"Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil." --Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew IV, 1
Two weeks from the start of Quadragesima, I have been pondering and contemplating the most fruitful way for me to follow Jesus Christ, our illuminating Teacher, into the desert, away from the cares of this world to do penance and atonement, and to strengthen myself spiritually because I am still weak.
On recommendation of a Catholic whom I trust and admire, I am hoping to read Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. This book should help me to reflect on the urgency of living a good life as I await the time, that dreadful crossroads if you will, where I am flown by the Angel of God before His terrifying Judgment Seat to render an account of my life and time spent here outside of the Garden because of the sin of my father Adam and moreso because of my own personal sins. I think it would also be helpful during this season of Septuagesima, our Lenten pre-game of feeling the exile where the Church calls us to think of our exile and banishment from Heaven because of our sins, to read on the life of St. Alphonsus.
I'm still in prayer as to what I should offer up and when (most likely on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of the Season) to strengthen myself and to show my solidarity with Christ, the Innocent Victim of my iniquities. I'd like to quit smoking, so that should be something to do much less frequently. I would also like to limit my use of recreational activities to really get myself feeling like I am in exile, darkness, and distress. And also to intensify my joy at the Resurrection of the Lord and His Victory at Easter.
I hope to be more consistent and vigilant as well. The room needs cleaned, I need to not neglect my daily prayers (I need a rule of prayer for Quadragesima), and perhaps reading the Book of the Prophet Jeremias to add the Holy Scriptures in. I will also be contacting the Courage Apostolate and doing spiritual direction.
Because of my perfectionist mindset and how everything is either black or white, good or bad, no in-between, I would do well to not try to have some heroic Lenten disciplines that would not be conducive to perseverence because I tire myself out so easily, but something challenging yet doable, and I am hoping to speak with Father about this so we can come up with some sort of game plan that I can stick to. I really need to seek the intercession of my patrons (St. Christopher, St. Dominic, St. Maria Goretti, St. Patrick of Ireland, and St. Anthony of Padua) and of course of the Blessed Virgin and her most chaste spouse St. Joseph on this matter as well.
A little history, my best and most devoutly observed Season of the Christian year is Advent: new beginning, fresh start, motivation is high, etc, and normally I hardly observe Lent because it seems too difficult (even the Vatican II standards seem too hard for me, yikes!) but this year I am praying that I buckle down and persevere. This Season, just like the others, is not optional nor can it be forgotten because it comprises a lot of what our earthly lives should look like. My mother always told me that we can't ever have victory without a struggle.
I am offering up my prayers and fastings for this country as the government has dealt a jaw-droppingly low blow to the Church and her morale with the new HHS mandate. May God deliver and spare His people (thank you Holy Prophet Joel).
On a positive note, God heard my prayer from yesterday and Sunday because I went to all my classes yesterday and had a pretty good day! Holy Mass in the afternoon for prayer and a good sermon on trusting in God (I need to start journaling after Mass to remember the points of good sermons).
Closing, I'd like to say that I really also need to spend some serious time thinking about why I am Christian and how pure my intentions are because of a recent conversation that I had with another Catholic who is one of the most devout men I know. Deo gratias!
Holy Mother Mary, pray unto God for us...