The joy of this Laetare Sunday is only really experienced by those who have made some efforts during this first half of Lent. They have had to force themselves to remain faithful to their Lenten resolutions and they still have to do so for twenty more days. They must continue to resist the attractions of the flesh and the spirit of the world. Lent is not an easy way for those who choose to take it. They declared war on themselves, desirous of taming their rebellious flesh, so that they can free their spirit. The true liberty of the spirit means to be freed from the passions of the flesh. But, many think the opposite: they believe that freedom is the physical ability to do what they want.
If my dog could speak, she would probably say the same thing, because she has no ability to reason. For a dog, liberty - if we can truly speak about liberty - would be to follow its instincts. In other words, for a dog, liberty would consist in satisfying its biological functions, which are the sustenance of the individual by eating and of the species by the reproduction.
Original sin has caused us to also live as animals, in that, we live solely, and driven by, our biological needs and urges. A French saying tells: Qui fait l'ange, fait la bête! - which means, whoever wants to act as an angel, in the end acts as an animal. Desiring to raise themselves to the rank of God by having the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve fell and lost the supremacy of their reason. Now, every man on earth feels this internal tension that even Saint Paul had and called the law of sin. The great Apostle recognized that even he didn't do the good which he wanted and did the evil which he didn't want.
Spiritual persons suffer in this condition and want to be freed from the body. The carnal persons make the best of it and follow their instincts in order to enjoy life as much as they can. To speak bluntly, their life is essentially about food and sex, as it is for an animal: sustenance of the body and of the species, except that men have abused the proper use of these biological functions and diverted from their proper end, especially in regards to sexuality.
Dear brethren, we are all made with the same natural instincts and so we all have to struggle with the same temptations to greater or lesser degrees. We are all tempted by the flesh and the flesh is threatened by gluttony, laziness, lust, pride, anger, envy and covetousness; what we call the seven deadly sins. At first, they are just temptations, and I remind you that a temptation is not a sin because it doesn't involve your will. A sin is a personal act of a human person. That means an act which involves your intelligence and your will. A temptation is an inclination towards the flesh - when I use the term flesh, I use it the in the manner of Saint Paul. In this way, it does not, necessarily, mean the physical body, but rather something that leads to sin such as a sin of pride.
So, we are all tempted. But there are some Christians who take their spiritual life seriously and act upon the knowledge that the grace of God is more important than the satisfaction of natural instincts. When faced with a temptation, they use the means and the weapons given by God in order to conquer it. This attitude presupposes a regular life of prayer and of mortification. Recall the epistle of Septuagesima Sunday. A sportsman has to train for the victory. How can you resist the temptation of gluttony if you don't fast on occasion? How can you resist the temptation of impurity if you never mortify your senses? How can you resist the temptation of pride if you never accept the humiliations of the life?
Others Christians don't really care about their spiritual life. They think that a sin is not very serious, and that they can just go to confession later. They seem to forget that confession removes the guilt, but not all the consequences of sins. They still must make reparation, and not only in the case of a sin against justice. If they don't make reparation now, they will make reparation in purgatory, that is, if they die without a mortal sin on their souls. But for these people, dying with a mortal sin on their souls is a real possibility and danger because since they don't mortify their flesh and don't strengthen their will, they will fall at the first temptation.
Dear Brethren, if you belong to the first category of Christians, those who use well the time of Lent for the good of their souls, you can really enjoy this Sunday, knowing that your efforts are not vain. You are working for the salvation of your souls, with the help of grace, and I can only encourage you to continue.
If you belong to the other category, may God have mercy on you. You have to choose between God and the world. There is no compromise possible. I can only tell you that you should change your life and start to follow Jesus Christ. You have nothing to loose except your temporal interests. But what do you prefer?
May Our Lady help us to continue our Lenten efforts so that we can enjoy the Solemnity of Easter to the fullest by contemplating Our Lord in His glory. But now, we are still on the way of the Cross, which is the way of life and truth.