The desert and the devil

Our salvation deepens every time we say yes to Jesus. We experience the peace of knowing that we are loved, forgiven, and reconciled with God. We know the joy of encountering Jesus in prayer and receiving his life in the Eucharist.“ Word Among Us Meditation, 2-17-23

Oh my Jesus. I had the most powerful wave of disbelief wash over me as I was preparing for bed. Disbelief in the importance of Your Real Presence in the Eucharist. A questioning of the church’s teaching. A skepticism. A momentary distrust, maybe, in our priests and their emphasis on teachings of Your Real Presence in the host we receive at Mass.

And maybe not just not believing in Your presence, but rather believing the church and its priests have too often made up a bunch of ceremonies and duties that are not necessary for either our salvation or our faith in You.

I guess this isn’t a new struggle for me. It was my primary stumbling block as I was discerning coming into the church. Last night (thank You, Lord), You reminded me quickly enough that Satan was nearby, ever-ready to take advantage of my vulnerability and continuing ignorance to devour me and my faith.

Through Your grace, I recalled, belatedly, that earlier that same morning I had gone to church with the intention of giving my confession. Upon arriving and finding the priest would not be present for confessions, I left. Rather than remain a few more minutes and participate in morning Mass — receive Your Real body and blood into my own, celebrate with You the joy of my salvation — I instead turned around and just went home. I dismissed almost without regard, the opportunity to be with You and share Your precious gift of grace in the most intimate way we are given in this life.

The devil’s been quiet for a while now, but in context, this jarring experience is hardly surprising. The Father of Lies perceived a chink in my faith. A care-lessness. Ever lurking, always alert, he watched my legitimately shameful act and took advantage of it. And there it is, a constant reminder of my need to stay close to You — choose You first, cherish You without reserve, and remember, finally, that the Mass…Oh my sweet Jesus…

The Mass is that time to take Your real body and blood into me.
A time to suspend all my worldly cynicism —
if only for those few moments — and believe.
And in believing, say ‘yes’ with my whole heart.
And in saying ‘yes,’ again and again and again,
cooperating with You, as You transform me into a temple.
A holy place, worthy of Your Holy Spirit.

The Mass is a time for submitting to You.
A time to allow You to lift me from all my worldly desires and distractions,
those material densities that obscure the pure light of Your love.
It’s a time to allow You to prepare me gently, gradually, finally, and wholly,
for eternity with You in Your Kingdom.
It’s a time to be nothing more than obedience itself,
As I answer ‘yes’ to Your call.

Help me, Jesus.
I believe. Please help my unbelief.
Take evil’s darkness and illuminate it with the light of Your love.


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