The fifth Lenten reflection: Fr. Stanko Mabić, OFM on trials and temptations– part II

date: 22.03.2021.

In the fifth Lenten reflection, and the third that Fr. Stanko Mabić prepared, he spoke more about trials and temptations and in the beginning referred to St. Joseph who ''was also tested”.

''God spoke to him in a dream and said: Rise, take a child and his mother, flee to Egypt, Herod is going to destroy the child (cf. Mt 2:13). This is a real trial. If I was in Joseph’s place, I would have said probably: Lord, you who are mighty, you who separated the Red Sea, you who create all and no one is like you, how can it be that some Herod can destroy your Son, can’t you stop him? How would I flee now on a donkey, it is a long journey through the desert…This is a real trial. My thoughts would have opposed the Lord, for sure. Lord, is that really you who speak to me, is that your Son? If you cannot defend Him, who can? But Joseph does not say a word, he does not oppose, he does not ask any questions, not where to go, how, or why, he takes a mother and a child and goes to Egypt, as God told him to do. Joseph was silent, he reflected on the word of God, he knew how to recognise it and he was obedient to it to the end'', said Fr. Stanko Mabić and shared the example of our Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, with whom ''at the same time we have a trial and temptation.”

''God asked of him to remain faithful to His Church, to his people. Stepinac knew he was going to be persecuted if he remained faithful, he knew he would lose freedom, perhaps die as a martyr, that his people would suffer…this was hard to be accepted, a bitter chalice. On the other hand, if he accepted what the communist party asked of him, he was to get all the privileges, honours, respect and goods of this world… He stood in between those two offers, it was a trial and temptation at the same time. He knew how to choose a trial, regardless of the price. He could not have done that if he had not lived sacred life from his early age, surrendering his heart to God and listening to His word”, said Fr. Stanko, who then explained some of the everyday trials.

''A mother conceives a child, later on ultrasound discovers that a child is special needs child, that it has Down syndrome – something that makes many mothers abort their children as they are not prepared to accept them, these children are more demanding, they need to work more with them, they cannot accept their looks…this is a trial. They think they would no longer have time for them, for their own leisure, entertainment...travelling…it is challenging decision. Doctors say, the child is not healthy, it would be best to abort such child. Such mothers are also facing trials and temptations.

All of the families who received news about their children having Down Syndrome wondered: How are we going to handle such a child, are we going to be able to do that? This is a real trial, but many families, nearly all I know who have those children, received many blessings with them. Whenever these families happened to be in a crisis, it was these children that pulled them out. The blessings extended to the rest of the family too, for all of them accepted this trail that turned into the blessing'', said Fr. Stanko and continued that ''one of the greatest trials is apocalyptic trial”.

''There are many quotations from the Holy Scripture that speak about the trial that will be so much greater than we would be able to endure. This is the trial at the end of the world. Matthew 7, verses 15-20 and 24 that will be the time of great trials. There will be false prophets, false messiahs. Book of Revelation 3:10 says: „Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth“… it will be the time of great trial. They will hate disciples of Jesus, they will be surrendered to the „rulers and kings“ (Mt 10:18). Jesus is warning us: See that you not be deceived” (Lk 21:8), „Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.“ (Lk 21:36) The faith would disappear in the world, says Luke. „Because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold“ said Matthew in his Gospel (Mt 24:12).

Jesus here refers to the trial of the last times, the apocalyptic trial. Jesus does not say to us to pray for this anxiety not to take place, but he invites us to pray and not to persevere, to speak to Him all the time”, said Fr. Stanko and also spoke about the temptations, that comes from Satan and again mentioned the example of the Bl. Stepinac.

''We find the same situation with Alojzije Stepinac. Only if you place your signature, you will be granted all the benefits, but he did not sign, he did not talk to the source of his temptation, but only to His Lord.

We need clearly to know that Satan, devil, is not some stupid creature with horns and tail who scares people, he is profoundly intelligent creature who is very unhappy and lurks and seduces people. He is fallen angel, Lucifer, the one who seduces'', said Fr. Stanko Mabić and added that each saint is tortured by at least two devils, while the others have only one.

''In the other words: real trials and real temptations will occur when we radically decide to live for Jesus. Until we start living the Gospel, we would not have real trials nor real temptations. At the end he quoted St. Augustine: „In the holy baptism, you shall leave the sin behind, not the lust, you need to fight against it. The fight between good and evil remains in you, your main enemy is in you, not outside of you.“

In the end, Fr. Stanko explained to us how to fight those temptations.

''Let us see how Jesus did that and showed us the way. Jesus did not go to the desert out of his curiosity or ambition. As soon as he was baptised on river Jordan, the Holy Spirit took him to the desert. So, I am going where the Spirit takes me, not my human and wounded spirit, broken with lust, original sin and easy to be seduced. I shall go where the Holy Spirit takes me. Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days, he spoke with His Heavenly Father. The way to resist temptations is to surrender to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to listen to His encouragements, not those of my nature, wounded by sins. The way is to pray and fast and we would have all the strength we need. Let us pray to Jesus not to deliver us from every temptations or every trial, but to remain with us in our trials. When we are trialed, we would come out stronger and that is why those trials are sent by God to us.

I shall finish with Psalm 16(15),8-9

I keep the Lord always before me, with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices, my body also dwells secure.

The entire Lenten reflection of Fr. Stanko Mabić, accompanied by music of Fr. Zvonimir Pavičić is available HERE.