Living Our Faith, Growing in Our Faith

02-26-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.” Those are the concluding words of the Our Father, a prayer we pray at every Mass, in the Rosary, and in our daily prayers. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 4:1-11) we have St. Matthew’s account of Jesus being tempted by the devil after 40 days of prayer in the desert. Obviously Jesus did not accept the prompting of the devil to use His miraculous powers to do what would entertain and make Him popular. The inner strength, faith, and love of Jesus enabled Him to not only resist temptation, but, even more, to begin His pubic ministry by healing the sick, preaching the Good News, raising the dead, and showering divine love and wisdom on all who encountered Him and were in His presence.

Many of us began Lent last Wednesday by having blessed ashes placed on our foreheads and heard the words: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Yes, we do need to turn away from sin and the temptations that lead us to sin. But Jesus did not walk around rising above temptation and avoiding sin, He walked among those of His time proclaiming and being the Good News. His focus was not on avoiding sin but, as St. Peter says Acts 10:38: “He went about doing good and healing all who were in the grip of the devil.” “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These words from the Our Father sum up how we get far beyond temptation to sin and focus on the opportunity to do the good that is right in front of us. Jesus always had a positive, loving, and hopeful frame of mind. He was grounded in His love for the Father and His love for us.

There are days when it is easy, inspiring, and encouraging to love and do good and there are days where we are tempted to get caught up in anger, disappointment, and discouragement. Lent is a 40-day gift to us to see how much God loves us and how He enables us to be all we can be in the best sense possible. Living with Him in our lives is far more than giving Him His due by saying a few prayers every day and coming to Mass every Sunday. The first thing we see when we accept Jesus’ invitation to be part of His life and allow Him to be part of our lives is how much He loves us, how patient He is with us, and how He truly believes that we can love one another as He loves us. To love as He loves us is to give without thoroughly analyzing and counting the cost to the very last detail. As much as it is hard to contemplate such love on our part, we know from experience how joyful and life giving it is for others as well as for ourselves when we do so. 

I cannot encourage you enough to come to our parish retreat today, tomorrow, and Tuesday. Lent is a time to do more to live our faith and to grow in our faith. The topics covered are very simple and cover the deepest desires of our hearts as people created in the image and likeness of God: Night 1 - “Knowing the love of God,” Night 2 - “Knowing my purpose,” and Night 3 - “Living in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I invite you to say our parish retreat prayer today and each day of our parish retreat and hear Jesus’ voice inviting you to be with Him.

God of all creation, love, and goodness we seek to live and walk with you in our daily lives. As we come to another season of Lent and the blessing of a retreat to renew, inspire, and guide us, open our minds and hearts to the presence and power of your love in our daily lives. Through our upcoming Parish Retreat may we come to see the purpose of our lives, the blessing of your presence in our lives and in the Eucharist, and be open to the guidance and wisdom of your Holy Spirit. Amen.