My Beloved the benevolent March 2022
Grace and peace, wishing you a blessed fasting period, and a holy life with the grace of our Good Lord, Who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Feasts (and other times when we pray in the joyful tune) are times of spiritual joy with the work of our God; but what about the Great Lent? The Great Lent is a special spiritual time which is called the spring of the spiritual life, and if we go deeper into this time, our hearts will rejoice and be filled with inexpressible joy (1Pt. 1:8).
1- Joy of trusting in God: On the first Sunday of the Great Lent, the Church presents us with Christ’s call not to care about the affairs of this world, rather, to rely on God who takes care of all our needs. Our Good Lord tells us, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matt. 6:26 Stress and anxiety take away joy from a person’s heart; thus, affecting our physical health and potentially afflicting us with many conditions and ailments due to the stress. The book of Proverbs talks about anxiety, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Prov. 12:25. At the beginning of the fast, the Church invites us to remove from our hearts stress and anxiety, and to place our trust in our good God, who tells us, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt. 6:31-34
2- Joy of victory over Satan: The Lord Jesus allowed Satan to tempt Him in order to defeat him and chart for us the way of victory over Satan. The first man was defeated by Satan, and his descendants came under his bondage. The second Adam came and triumphed over Satan and gave victory over Satan to all those who believed in Him. The defeat of the first man led to the grief of humanity, and the victory of the second Adam granted joy and peace to humanity. Satan does not stop trying to tempt man, but we do not fear him because the way of victory has become clear to us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Heb. 4:15-16 “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Heb. 2:18
3- Joy of repentance: Repentance involves sadness over sins, but also joy in forgiveness and acceptance in the fatherly bosom, “For Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2Cor. 7:10 The fasting time is a time of spiritual strife. A striving man may fall, but repentance is the cure for the fall. Fall causes sadness but repentance grants joy. The Prodigal Son fell as he asked for his inheritance; went to a distant land, spent his money on an extravagant life, and lost everything. But he offered repentance and returned to his father and his return was a great cause for celebration and joy, “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” Lu. 15:22-24
Repentance gives joy and peace to the repentant. In the story of the repentant woman who came to Christ in the house of Simon the Pharisee, washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, Christ our Lord told her, “Your sins are forgiven.” “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Lu. 7:48, 50 Heaven rejoices with the repentant, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Lu. 15:7
Not every repentance causes joy. True repentance comes from a sincere heart and firm hope. When Felix the Governor heard St. Paul the Apostle speaking of righteousness, self-control, and judgment which was to come, Felix was terrified and replied, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time, I will call for you.” Acts 24:25 Why did Felix panic? He must have remembered his sins, but he did not repent of these sins; so, he did not rejoice or benefit from the meeting with St. Paul the Apostle. Judas Iscariot regretted his actions and went to the high priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” “Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself.” Matt. 27:4-5 Why did he hang himself? Because he had no hope that God would accept his repentance because Satan had possessed him, and he died in his sin.
May God grant us true joy during this blessed time of fasting; and may our hearts always be filled with peace and joy. May God bless your gifts to support Santa Verena Charity programs.