SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - The Nature of Temptation
The survey respondents noted temptations were frequent and more forceful when they had neglected their time with God and when they were physically tired. They stated that the ability to resist temptation was made easier by a strong spiritual life, avoiding compromising situations and being accountable to someone.
Temptation will always be a part of our lives. No matter our age or the circumstances of our lives, temptation will be something that we have to deal with until the end of our journey here on earth.
Not every temptation is caused by Satan, so we need to look at the two causes of temptation.
Most temptations are caused by our fallen human nature. As we saw last Sunday, Original Sin has wounded our human nature. We simply do not have complete control over our mind, memory, imagination, will, passions and emotions. We will always struggle with something.
Sometimes we might be tempted to be lazy and sleep in, rather than go to work or to school. Sometimes we might be tempted to gossip. Sometimes we might be tempted to be impatient. Sometimes we might be tempted to be unchaste. Sometimes we might even be tempted to take something that does not belong to us.
"Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between spirit and flesh develops. But in fact, this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2516).
Satan can also cause temptation. Satan's greatest triumph is that he has caused many people to no longer believe that he really exists. Jesus tells us who he is when he said: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10: 18). My dear friends, Satan is real and his actions in the world are very real.
The Second Vatican Council made this point very clear when it said, "The whole of man's history has been the story of our combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 37.2).
As the holy season of Lent begins, this Sunday's liturgy reminds us that we are engaged in a daily and dramatic battle between Christ and Satan, between good and evil. What is at stake in this battle is our eternal salvation. Satan will do all that he can do separate us from Christ.
Many people become discouraged and nervous when they are tempted. Many people can be scrupulous. They think that they are sinning when in fact they have only been tempted. Sin is only a sin when there is full consent. Temptation is not a sin; therefore, there is no need to mention temptation within the Sacrament of Confession. Actually, when we say no to the temptation and affirm our fidelity to the Lord, we need to realize that we have been victorious.
The continual interior struggle to be faithful to God does have great personal benefits. The struggle is a workout, and every work out makes us stronger and allows us to go deeper.
Although it is true that we will always be tempted, we must also do all that we can to avoid temptation.
Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the men of the Zulu tribe it is quite simple.
The method the Zulus use comes from their knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. He cannot do this because his fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. He cannot get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and seize him.
In 1972, during one of his General Audiences in Rome, Pope Paul VI spoke of Satan and the nature of temptation with these dramatic words: "So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: 'An enemy has done this.' He is 'a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies,' as Christ defines him."
"He undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities. He can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations."
Prayer, daily Mass, filial devotion to our Lady, the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, adoration and the frequent reception of Confession are the proven remedies for temptation.
At the same time, it is essential that we avoid the occasions of sin that put us in the danger of not only being tempted, but also may cause us to sin. Young people who are preparing themselves for marriage need to be prudent about their relationship and establish firm boundaries that will help them to be chaste. Parents need to be vigilant about the use of the television, music, video games and the Internet in their homes.
The triple concupiscence of the world, the flesh and the devil are just as real today as they have been over the entire history of humanity.
Lent provides us with a special time of grace to examine our conscience and remove those things that are holding us back from a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ or may in fact be an obstacle to our eternal salvation.
Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. Click here and listen to Father's Sunday homilies. Visit Father on the web and check out his book Get Serious - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, an inspirational and easy to follow guide for living a deeper spiritual life. Father's new book is an excellent Lenten companion. Android and iPhone apps are now available for Father's homilies.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible
- Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture
- The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith
- Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer
- Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace
- The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean?
- Year of Faith: Bringing the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to Life
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Our Lady's Encouragement
- Tuesday Homily: Conversion and Perseverance in the Life of Faith
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 4/6/2013
There is great cause for belief in the Resurrection. One of the most wonderful tenets of Catholicism and the true Christian religion the Church transmits, is that the Resurrection is a historical ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 4/1/2013
Have you have heard the old adage, used often in a disparaging way, He´s so heavenly he is no earthly good. I suggest again that it misses the mark completely. We are Easter people. We are called to ...Continue Reading
Fr. Randy Sly - Catholic Online, 3/31/2013
To make sure that all mankind knows that it is not over but actually just beginning, God has an Easter bombshell. While we may have been able to anticipate the wondrous joy of a day of resurrection, ...Continue Reading
Pope Francis - Catholic Online, 3/31/2013
Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »
Largest fault slip
Tectonic plates, lubrication behind 2011 tsunami
Ravages of diabetes
Man documents decay to his own feert
Staying with Medicaid
Most in Washington state go with tried, true
Same-sex unions popular
Washington reports highest number of unions
World unprepared for increasing cases by 2050
Young disenchanted with Obamacare
Nelson Mandela dies
South African statesman led nation from aparthied
Principles are expensive
Republican governors missing out on Medicaid
Pit of despair
Refugees deported back to Tijuana face strife
World pledges funds to battle AIDS, TB, malaria
College loan debt
Seven out of 10 students graduates in debt
Threat to way of life
Wealth disparity in U.S. major threat, Obama says
Martin Bashir resigns
MSNBC host leaves after Sarah Palin comment
New security threat
'Air gap" of keyboard strokes pose Internet threat