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What Deserts Are You Facing This Lent?

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What Deserts Are You Facing This Lent?

I remember the best Lent I ever had. That year, I noticed on the First Sunday of Lent a phrase in the story of Jesus’ temptation: “ … he remained in the desert” (Mark 1:13). 

This phrase struck me because there were situations in my life at the time that were very desert-like, in the sense of feeling empty and desolate. So my Lent became a time of remaining with Jesus in that desert. Lent was not usually my favorite time of the liturgical year, but I was surprised to find myself “enjoying” this particular Lent because I felt so immersed in the season. Somehow, even though the difficult things in my life didn’t get any better, I felt less miserable about them because they helped me remain in the desert with Jesus. Actually, it began with me trying to remain with Jesus, but in the end I realized that He was remaining with me. 

By the time the next Lent came around, the situations had changed and life was not so bleak. I almost felt disappointed! Of course, even though I didn’t have the external motivation of a desert in my life, I could still remain with Jesus in the desert. 

It seems to me that there are three intersecting “deserts” for us to remain in: The first is Jesus’ desert where he was tempted for forty days, along with the “desert” of his passion and death. We “remain” in the desert with Jesus in our prayer and meditation, such as when we pray the Stations of the Cross or read the passion accounts in the Gospels. In this kind of prayer, time melts away, and we can be with Jesus in his agony in the garden, or as he carries the cross, not simply remembering a past event, but remaining with Jesus in his suffering. 

The second is our own desert of whatever kinds of difficulties, illness, loneliness, or confusion we are facing in our life. We remain in this desert when we do not try to escape, but instead live through the sufferings by uniting them with the sufferings of Jesus. 

And the third is the vast desert of the sufferings of the world—all the people who are living through untold difficulties, heartbreak, injustice, desperation, tragedy, and pain. It’s hard to remain in this desert for long. But we are called to do just that—by our prayer, solidarity, and whatever action we are called to do to help. 

What deserts are you facing this Lent? Perhaps you will spend time in all of them. Wherever we remain, Jesus is there with us. 

Sr Maria Grace Dateno

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Comments

  • Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog! eedeaefeafge
    8/11/2014 6:25:33 AM Reply
  • Thank you for sharing this with me. During this time of lent I look at my sins, the attitudes of others, with dispair and forget that Heaven has got this one, always and every a time. the desert that it has created by the injustices of peoples hate and interference of others have cause our God know matter what your CREED CALLS HIM TO WEEP EVER DAY, LIKE THE RAIN, POURING AND BEGGING US PLEASE BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. How it starves fresh, thoughts. How it creates negativity and creates us to have conflicts with my Brothers and Sisters of the Lord. How My Angels sometimes models those negative behaviors. I pray that this lent all negative gets changed to a positive, all darkness gets illuminated by the Lords Light. I pray that as Parents, as their Is One God that we strive to find the Positive in Ourselves and build a positive parenting style, regardless to our creed. Trough the intercession of All the Holy Prophets: Abraham, Moses, and Jacob I pray for peace among the Creeds of Abraham and the Parents who have Children of two Creeds of Abrahamic Faiths: Jewish, Muslim or Christians. That their is the peace that the Lord intents us to have and make the Lord God proud of His People, Amen
    3/5/2014 11:45:41 AM Reply
  • Sister Maria Grace says, "We remain in this desert when we do not try to escape..." I realize that remaining in the desert rather than trying to continuously fight to extricate myself and escape from troubles and woes will be a better path to take this Lent. I could not be in better company in the desert than with Jesus, uniting my struggles with His.
    3/1/2014 9:16:23 AM Reply
  • Sr. Maria Grace's comments about the desert are very timely, given Ash Wednesday next week begins Lent. Her comments were very meaningful regarding deserts. When you think of the challenges life throws at you in terms of deserts, it is very helpful in getting through them. There are deserts you can't avoid, so a perspective on how to get through them is useful.
    3/1/2014 7:50:29 AM Reply

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