Defeating Temptation

These feelings come upon me, so strongly. I resist at first, I pray, but the feeling, the tingling in the pit of my stomach is too strong to resist. And I fall into sin. I repent, but then I do it again. How do I resist these things? I will not loose faith nor hope, but it seems that no matter how much I pray, I continue to fall even deeper into sin. I pray the Rosary every night, I practice the Hour of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet whenever I can, and though they make me feel so much better, nothing can cure this horrible illness that is sin.

Lately I have come to notice that temptations of the flesh usually don’t last very long. I like to carry an Irish penal rosary that I can tuck away in my pocket to hold whenever they do come. It’s important to be able to last against the first few minutes and continue praying, no matter what. Even short prayers, such as “I resist the devil and by God’s grace, he flees from me,” help to remind yourself that you want nothing to do with those thoughts. If these types of temptations are weighing you down, just remember that they probably won’t play with your mind for more than five minutes at a time. It certainly can be a tiring fight, but one that results in grace.

Prayer is obviously a very powerful tool. The Rosary is supposed to be particularly powerful in helping one to resist temptation. I would recommend spending time on other spiritual exercises as well if you don’t already - spend time reading Sacred Scripture, and try to do some spiritual reading also - there are many works out there by saints which can be very inspirational. One cannot recommend frequent Mass attendance highly enough. Saint Benedict is often called upon by people to help against temptation and the power of the devil - there are other saints that could help you too, so perhaps you could develop a devotion to one of them.

However, I have found that while prayer and reading are great no matter what your situation is, they will not be of much help to you in combatting temptations if you do not have an absolutely firm purpose of amendment. It’s easy to think when we confess our sins that we do have this firm purpose of amendment…but that often fades. Knowing or being told that your sin is wrong is one thing, but being repulsed by it because you realise that it is that sin which has crucified Christ is another. As my missal says in the prayer before Confession: “…O, my good God, what good will it avail me to know my sins, if Thou dost not also give me a hearty sorrow and repentance for them?..Thou insistest upon a change of heart, without which there can be no reconciliation with Thee; and this change of heart none but Thou canst give.”

Some people recommend putting holy images around your bedroom (or wherever you feel most tempted) - if you have a physical reminder, such as a crucifix, that the Lord is watching everything you do, you may develop a stronger will to resist temptations. This might be worth a try.

I think the first thing to realize here is that whatever the sin may be, unless you have recourse to prayer, your resistance is futile.

I have book marked prayers on my computer that I can read in the moments where I am most tested. Some of them are rather long, which is a good thing, because as you read slowly through them, you are moved away from the thoughts of sin.

I’m pretty convinced that the devil has a small window of opportunity to tempt us, and when we do something proactive, such as prayer, we close that window and the temptation is gone.

Good luck with this, it is a long journey.

"Evil is a curiously Janus-like phenomenon. On the one hand, it pervasively colors historical existence, from which it can be no more removed by human effort than death (the two phenomena are, in fact, intimately connected). Because of this ubiquity, evil insinuates itself even into the fabric of the everyday and so becomes “banal,” to use Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase.

On the other hand, no matter how common evil is in fact, no matter how widely diffused in “structures of sin” that shape whole cultures and in which we are all more or less complicit, evil never quite manages to complete its colonization of the normal, and its “banality” always betrays a conscience that has either never awakened or has lulled itself to sleep. No matter how seemingly inevitable evil is, then, it never altogether loses its power to shock, but always remains a scandal.

It is a good thing that evil scandalizes us. Our sense of outrage testifies that we have not yet lost the ability to recognize it for what it is. If evil is evil, in fact, it is because it is not normal, but abnormal, monstrous, and prodigious, no matter how prevalent it may be de facto.

What is normal is not evil, but the good. In saying this, we formulate the experiential root of the classical Christian doctrine that evil is not equi-primordial with the good, but rides parasitically on it — is a “privation of a due good,” in the scholastic language of Thomas Aquinas.

At stake in Thomas’ admittedly dry definition of evil is nothing less than the affirmation that reality is basically good, and that it is good to exist in this world, despite the presence of evil in it."

An essay by Adrian J. Walker who is an assistant professor of philosophy at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. I found it totally fascinating. It ties together the Christian primacy of Joy and the subject of evil, something you would probably never associate.

You can find some of it here.

I’ve brought together stuff on this topic a number of times so there’s a lot more on the site but you have to use the search or categories to find it.



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