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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Lenten War on Self – Are You Prepared for Battle?

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Lent, Mortification, Seasonal Meditations

Saint Paul would not likely find many friends in some corners of the Church today – nor would Jesus for that matter. Primarily because they use what our culture would consider harsh language when dealing with sin in the Christian life. Paul uses the language of an elite athlete, the language of self-discipline and severe mortification. Jesus uses very graphic and violent imagery when emphasizing the seriousness of sin and those who excuse it or who would deal with it in a passive manner. As we enter into Lent, it might be a healthy cultural detox for us to meditate on these difficult things and to better understand the mind of God on how we are to wage war against our sin…

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

St. Paul – 1 Corinthians Chapter 9

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus – St. Matthew Chapter 5

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

St. Paul – Hebrews Chapter 12

Since nature opposes what is good, I promise to declare a merciless war against myself. My weapons for the battle will be prayer, the practice of the presence of God, and silence. But, O my Life, You know that I am not skilled in handling these arms. Nevertheless, I will arm myself with sovereign confidence in You, with patience, humility, conformity to Your divine will, and supreme diligence. But where shall I find the aid I need to fight against so many enemies in such a continual battle? Ah! I know! You, my God, proclaim Yourself my Captain, and raising the standard of Your Cross, You lovingly say, ‘Come, follow Me; do not fear’

St Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus

Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him

Dan

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Art for this post on Lenten battle: The Anchorite, Teodor Axentowicz, 1881, PD-US author's term of life plus 75 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Rachel

    Thank you.

  • Cara

    We are but days into Lent, and, after being to our church’s Way of the Cross tonight, I’m overwhelmed with the “low” that lent is already. Are we to embrace the low to make the joy of Easter even greater, or is there still joy to be found in the 40 days of the Lenten journey? If it’s intended to be 40 days of all low, how do we prevent ourselves from being overcome with the grief and depression that accompanies our reflection of what Christ endured for us sinners, especially when our focus is on His suffering rather than His resurrection during this season?

    • Dear Cara in Christ. I think your questions are too important for a quick response here. I will provide a post on this this week.

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