In Lent we follow our Lord into the desert; not the literal desert of Palestine, but the desert which will surround us whenever we deny ourselves some of the comforts and props of life. Such comforts, though not wrong in themselves, can become barriers. By stripping some of them away, we make more space, clear more ground, for a closer encounter with the Lord. When we enter into spiritual solitude, we shall certainly find temptation. Do not be discouraged. When you are in the desert, you will not be alone.  You will be there in the unseen company of countless  angels and saints, whose joy it is to help us poor sinners as we feebly struggle. Struggle we may, but we do not struggle alone.

In the silence and emptiness of the desert, we shall certainly hear the uncouth and menacing sounds of the Evil one, prowling around looking for souls to devour. But we must remember that the victory has already been won. Satan is threatening, but he is not omnipotent. He is clever and cunning, but not so clever as to impede the workings of grace.  All we have to do is to place ourselves unambiguously under the banner of Christ’s Precious Blood. Whenever and wherever that Precious Blood is invoked, Satan slinks away, in confusion and defeat.

We should not be discouraged. We need to remember that so long as we are resisting temptation, however strong it might be, we are committing no sin. Temptation, however powerful, is not of itself sinful unless we encourage it. So long as we are struggling we are still on the side of the angels, and the Precious Blood can do its healing work. Do not be disconcerted by the strength of our temptations. We live in a fallen world. The Devil never sleeps. Our soul is wounded, and easily skewed.

At Mass, every time the words of consecration are said over the chalice, the Precious Blood comes pouring in to it. Christ’s Blood is streaming in the firmament, and also down into the chalice. Then we raise up that living Blood in the chalice and offer it before the throne. From that throne, at every Mass, the Father’s mercy can once again engulf a sinful world.

First the Blood, then the Mercy.