The First Sunday of Lent – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcast

The First Sunday of Lent – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

For the first Sunday of Lent, Msgr. Esseff reflects on Jesus’ desert retreat, relating it to Lent’s call for repentance, prayer, and fasting. He shares his own desert fasting experience, emphasizing the Holy Spirit’s role in awakening awareness of sin. He also warns against spiritual pride and emphasizes humility in recognizing God’s grace and the Lenten journey’s focus on repentance, prayer, and embracing God’s mercy.

Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Connection to Jesus’ Desert Experience: How does Jesus’ 40-day retreat in the desert parallel the Lenten season, particularly in terms of prayer, fasting, and resisting temptation?
  2. Personal Reflection on Fasting: Reflecting on Msgr. Esseff’s fasting experience in the desert, how does fasting deepen spiritual awareness and intensify prayer?
  3. The Call to Repentance: What does Lent’s call to repentance mean in your life? How does the Holy Spirit’s role in awakening awareness of sin manifest during this season?
  4. Understanding Spiritual Pride: In what ways can spiritual pride hinder our Lenten journey? How can we cultivate humility in recognizing God’s grace and avoiding self-centeredness?
  5. Embracing God’s Mercy: Reflecting on God’s infinite mercy, how does Lent provide an opportunity to deepen our understanding of God’s love and forgiveness?
  6. The Lenten Journey’s Focus: How can we refocus our Lenten journey on repentance, prayer, and embracing God’s mercy, amidst the distractions and temptations of daily life?

Mk 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  Msgr. Esseff served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St. Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by Pope St. John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world, especially to the poor.   He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests, sisters, seminarians, and other religious leaders around the world.    

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