I have been thinking a lot about temptation (and habits) as I enter my second year of working toward a healthier existence—wanting to better respect this temple of the Holy Spirit… So, all these questions about temptation and habits naturally come to the forefront as we consider the Lenten Season and its spiritual demands.
Last weekend I wrote about the idea of being holy; being perfect—a challenge to our Discipleship beyond fasting, almsgiving and prayer. One of the main ideas regarding the Lenten practice of fasting was to emulate what Jesus did in the desert. We fast and abstain in order to bring God to the forefront of our consciousness; to make God present in our everyday decisions—even about how much and what we eat. This practice is practice for learning to be sustained daily by God. The verse of our Gospel Acclamation this weekend is: “We do not live by bread alone, but we live by the words of our God.” Great statement…great ambition for growing in faith.
The questions in conversation between my husband and me were about what gets us through it all, every day? How do we turn from temptation? His answer to me was that first one needs to have a very simple habit: just get out of bed in the morning. Make a list and check stuff off order to start a productive day. So, ok, what sustains us when tempted by a soft pillow and a warm comforter? Or a bag of potato chips and television instead of working out? As we drilled down this subject together his answer to me was simple: faith. Faith that God will give him the grace to turn away from sin and temptation (because we do ask for it) and the grace to become new creations—the best version of ourselves that God intends us to be.
Today Jesus puts the Tempter in his place as he responds with the Word of God as his strength. He is the model to consider as we go forward in this season of conversion and transformation. Like Adam and Eve in the Genesis reading, we may fall, but St. Paul reminds us today that we will be made righteous—something to hang on to in our (many) dark and fallen (fattening and lazy) moments. Faith as a simple habit to stave off any and many temptations…
I know the beginning of this season is not actually the new year—although it is for me, personally. I understand that every day we have an opportunity to seek grace that will sustain us in those many tempting, difficult, sorrowful, thoughtless moments we encounter in our lives, families, work places and communities. So, I ask you: What sustains you? Is it your faith, your habits? Maybe now is the time to figure that out… May God grant us all the grace to be sustained in His Word!
Just a note: We fast from Alleluias and the Gloria during the season of Lent—and as we continue the tradition of Lent, we are reminded of other ancient ritual traditions, too: we will sing the Lord Have Mercy (Kyrie in Greek), and the Lamb of God in unaccompanied chant. For Forty Days and Fort Nights, we are Led By the Spirit to pray for the grace to Change Our Hearts and Return to God as Again We Keep This Solemn Fast!