Monday, February 26, 2007

The Desert Knows

Read this amazing homily by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP that was linked on Open Book.

Excerpts:

Lent is not about avoiding temptations. Lent is not about fasting or prayer or being good. Lent is about wandering into the emptiness, the vanity, the wreckage we have made of our spiritual lives and finding one more time the stalwart presence of God, the inexhaustible workings of the Holy Spirit. Seeking and finding the face of Christ.
(...)
Lent is a time for you to calculate with cold reason and a clean heart your commitments in this world. Where are you bound? To whom do you owe your money, your livelihood, your dignity…your soul? Who owns you? What ideas possess your mind? What passions fuel your heart? What images cloud your vision? What do you worry about and why? Here’s the question with which to examine your conscience before confession: exactly how would anyone know Jesus owns me body and soul?

Know the answers! You must. Because the desert knows and the desert will tell. The desert will tell the Devil and he will color in those drab images, season those dull fumes, stoke the fires of weak passion. He’ll parade your desires, sharpened and concentrated, parade them before you, lying to you, pampering you, telling you how much you deserve what you cannot possibly need and only vaguely want. When those ashes were traced on your forehead…at that moment, what did you want? Mercy? Forgiveness? Love? To be seen as pious? You will find it in the Lenten desert. But will your desires look like gifts among all that scarcity?

Pay careful attention to the gospel. Jesus went into the desert to pray, right? No. He went into the desert to fast, right? No. He went into the desert to start his new diet? No. Of course, he prayed and fasted. But he didn’t go into the desert to do those things. Rather he “was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil.” He went to the desert so that he could be tempted. The devil tempted him with food, power, and worship. Jesus refuses each in turn. He quotes scripture and dismisses each temptation as a mere shadow of what His Father offers. The devil offers Jesus illusion, impermanence. And he will offer you the same. And you will accept his offer unless you understand with near perfect clarity and will what you want, what you desire as a faithful follower of Christ.

Lent is not about avoiding temptation. Lent is about walking the hot sand of deprivation so that what tempts you worms its way to the surface. (...)

3 comments:

Jacques said...

what would we do without OPs??

Aaron said...

Thanks for posting the link to Fr. Philip's sermon. I miss hearing the poetry of his preaching at daily mass; I didn't realize he has a blog. And this sermon for the first Sunday of Lent was definitely a zinger, just the sort of thing I needed to read.

dawn said...

wow...this is exactly what i needed to read. for the first time i understand very clearly the meaning of lent-to be led into the desert and face temptation. thought after thought, moment after moment, unrelenting temptation. fasting disciplines frivolous desires, prayer unites true desire to the Father and trust makes a willful act to keep walking with our Lord. whoever said it's only about giving up sweets is sadly misinformed.