February 21, 2021
The desert is a dry, barren, desolate place without life. This homily reflects on the lives of great saints who encountered an interior desert of the soul, but also experienced a purification and transformation through the graces of the Holy Spirit.
- 40 days of Lent is an invitation or call from God to experience the desert and to lead us to a closer union with Him.
- Mother Teresa’s letters reveal an experience of interior life that was empty of God in her soul and was tempted by many doubts.
- Therese, the Little Flower, experienced some dark temptations towards the end of her life.
- John of the Cross spoke on the dark night of the soul for purification.
- Satan takes advantage of our vulnerable desert periods to attack us and tell us that God doesn’t love us, that He rejects us or He doesn’t exist.
- The Holy Spirit leads us into the desert to bring us closer in union with God and to the Promise Land – Heaven.
The desert is important in scripture. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert and remained there for 40 days, tempted by Satan. The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert. A surprising example of being in the desert is Mother Teresa. She had a series of mystical experiences of the Lord, in which He revealed to her that He wanted her to start a new congregation, the congregation of the Missionaries of Charity. She believed in these manifestations and she responded to the Lord, but the mystical experiences stopped. Mother Theresa was seen as so cheerful, with such a deep faith, but she was often experiencing an interior life which was very dry, very barren, without consolation, and being tempted by many doubts. It was a very difficult time, but she began to sense that she could take the sufferings as a sense of consolation because of the sacrifice she was offering. And so, she also went through a sense of abandonment.
So, with the example of Mother Teresa, we can see that the desert is a place of transformation, of change, of opportunity. It’s a death, but a death which leads to union with God. As we begin Lent, it is our invitation to enter into the desert. Lent this year is a very trying, hard time, but can also be a purification, a place of transformation on the way to union with God.