Thursday, July 31, 2008
I feel tempted again to talk about "temptation". The past few days I was posting comments and reactions regarding a post I read about "befriending temptation" on another blog of a friend of mine. I did not agree with almost everything written on that particular topic with regard to "befriending temptation" in order to know oneself more because it almost sounded heretical to me. Everyone of course is entitled to his or her opinions, but Im posting a comment I made here and I stand by it. The picture above by the way depicts the temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas. In that temptation against his chastity, he was not able to flee like Joseph of the Old Testament but he fought fire with fire - literally and he succeeded. As a reward for his faithfulness to God, the Angels girded him with a chastity cord - sort of like a promise that he will never ever be subjected again to temptations against purity. (Wow, I want that chasitity cord as well. I badly need one now.)
"I like the article posted by AG. It's quite lengthy and very substantial. I agree with you that there is a difference between courting temptations and knowing that things that tempt you. My answer to that is I presume I am capable of committing and falling into any kind of sin and that by myself I am weak. Whether I can prove that assumption to be true or not will depend on me being in a particular situation, but knowing also that I am weak, it's prudent and wise to avoid even getting near temptations.I also want to point out something about being immune from temptations. I believe you can never ever be immunte from temptations and to claim that it will make you "stronger" after immersing yourself from it is senseless. In the physical realm, a vaccine can indeed prevent one from being sick from a particular type of disease, but in the spiritual realm there is no such thing as being immune from temptations or sins, that is why Christ exhorts us ALWAYS to pray and be vigilant lest we enter into temptations. It's an ongoing battle. Even Christ Himself was not "immune" from being tempted. Besides prayer and vigilance, I think mortification or denying oneself is a great aid too.Personally, I can say that for the past years of my life, I have realized somehow where I am most vulnerable. I can honestly say that I probably will never be addicted to smoking, alcohol, drugs, and gambling coz I hate them all personally. But never tempt me when it comes certain things like maybe food, sex, porn, or nude men because those things are my areas of weakness, and I need not indulge in them over and over again for me to know that I am weak in those areas. Those are the things that tempt me the most.I think that's all I can share. I rest my case here and hopefully I will not feel tempted to rebut the next time."
Lastly, I am also posting an article on temptation by the Fathers of the Church. I hope we can all learn from it:
Temptation is like a winter torrent, difficult to cross. Some, being most skilful swimmers, pass over, not being whelmed beneath temptations nor swept down by them at all, while others, who are not such, entering into them, sink in them. As, for example, Judas, entering into temptation of covetousness, swam not through it but, sinking beneath it, was choked both in body and spirit. Peter entered into the temptation of the denial but, having entered it, he was not overwhelmed by it but, manfully swimming through it, he was delivered.
Every temptation is a trial, and the issue of every trial has its fruit; for whereas a man is generally but little known even to himself, he knows not what he can bear and what he cannot bear and sometimes despairs of being able to bear what he can. Temptation comes as a kind of question, and the man is discovered of himself for to himself he was a secret but he was not a secret to his Maker.
"Watch and pray," said the Lord, "lest ye enter into temptation." What is it to "enter into temptation" but to depart from faith? For so temptation advances as faith gives way and so far temptation gives way as faith advances.
Many who have laid up much spiritual wealth from their youth and have arrived at middle age, when temptations arise against them by the machination of the evil one, have not succeeded in resisting the weight of the tempest but have lost all. Some concerning faith have made shipwreck; others have cast away the chastity treasured from youth under some sudden hurricane of sinful pleasure which has rushed upon them. A most piteous spectacle that a man, after self-denial, after fasting, after long prayer, after plentiful tears, after twenty or thirty years' devotedness, a man should, through an unwatchful spirit and carelessness, be made a show o, and stripped of all.
By merciful dispensation of the Creator, the soul that places confidence in itself is struck down by a providential temptation that, being brought low, it may find out what its failing is; for as soon as the mind feels the blow, the presumption and swelling of self begins to abate.
Saints Gregory the Great, Cyril, Augustine and Basil