (EUROPA), the Pan-American zone (PANAM), the Asia-Pacific zone (ASPAC), and the Africa-Madagascar zone (AFRAM). The zones may work as geographical sub-zones wherever this seems suitable. Check back often for real-time stories from the missions.
A Lenten Reflection
Feb 19, 2018
We are now in the season of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Easter. Because the season lasts about a month and a half, it is easy to lose focus along the way to Easter. One way to regain focus (or, even better, not to lose it at all) is to seek spiritual guidance.
You can find such guidance in religious books, Catholic magazines, those booklets most parishes distribute during Lent or even online. One of our missionaries in the Australia Province, Father Elmer Ibarra SVD, has shared some online reflections about Lent (you can read his post here).
Drawing from St. Mark’s account of Christ’s temptation in the desert, which is the Gospel reading for the First Sunday in Lent, Father Elmer writes about overcoming temptation.
“Temptations are a regular part of our lives,” he begins, acknowledging the real world. To live is to be tempted. Fr. Elmer says we should not, however, confuse temptation with sin:
“Temptations are there to serve a greater purpose and that is to be able to choose God always. For Jesus, this was very important. He realized that in order save us human beings, he should be like one of us in every aspect of our lives. And being tempted is one aspect of our lives.”
Fr. Elmer goes on to say that temptation is also a part of Lent:
“The readings for the First Sunday of Lent always feature the temptations of Christ. And I believe that its purpose is to strengthen us as we start our Lenten journey. Hopefully, some of us have made some resolutions that we could achieve this Lent. And the temptations are always there to break these resolutions. … If we have promised ourselves to do some extra good deed this Lenten season, it is so easy to break that promise.”
The Church instructs us to do three things during Lent: fast, pray and give alms. The temptation to ignore those instructions—to eat a hamburger on Friday rather than a fish sandwich, to sleep in another five minutes rather than pray, to treat yourself to a new gadget or accessory rather than give the money to charity—haunts us from Ash Wednesday all the way up to the Easter Vigil.
But as Fr. Elmer points out, overcoming temptation is a spiritual exercise in much the same way that lifting weights is a physical exercise: both strengthen us. He writes, “The more temptations we overcome by choosing God, the stronger we get in making good choices and the closer we become to God.”
That is the goal of Lent, to become closer to God as we journey toward his Resurrection. Overcoming temptation is one way to achieve that goal, but we must be strong. Fortunately, Christ has shown us the way. In Fr. Elmer’s words: “As we start our Lenten journey, let us remind ourselves of what Jesus underwent in the desert. And Jesus’ example of choosing God always will help us overcome temptation and make this Lenten journey meaningful for all of us.”
Best wishes for a blessed and meaningful Lent from all of us at the Mission Center.