We all probably heard the Scripture reading at the start of Lent that describes Jesus’s forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert. It’s a common Lenten reading, but it’s still applicable to the dating life of Catholic singles today!
Hopefully, most of us have heard at least some insight from homilies or extra reading to shed light on the deep theological significance of what is going on in that story.
Catholic singles can explore many different aspects of this particular gospel passage. However, Christ’s three temptations uniquely represent three different areas of temptation in the Catholic dating world today.
This idea can be fruitful for Catholics in all states of life to study or contemplate. But there’s a particular relevance for Catholic singles, who might already feel at times as if they’re in an endless desert of suffering, even when we’re not in Lent like we are now.
Here are three ways that the temptations of Jesus in the desert can be significant for Catholic singles.
The devil tempted Christ with desires of the flesh
“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread,” Satan said to Christ.
The devil came to tempt Jesus with the fulfillment of a fleshly desire for food. A desire for food is good. It’s a natural desire that all people have! But Satan tempts Christ to break his fast and make food for himself in a circumstance that God did not ordain.
It’s probably not too hard to see a correlation to other ways that Catholic singles might find themselves tempted to give in to bodily desires. But even though these desires might be good and natural, there is a time and place for them. There is a circumstance that God has ordained when it is holy to fulfill those desires.
Our bodily desire for sex is natural, and there is a circumstance in which God wants us to be able to fulfill it: marriage.
If Catholic singles look at the way that Christ answered this temptation from the devil, they can see what the response should be if they are tempted in their dating life to give in to bodily desire when it would be wrong to.
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God,” Christ told Satan.
If you’re faced with this temptation as a Catholic single, realize that you’re encountering desires. Your life doesn’t depend on fulfilling those desires right now. It’s much better in the long run if we follow God’s commandments about sex and marriage.
Satan tempted Jesus with worldly power and prestige
“I shall give to you all this power and their 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,” Satan told Christ. The devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world within a single instant.
There a few different angles of interpretation on just what the devil tempted Christ with here. However, the most obvious one is that it’s a temptation to worldly power and prestige.
In the lives of Catholic singles, this might take the form of a temptation to date only someone that would look prestigious in the eyes of the world.
Probably most of us won’t be tempted to this in a super obvious way. After all, we no longer live in a day and age where people talk about things like an “advantageous match” like they were in Jane Austen novels.
But even still, you could face the temptation to date selfishly. As a Catholic single, you may be tempted to search for someone who will impress others and possibly improve our social standing.
Jesus’ reply to the devil again tells us how we should reject such a temptation. “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve,” he told Satan.
If you face a temptation along these lines, you should always examine where your priorities are. Remind yourself to never make idols of things like prestige or the opinion of others.
Satan tempted Christ to behave pridefully
Finally, Satan tempted Christ by leading him to Jerusalem to the top of the Temple. “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,’ and, ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone,'” Satan said.
This temptation is a bit trickier to understand. But if we unpack it a little we can see that it’s a temptation to pride. It’s a particular kind of pride, a spiritual pride or presumption.
Satan tempted Christ to presume God will save him, even though the act Satan tried to make Christ perform were reckless and imprudent.
How does this apply to Catholic dating for Catholic singles today? One way you might encounter this type of temptation as a single Catholic is by presuming you won’t fall into sin.
It’s easy can start to become proud of any spiritual success you’ve experienced. You may even start to presume that you won’t be tempted like everyone else is.
That’s just not true.
This is the temptation to let your guard down on the issue of chastity. This is also a temptation to think you can navigate the path to virtue in a dating relationship without really working at it.
As you continue on your Lenten journey, keep in mind what Christ’s fasting looked like. Remember that if Christ was tempted in these ways, you most certainly can be as well.