Daily Lenten Reflection — Getting Ready for the Challenge

daily-reflection-featured-w740x493“There are three things which united together conduce to the salvation of man; The Sacrament, The Wilderness, Fasting. No one who has not rightly contended receives a crown, but no one is admitted to the contest of virtue, except first being washed from the stains of all his sins, he is consecrated with the gift of heavenly grace” (St. Ambrose; Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas, Luke 4).

Through faith and the grace conferred by Baptism, we are welcomed to the life of grace and communion with God, sharing in the Divine life. But, that is not the end of our salvation experience; it is simply our new beginning. Satan will continue to tempt us, so we must be ready to persevere in grace deepening our conversion as we continually turn from sin and to God.

Our reliance is not on ourselves, but on God who has revealed to us the path we must follow. Jesus is the Way and He has called us to obedience. He tells us that if we love Him, we must obey Him, denying ourselves and taking up our crosses. So like an athlete preparing for his contest, Christians need to prepare for the life of faith. In order to practice the virtues in daily life, we are in need of spending time in the desert—or wilderness—to become strong through weakness and surrender to the Lord.

The time we spend in the desert of Lent is not an end, but a means.  We fast during Lent so that we might become more detached from things that separate us from God during the rest of the year. Lent is like training for a marathon or practicing musical scales so that our playing music becomes more accomplished. Let us remember this both now and when Lent comes to a close. We strengthen our spiritual muscles to become and remain stronger, not to fall back to weakness when Lent ends.

Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return. Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Editor’s Note: Join us each morning during Lent for Daily Lenten Reflections.

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By Deacon Michael Bickerstaff

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff Editor-In-Chief, ICL

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is also the Founder and President of Virtue@Work, where he provides Executive and Personal Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consulting. Deacon Mike has 30+ years management consulting experience in senior executive leadership positions providing organizational planning and implementation services with a focus on human resource strategy and tax qualified retirement plan design, administration and compliance.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two married children and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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