By Ginny Schaeffer, director of the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality


You are my beloved.

—Mark 1:11

We spend most of Advent preparing for Christmas – decorating, buying gifts, baking, wrapping gifts. We spend most of Holy Week preparing for Easter – shopping, coloring eggs, baking. All of this for just one day. Granted, these are the two great feast days of the Church and should be celebrated with rituals, remembrance and loved ones gathered around a table laden with food.

Have you ever thought about preparing for Lent? That’s a whole season – forty days. You might think, “Yeah, but what’s there to prepare for? It’s just forty days of giving up something I enjoy – candy, beer, Facebook, meat on Fridays.”

There is, of course, much more to Lent than what we “give up.” But I am getting ahead of myself here.

We base Lent on the “40 days” Jesus spent in the wilderness, tempted by the evil one, without food, alone, with only wild animals to keep him company. How did Jesus prepare for this “retreat?” He didn’t pack any bags. He didn’t seem to make any arrangements. We don’t even know if he said goodbye to anyone. The scriptures tell us he was driven by the Spirit – and we are not talking Uber here – into the wilderness.

So how did Jesus prepare? Perhaps the better question might be “How was he prepared?”

The scriptures tell us that just prior to Jesus’ leaving everyone and everything behind to enter the wilderness, he had a profound experience that was literally life changing. He was baptized by his cousin John; and, as he came up out of the water “…he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, he heard a voice: ‘You are my son, chosen and marked by me love, pride of my life.’” (Mark 1: 11)

How might Jesus’ experience in the wilderness been different had he not been rooted and grounded in the absolute, infinite and unconditional love of the One he called Abba? Hunger and loneliness can leave us in a very weakened state. What empowered him to go toe-to-toe with the evil one and not cave? Is it possible that Jesus’ power was the deep heart knowledge, not just head knowledge, of God’s love and his identity as the beloved son of Abba?

And, what if Jesus’ experience of God’s unconditional love and the words he heard claiming him as God’s beloved, chosen and marked by Infinite Love aren’t also meant for each one of us? Not that we must have the same experience as Jesus. I’ve never had that kind of experience. I have never seen the sky split open and God’s Spirit alight on me like a dove. I have, however, known God’s love through the actions, the kindness, the words, the presence of other human beings, the beauty and grandeur of nature and even in the stillness of my own heart.

It is the experience of knowing in our heart-of-hearts that we are each loved unconditionally by the One who is love. It is knowing in our heart-of-hearts that each one of us is a beloved child, a direct descendant of the Source of all that is, was and ever will be. It is knowing in our heart-of-hearts that each one of us is chosen and marked by the Lover of us all and that each one of us is the pride and delight of the Eternal.

As we enter this season, this journey that is Lent, let us do so grounded and rooted in the reality of who we are, remembering that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God’s love and that we are, indeed, God’s pride and joy.


  • Each day recall an experience of being loved. Remember it in as much detail as possible. Allow the feelings of love you experienced then to well up again within you. Then, remind yourself that God is the source of all love.
  • Begin each day writing these words in your journal or on a piece of paper you will carry with you throughout the day:

I am God’s child, created in the image of and reflecting the nature of

the Divine.

I am chosen and marked by the love of God.

I am the pride and delight of God.

         Allow yourself to ponder these words, soaking in their reality like you would

         a hot bath, relaxing and giving into the truth of who you fundamentally are.

  • Do something kind and loving towards another. It doesn’t have to be big, and it wouldn’t hurt if it was anonymous. Remember, “It is in loving that we are loved.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written
            You shall worship the Lord, your God,
                        and him alone shall you serve.
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
            He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
            With their hands they will support you,
            lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
            You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

Lk 4:1-13