Lent and the retreat
In the Wilderness by Ron DiCianni
The Archbishop of Westminster is asking UK Catholics not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent (listen to his pastoral letter here) .... he says that By taking on a regular act of self-denial during Lent we train ourselves to turn again to Christ.
I'm not giving up anything up for Lent - I guess I don't believe self-denial/asceticism necessarily contributes to the betterment of a person's character, don't think it brings them closer to God. This is not to say I don't give stuff up. I've given up eating meat (and fish) not just on Fridays during Lent but always and forever :) I've been trying to figure out what the difference is between symbolically/temporarily denying oneself something, and making a permanent change to one's lifestyle. Must think more on this.
Anyway, this week of the online Spiritual Exercises retreat from Creighton University is about Jesus' temptation in the desert, and we're asked to imaginatively contemplate the scene with ourselves being there along with Jesus. One of the oddest things for me was realizing that Jesus could be tempted, that he wasn't impassible ... as the retreat material states, What does it mean that, in his hunger, Jesus was tempted to turn stone into loaves of bread? This is not about a temptation to use magical powers frivolously. It must be that there is a battle between his inner desires.
Here's an interesting version of what the temptation in the desert was like, from the movie Jesus ......