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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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The Spirit of Lent: 40 Days with Christ in the desert

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit

“At once the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert. He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mk 1:12-13)

The Church imagines the forty days of Lent as our annual forty days with Christ, a time of thought about our futures, a time of penance, a time of prayer.

These meditations are offered with emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in the divine plan of our redemption. When a startled Mary wondered how she could have a divine child, the angel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk 1:35) In the quiet ways of God, the power of the Holy Spirit has engineered the drama of human redemption down through the centuries.

And so, after the voice from heaven acknowledged his origins and mission, Jesus was rushed into the desert for forty days of prayer, austerity and temptation.

Does this voice from heaven ring in our ears? Is the Spirit hustling us into forty days of austerity with Christ? Or will this Lent slip by us as the stock market and Spring Training and the last days of winter chill our souls?

Every year, the Holy Spirit, in the quiet ways of God, invites us to join Christ in the desert. Without fanfare, the Spirit urges us to make these forty days special. The Spirit hopes that Easter will find us gaunt and reflective because of the austerity and meditation of Lent. The Spirit wants to breathe into us a new peace, a new dedication to God, a renewed love of our families and authentic self-development in our careers. The Spirit hopes to help us to triumph over the usual temptations by which Satan ensnares us.

Most of all, the Spirit of Peace, Christ’s great gift of forgiveness to the Church, hopes that we will feel the special healing and peace that will come in our Lenten Confession. This year, tens of millions of Catholics in Lithuania and Las Vegas and Laos will experience the special love of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit breathes away their sordid past and makes way for Christ’s peace.

“Lord send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” (cf. Ps 104:30) Let the Spirit renew you through the penance and peace of Lent 2013.

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.