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TEMPTATION is as old as human history. But what is new about temptation in our times is that sin has never been so accessible, so pervasive, and so acceptable. It could rightly be said that there is a veritable deluge of impurity sweeping through the world. And this has a profound effect upon us in three ways. One, is that it attacks the innocence of the soul just to be exposed to the most egregious evils; second, the constant near occasion of sin leads to weariness; and thirdly, the frequent fall of the Christian into these sins, even venial, begins to whittle away contentment and his or her confidence in God leading to anxiety, discouragement, and depression, thereby obscuring the joyful counter-witness of the Christian in the world.
The elect souls will have to fight the Prince of Darkness. It will be a frightening storm — no, not a storm, but a hurricane devastating everything! He even wants to destroy the faith and confidence of the elect. I will always be beside you in the storm that is now brewing. I am your mother. I can help you and I want to. —Message from the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth Kindelmann (1913-1985); approved by Cardinal Péter Erdö, primate of Hungary
This “storm” was foretold centuries before to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres with stunning accuracy. It would be a Storm brought about by the corrupting influence of The Order of Freemasons who, in their higher ranks, have been coordinating the infiltration, corruption, and destruction of not only the Church, but of true democracy itself.
Unbridled passions will give way to a total corruption of customs because Satan will reign through the Masonic sects, targeting the children in particular to insure general corruption…. The sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with the Church, will be thoroughly attacked and profaned. Masonry, then reigning, will implement iniquitous laws aimed at extinguishing this sacrament. They will make it easy for all to live in sin, thus multiplying the birth of illegitimate children without the Church’s blessing…. In those times the atmosphere will be saturated with the spirit of impurity which, like a filthy sea, will engulf the streets and public places with incredible license.… Innocence will scarcely be found in children, or modesty in women. —Our Lady of Good Success to Ven. Mother Mariana on the Feast of the Purification, 1634; see tfp.org and catholictradition.org
Pope Benedict compared this deluge of corruption, directed in particular toward the Church, as a parallel to that in the Book of Revelation.
The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current. (Rev 12:15)
This fight in which we find ourselves… [against] powers that destroy the world, are spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation… It is said that the dragon directs a great stream of water against the fleeing woman, to sweep her away… I think that it is easy to interpret what the river stands for: it is these currents that dominate everyone, and want to eliminate the faith of the Church, which seems to have nowhere to stand before the power of these currents that impose themselves as the only way of thinking, the only way of life. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
This is why, dear brothers and sisters, I have preceded this writing with The Storm of Fear, so that you would be strengthened in your confidence in God’s love for you. For none of us is unscathed today, confronted at nearly every turn, by this torrent of temptation. Moreover, we have to remember the words of St. Paul that…
…where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more. (Rom 5:20)
And since Our Lady is the mediatrix of all grace, Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 969 why would we not have recourse to her? As she said to Mother Mariana:
I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love. Let them come to me, for I will lead them to Him. —Stories and Miracles of Our Lady of Good Success, Marian Horvat, Ph.D. Tradition in Action, 2002, pp. 12-13.
Yet, we must not only pray and trust, but also “fight.” In that regard, here are four practical ways to avoid and overcome temptation in these times.
I. The Near Occasion of Sin
In the “Act of Contrition”, many Catholics pray during the Sacrament of Confession:
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to avoid sin and the near occasion of sin.
Jesus said, “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” Matt 10:16 Many times, we are caught up in temptation, and then sin, because we weren’t wise enough to avoid the “near occasion” of sin in the first place. The Psalmist has this advice:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. (Psalm 1:1 NIV)
This is a call to, first of all, avoid those relationships that lead you into sin. As St. Paul said, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33) Yes, this is difficult because you say you don’t want to hurt another’s feelings. But you can be honest and say, “Precisely because I care for you, I cannot continue this relationship, which is leading us both into sin whenever we’re together. For the good of your soul and mine, we have to part ways…”
The second aspect of avoiding the near occasion of sin—and this is really just common sense—is to avoid those environments that could lead you into sin. The internet is one of the greatest occasions of sin for Christians today, and we all need to be watchful and prudent regarding its use. Social media, entertainment sites, and even news sites are portals to a torrent of hedonism in our times. Choose apps and filters to block out the garbage, direct messages to a simple reader, or spend your time with family and friends rather than engaging the mostly meaningless gossip, negativity, and drivel of the media. And this includes researching and avoiding those movies that contain nudity or extreme profanity and violence, which can’t help but deaden the soul.
Many families would revolutionize their homes if they cut the cable. In our home, when we canceled ours, our children began to read, play instruments, and create.
O Christian, what are you doing with your time?
Idleness is the playground of Satan. Lying in bed has provided many an occasion for sin as thoughts slowly drift into memories of past wounds, impurity, or worldly fantasies. Reading magazines and books that idolize the body, spread gossip, and focus on possessions, are breeding grounds for all manner of temptations. Watching television with its base commericals, constant materialistic message, and often sordid programming is only dulling many souls to the spirit of worldliness that is so pervasive in our times. And do I need to say anything about killing time on the internet and what dangers lurk there?
Pope Francis issued this prudent warning of how worldliness can eventually move us away from our faith…
…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord. —POPE FRANCIS from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013
Prayer, sacrifice, and constructive activities (such as going for a walk, reading a good book, or taking up a hobby) can keep idleness from becoming a breeding ground for sin.
At this point, some readers may feel these admonitions are prudish and backwards. But the fruit of indulging in the above forms of “entertainment” speak for themselves in how they make us feel, how they affect our health (when we’re couch potatoes), and how, above all, they disrupt our communion with God, and therefore our peace.
Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
III. Wrestling ants… or bears
What is easier? To wrestle an ant or a bear? So too, it is much easier to extinguish a temptation when it first enters than after allowing it to grow in your heart. St. James writes:
…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)
The key is to wrestle the ant before it becomes a bear, to put out a spark before it becomes a blaze. That is, when you feel your temper flaring, it is far easier to say no to that first word of anger than to turn off the torrent of words once you’ve “lost it.” When you are tempted to entertain gossip, it is much easier to remove yourself from the conversation or change the subject when it first begins than when the juicy details have you in their grip. It is much easier to walk away from porn when it is a mere thought in your head than when you’re sitting in front of the computer. Yes, the initial temptations might be strong, but those first few moments are not only the most important part of the battle, but the most grace-filled.
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it… (1 Cor 10:13)
IV. Temptation is not a sin
Sometimes temptation can be very strong and so shocking that it leaves one feeling a certain shame that it even passed through one’s mind—whether it’s a thought of revenge, greed, or impurity. But this is part of Satan’s tactic: to make it seem as if the temptation is the same as the sin. But it is not. No matter how strong and disturbing a temptation is, if you immediately reject it, then it remains but a temptation—like a raving dog on a chain that can only bark at you.
We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)
Don’t forget that Jesus was “one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Heb 4:15 And you better believe that the most wicked temptations were sent His way. Yet, He was without sin, meaning that the temptation itself was not a sin. Rejoice then, not only that this is not a sin, but that you are worthy enough to be tested.
Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
REJECTING THE ILLUSION
In closing, when you and I were baptized, vows were spoken by our parents and godparents on our behalf:
Do you reject sin as to live in the freedom of God’s children? [Yes.] Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin? [Yes.]—from the baptismal rite
Battling with temptation can be tiring… but the fruit of conquering it is true inner peace and joy. Dancing with sin, on the other hand, produces nothing but the fruits of discord, restlessness, and shame.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)
Temptation is part of the Christian’s battle, and will be until the end of our lives. But perhaps never before in the history of man have we, the Church, so much need to be sober and alert to the devil who is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) Even then, our focus should not be on the darkness, but on Jesus the “leader and perfect of our faith”…Heb 12:2 and the flood that is coming to us through His Mother.
I could compare this torrential flood (of grace) to the first Pentecost. It will submerge the earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. All mankind will take heed at the time of this great miracle. Here comes the torrential flow of the Flame of Love of My most Holy Mother. The world darkened already by lack of faith will undergo formidable tremors and then people will believe! These jolts will give rise to a new world by the power of faith. Trust, confirmed by faith, will take root in souls and the face of the earth will thus be renewed. For never has such a flow of grace ever been given since the Word become flesh. This renewing of the earth, tested by suffering, will take place through the power and the imploring force of the Blessed Virgin! —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann
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|1.||↑||Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 969|