In this series, Father Ian VanHeusen gives us a weekly spiritual exercise based on the Sunday Readings to help us grow in our relationship with the Lord.
What is a Spiritual Exercise, you ask? St. Ignatius of Loyola writes, “By the term “Spiritual Exercises” is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities.
For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”
We invite you to first prayerfully read this week’s Gospel reading, then watch the video, and finally go through the Spiritual exercise.
First Sunday in Lent Spiritual Exercise (Mt 4:1-11)
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
1) Do an Examination of Conscience for each of the three temptations of Christ. How do they play out in your life? What are your weak spots?
2) Create a plan to do a particular examination around each of these three areas. Write a plan of action.
3) Try and brainstorm at least one new habit that you can adapt this Lent. When deciding upon that habit, consider the following good habits:
a) Reading the Bible Daily
b) Daily Mental Prayer/ Meditation
c) Liturgy of the Hours
e) Daily Spiritual Reading
f) Reading the Catechism Daily
g) Making Time for Spiritual Friendship
h) Exercise and Physical Activity
i) Team Sports
j) Virtuous Activities such as Painting, Writing, Gardening, and Crafts
k) Volunteer Activities such as Community Service.
Don’t try to do all of them. Pray and Discern what you might be called to do. I recommend only trying one.
4) Have a conversation with Jesus about your areas of temptation and the habit that you feel called to adapt. Use this prayer sheet if needed.
If you would like to print out these questions, we have prepared a downloadable handout version of this Spiritual Exercise. Click the download button bellow.
Fr. VanHeusen’s Lenten Gospel Reflections:
First Sunday in Lent (Mt 4:1-11)
Second Sunday in Lent (Mt 17:1-9)
Third Sunday in Lent (Jn 4:5-42)
Fourth Sunday in Lent (Jn 9:1-41)
Fifth Sunday in Lent (11:1-45)