“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.