"Now is the day of salvation" |
2 Corinthians 6: 2
We need the three-fold weapons of prayer, fasting and penance to fend off the world, the flesh and the devil.
"We need to be very suspicious of a 'spirit' that leads people away from the traditional doctrine and penitential practices of the Church, away from the sense of sin and the fear of God's just punishments, and along an easy path that assures them that, come what may, they will end up in Heaven. The saints were not so sure of themselves. St. Teresa of Avila tells us in her autobiography that she was shown by God the place that was being prepared for her in Hell if she didn't get her act together. She did. Have we? Or is God preparing a place in Hell for us?"
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the First Sunday of Lent, he focuses on the Gospel from Matthew in which there were two 'spirits' present - the good: the Holy Ghost; the bad - the devil who tempted our Lord in the desert. God knows the evil one has been tempting every one of us during this 40-year time in the desert of deception and destruction of the Church thanks to Vatican II, which Father refers to as the bad spirit - the "spirit of Vatican II" and how we can know them by their fruits. Father emphasizes that we need to realize this and be very, very leery and suspicious of the false prophets who would lead us away from the constituted evangelic traditions and infrangible truths handed down. He cites the Fear of the Lord instilled in that holy doctor Saint Teresa of Avila and if she was worried about fearing hell, then we sure should be. That, as Father illustrates with the Roman Protestant church's total relaxation and abandonment of the necessity for fast, abstinence and penance, has made millions of souls ripe for satan's snares. Father reminds us of St. Peter's words on the virtues and how they can bulk us up with legal spiritual steroids, if you will, to enable us to fend off the beast when he comes calling, tempting. "Vade Satana!" [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
Father Louis J. Campbell
"In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth…" (Gen.1:1). From the first day, the devil hated God's beautiful creation and was in a rage of jealousy when God made the first man and woman, and clothed them with Sanctifying Grace. His singular purpose was to return God's new orderly and peaceful universe to chaos. Hence the "father of lies" seduced Eve and her husband, Adam, and sin entered the world - and suffering, and war, and death.
Now, as we hear in the Gospel today, the old serpent, fearing that God had a plan to reverse his scheme of wonton destruction, dared to take on the Son of God, not understanding that He was the promised Redeemer, the Messiah, of Whom the Father had said: "This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
The contest was over before it began. Even the devil with his superior angelic intelligence was no match for Divine Wisdom. Although Our Lord being sinless was not affected by concupiscence, the devil attacked Jesus at the three weak points of fallen human nature mentioned by St. John in his first Epistle (1 John 2:16): the concupiscence of the flesh: "If thou are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread;" the pride of life: "If thou are the Son of God, throw thyself down" (from the pinnacle of the Temple); and the concupiscence of the eyes: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." The Son of Man easily defeated Satan by His knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures.
During these forty days of Lent we are also being led by the Spirit to fast, to pray, and to give alms or do good deeds. Lent is our desert where we will encounter the same temptations Jesus faced, and find ourselves wrestling with the same devil. Our first temptation from the "father of lies" may well be: "Don't do it! You are too busy to pray, your health might suffer if you fast, and you can't afford the time or money to help others."
The same spirit, which in these times might be called the "spirit of Vatican II," has already lead the Novus Ordo Church along the easy path that leads to destruction. Prayers and devotions have been curtailed; the Stations of the Cross are passé; the Ember Days have been dropped. Fasting is prescribed for only two days of the year, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In the United States abstinence (from meat) is prescribed by the bishops for the Fridays of Lent, although the new Code of Canon Law (1983) of the Conciliar Church actually prescribes abstinence on ALL Fridays of the year:
"All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the universal Church (Canon 1250).
Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Canon 121).
We note that the New Code says that the "time of Lent" is penitential, but prescribes fast and abstinence only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Few will take it upon themselves to do penance on the other days of Lent. The bishops of the United States (USCCB) allow that for the Fridays outside of Lent if abstinence is not observed other acts of penance may be substituted. But how many people do you know who do anything penitential at all on the Fridays of the year? And how many Novus Ordo bishops or priests inform them of that obligation?
We recall that there are two "spirits" spoken of in today's Gospel, the Holy Spirit: "Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1), and the evil spirit, the devil, of whom Jesus says: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie he speaks from his very nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).
We need to be very suspicious of a "spirit" that leads people away from the traditional doctrine and penitential practices of the Church, away from the sense of sin and the fear of God's just punishments, and along an easy path that assures them that, come what may, they will end up in Heaven. The saints were not so sure of themselves. St. Teresa of Avila tells us in her autobiography that she was shown by God the place that was being prepared for her in Hell if she didn't get her act together. She did. Have we? Or is God preparing a place in Hell for us?
Dom Prosper Gueranger comments on "the world, the flesh, and the devil," our three sources of temptation: "The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the temptations of our divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare, and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! Now is the acceptable time. Behold! Now is the day of salvation" (Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year: Lent, v. 5).
In his second Epistle to the Church our first Holy Father, St. Peter, tells us how we must strive to win Heaven:
"Do you accordingly on your part strive diligently to supply your faith with virtue, your virtue with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with patience, your patience with piety, your piety with fraternal love, your fraternal love with charity. For if you possess these virtues and they abound in you, they will render you neither inactive nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks them is blind, groping his way, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, strive even more by good works to make your calling and election sure. For if you do this, you will not fall into sin at any time. Indeed, in this way will be amply provided for you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1: 5-11).