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Unresisted Temptation can Destroy you, as seen on T.V. !

March 28, 2014

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The fight against temptation is a key Lenten theme and, of course, one that extends to each day of our life if we are going to be serious followers of the Lord.

There is something rather mysterious about temptation. We are often strangely drawn to things that harm us, and even knowing this, we still feel the attraction. Deep within, we hear the warnings of conscience, but still we move toward sin and to many things that we know are both wrong and dangerous. How strange we are!

Theologians have used the word “concupiscence” to describe our inordinate attractions or desires, and it is the surest evidence that something is deeply and desperately wrong with us. It describes a condition wherein our “cupio” (our “desires”) are off the charts, over the top, and just plain unruly. So easily do our passions want to simply overrule the most basic common sense and draw us into utter foolishness and self-destruction.

Back in the late 1980s, it became fashionable in some circles to deny Original Sin and dismiss it as a mere myth. Once when a radicalized nun told me that she did not “believe” in original sin, I responded, “Are you kidding?!” Of all the teachings of the Church, there is perhaps none with so much daily evidence as to its veracity. I instructed the good sister to go and buy a newspaper and, after having read its daily recitation of violence, corruption, confusion, disorder, war, and greed (and that’s just page one), to explain to me what on earth is so desperately wrong with us. “If it isn’t Original Sin, Sister, what the devil is it?!”

Yes, we seem to have a screw loose. Call it what you will: concupiscence, our fallen nature, the flesh; yes, call it what you will, but don’t call it non-existent. It is something to be quite sober about. Our desires are out of whack and need daily discipline. Otherwise, the devil can get us with many different lures.

The Catechism advises:

Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis [the practice of self-discipline] adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer (# 2340).

Well said. We do well to remember the following:

  • Self-knowledge can be gained by learning some of the deeper drives within us, naming them, learning their moves, and developing strategies to limit their inordinate influence.
  • The practice of self-discipline is essential in growing stages. The Lenten practice of self-denial is a form of this. So is taking on new duties and requirements when we are becoming lax.
  • Obedience begins with a careful listening to God’s commandments and asking for a teachable spirit that rejoices in the truth.
  • Virtue is a “good habit” and habits only develop through repeated effort. Practice makes goodness easier and eventually almost effortless.
  • Prayer too, which at its heart is simply paying attention to God, is also an essential remedy.

Battle temptation! Otherwise, you are easy pickings for the devil; you’re low hanging fruit and you’ll easily be snatched away.

This video is a good allegory for temptation. A certain young man is drawn by a lure. And though seeming to sense the danger he draws closer anyway. The frightening result I leave to your viewing “pleasure.”

What are some of the lures Satan can use to snatch you away? What are some of the ways you can learn to resist the bait that is dangled before you? How have you implemented the plan that the Catechism sets forth? Where have you done well? Where do you need to improve?

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Comments (15)

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  1. Maggie Goff says:

    I have this passage highlighted in my “Imitation of Christ” : For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the strong imagination, afterwards, pleasure, evil affection, assent. And so little by little the enemy entereth in altogether, because he was not resisted at the beginning. And the longer a man delayeth his resistance, the weaker he groweth, and the stronger groweth the enemy against him.

    I read it often. I *know* it is true.

  2. Charlie says:

    I gave up on Toyota for this and other reasons some years ago….

  3. Marg says:

    We have to fight sin by doing the opposite to what we feel like doing. Let it be our daily challenge. I think also in the ‘Imitation of Christ’ there is a chapter on grace versus nature. Our Lady asks us to fast, which is also character building. Once we can resist food, or whatever else we enjoy, we can also resist the temptation of falling into sin……………………

  4. Black says:

    So is it wrong to do the lotto to want money to buy a house to pay for good education …………. ” For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the strong imagination, afterwards…………….” Not all that comes to mind the simple suggestion then strong imagination leads to evil……………………

    An informed Christian Conscious Obey the ten commandments and following the Teachings of Holy Roman Catholic Church – am I wrong are any of us wrong to still do the lotto – – – – For first cometh to my mind the simple suggestion and the strong imagination……….. ???? is that my family could live better in a Calvinistic Society one that the Church and State supports

    • This is an old post so I am not sure exactly what you are reacting to. However, things like lotto etc are often used as allegories of sin even if not intrinsically evil. While one might just have a little fun playing lotto, it can also represent a desire to get rich, which the Bible warns against. At the end of the day though I think the image here is allegorical, not categorical.

  5. Marg says:

    I don’t think it’s wrong to want to buy a house – we do have to have somewhere to live. We can become over scrupulous and not balanced any more. But we do have to fight our own nature. I don’t think Lotto is wrong either. If we win we can share our winnings with those who are poor and needy. We always have to look at our own motives. Prayer is so much a part of all of this. Through prayer we can overcome – God will give us the grace to overcome our tendencies to sin. But I do believe that we will battle with this constantly through our lives. But we know that we have a good and merciful God to help us, and He will guide us always to the truth and help us to stay on the right path……

  6. StatVeritas says:

    Good easy to read article reminding us on temptation and what we can do to fight it.

    I thought the video was a great choice to go with the article that’s exactly how the devil works, he presents an illusion and we fall for it.

  7. Marianne says:

    My son just lost a dear friend overdose of heroin. Definitely an example of in resisted temptation
    So many of his friends and family are so devestaded!
    Thank you for this insightful article.
    M Finn
    Boston
    MA

  8. Marianne says:

    Above self corrected should read
    An example of unresisted temptation

  9. Mary says:

    Here is a prayer to say when tempted to resist temptation.

    “Jesus died for me to resist temptation” also holding a crucifix while praying

  10. kate Barry-Murphy says:

    Little Nellie died at the age of four in Cork in Ireland. Because of her, the Pope made the Eucharist for younger children to receive. We would love her as our Patron for the protection of children against Euthanasia. (See Little Nellie Oran of Holy God).

  11. kate Barry-Murphy says:

    We would love to have Little Nellie Organ, as our Patron with St. Joseph, in the protection of our children against Euthanasia. Is this possible, when she has not been beatified.

  12. Sixtus says:

    Yes, this is very good and is very fruitful but if we can get the Seminarists, Priests and Bishops to adhere to this basic rule. For example with Homosexual Clergy and Homosexuals who are allowed to be come Priests. Those Bishops that are Homosexual and allow Homosexuals in the Seminary with a wink of an eye. This disordered passions we see have resulted in innocent children Catholics have their world turned upside down. Their innocence lost by a Priest who illicitly have been ordained under the pretext of being Hetrosexual their for in Mortal Sin at ordination with full consent of the Bishop. What I’m trying to get across is Homosexual Priest because of the disordered passion can not fight off the temptations which puts adolescent children in danger and the Catholic Church. This also has coated the Catholic Church billions of dollars that came from the faithful parishioners donated money. These Homosexual Priests and Bishops are still active in the Church yet nothing has been done to defrock them there for I hope they have read a very good expression on how Temptations work in the conscious of the soul. Thank you! God Speed.