Lesson 43: Our Spiritual Battle
1. What is a temptation to sin?
A temptation is a desire to do something, which appears in some way to be good, but is really evil.
No one is going to be tempted to do something that does not appear good or attractive. For instance, most people are not going to be tempted to cut off their feet, since to most people this does not appear to be in any way good.
Some people are tempted to steal an expensive pair of shoes, since having the shoes appears to them to be a good.
Instead of leading to happiness, sin leads ultimately to misery. The sinner is always deceived.
2. How can we be strengthen not to sin?
We can keep from committing sin by:
- Praying more and praying better
- Being devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Receiveng the Sacrmaent of Confession frequently
- Receiving as often as possible Holy Communion: “Frequent Holy Communion is the shortest and surest way to Heaven.” (St. Pius X)
- Keeping occupied with work or play: according to St. Bonaventure those who keep themselves busy are only tempted by one devil; but those who are lazy are surrounded by a multitude of evil spirits.
- Being joyful: after venial sin nothing is so damaging to the spiritual life as sadness. Sadness and discouragement serve no useful purpose, and is a source of many temptations.
- Doing sacrifices and acts of mercy.
- Being mindful that our body and soul are temples of the Holy Trinity; and that God is always with you.
- Avoiding the near of occasions of sin.
3. What is a near occasion of sin?
Near occasions of sin are all persons, places, or things that may easily lead us to sin.
- We must avoid all near occasions of sin.
- To enter into an occasion of sin is already a sin.
- Entering into an occasion of sin shows God that we are willing to hurt Him in order to please ourselves: “He who loves danger will perish in it.” (Sirach 3:25)
4. What should we do when we are tempted.
When we are tempted we should first of all say a prayer.
Then, it is often good to do exactly the opposite of what we are tempted to do.
- If you do not feel like praying, pray a little harder.
- If you feel discouraged, start to praise and thank God.
- If you feel like hiding something from your parents, tell them about it immediately.
- If you remember something hurtful that someone said to you, and you want to get revenge, immediately begin to pray for that person.
- If you feel like bragging about something that you did really well: be silent, and talk to another person about what he’s been doing.
- If you feel like doing something poorly because of laziness, put forth more effort than normal.
- If you feel like not going to Mass, come 15 minutes early and say a rosary.
- If you feel anger, be silent, pray, and go off by yourself. When you are calmed down, then you can reflect and say something calmly.
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837)
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi made a list of what she had to do every day. She then thought about what she least wanted to do on her list. She would then do what she least wanted to do first, because she realized that the desire not to do it was a temptation. In acting directly against the temptation, she defeated it.
5. If we fall into sin, what should we do?
If we fall into sin we should immediately ask Jesus for forgiveness, and joyfully begin again. We should immediately make the proposal, “I will never sin again;” or as St. Dominic Savio said, “Death, rather than sin,”
Jesus is more hurt by our not trusting in his mercy, than he is by our sins. We must not give into sadness or discouragement, because this hurts Jesus. St. Therese of Lisieux the night before her First Holy Communion made the proposal, “I will never give into discouragement.”
St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897)
St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) fond it difficult to get along with a certain sister in her religious community. When Therese was tempted to think of her faults, she would pray for the sister and think of her good points. St Therese then sought to be even kinder than normal to the sister. She even dedicated a poem to her. Therese was able to act so well against the temptation to be impatient that the sister came to think that Therese was especially fond of her. Shortly after her death, this sister wrote a little work entitled the Memoirs of a Holy Friendship, in which she wrote of Therese’s joy every time she went to see her in the infirmary.
St Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
St Francis of Assisi at the beginning of his conversion was spending a long time in prayer. One day when he came out of prayer he saw an old hunchbacked women. He heard a sinister voice tell him “You’re going to end up just like her if you continue this way of life.” At that moment young Francis felt a great repugnance for the life of prayer that he had just begun. HE did not feel like praying and giving his life to God anymore. He realized that this was a temptation, so he acted against it. He immediately asked God for the strength and then went back to pray even longer.