How to Resist Temptation
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Publication Date: October 15, 2001
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You've no doubt taken steps to ensure your safety and your family's from various kinds of worldly calamities. But if you haven't made sure you're properly on guard against temptations, you're setting yourself up for a spiritual disaster of immense proportions. No matter how devoted to Christ you are, temptations are going to come to you. That's why How to Resist Temptation is essential reading for every serious Catholic.
The author, Fr. Francis J. Remler, C.M., helps you prepare yourself so that, when temptations begin to assail your soul, you'll be ready. Learn from Father's experience Fr. Remler gives you the benefit of his expertise as a confessor and shepherd of souls, as he shows you how to identify and guard against common misunderstandings of what temptation really is and what it is not misunderstandings that can paralyze your spiritual growth. He details ways you can recognize the elements of temptation and be on guard against often-unrecognized causes of individual temptations. He reveals how you can keep the memories of your past sins from troubling and tempting you now, and clarifies why God allows temptation to exist in the first place. He even explores the role of the demonic in day-to-day temptations with firm faith in God's power.
A marvelously encouraging and optimistic book, How to Resist Temptation even contains useful directions on how you can believe it or not actually benefit from temptation, and how you can learn from others' examples as you fight against temptation. So the next time the siren song of temptation starts to sound in your ears, don't try to tough out the struggle alone call on God's ever-plentiful grace, and go to battle against sin armed with the wisdom of How to Resist Temptation!
"Temptations, therefore, are meant to reveal whether the love that a soul claims to have for God is genuine and true, and not mere hollow sham and vain pretense. They are the avid test of the spiritual life."
"It must be borne in mind that penance is done not only by chastising ourselves for sins committed, but also by denying ourselves and refusing to grant to the passions what they crave by the commission of new sins."
"Far more necessary than fasting from food and drink is the practice of perfect patience with his neighbor, the refraining from saying and doing unkind things, fidelity to his prayers and the duties of his state of life, and in the matter of holy purity, the resolute avoidance of every form of dangerous amusement."
"Firmness of will, then, is very necessary, but it is not enough. It is also necessary that you try to remain calm, self-controlled, composed in mind and body. Above all, guard against making use of nervous outward actions and gestures for the purpose of manifesting your interior resistance."
One of the most painful ordeals that God-fearing and virtuous souls are made to undergo is that of being tried by temptations. Temptations meet them at every turn and assail them from within and from without.
There is scarcely a day on which they do not experience the full truth of the words penned by St. Paul: “I do not the good that I will [i.e., that I desire to do]; but the evil which I hate, that I do… To will [to do good] is present with me; but to accomplish that which is good I find not. For the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do… I am delighted with the law of God according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my members.” (Rom. 7:15, 18-19, 22-23)
From this passage we can see that temptations assail the saint as well as the sinner. No man is exempt from their molestation. They follow us all through life like our very shadow, and they will not cease to trouble us until we have closed our eyes to this world in the hour of death.
Now, the mere fact of being tempted is in itself a heavy cross to those who are resolved to love God to the utmost capacity of their soul and are determined to keep themselves free from the stain of sin. Sometimes they are assailed only at intervals for a short time; then again for long periods and almost continuously; sometimes they are assailed only at intervals for a short time; then again for long periods and almost continuously; sometimes only with moderate violence; at other times so vehemently and insistently that they seem to be driven to the verge of defeat and surrender. And this cross, heavy as it is in itself, is made still more so by the fact that often, when the conflict is over, they find it impossible to decide whether they have come out of it victorious and are still in the state of grace, or have gone down in defeat, rendered themselves guilty of sin and thus lost the love and friendship of God.
Not only this: two other factors often contribute to increase their disquietude and unhappiness. First, it may happen that because of a lack of proper instruction, they consider it actually sinful to be tempted; and second, they may consider the feelings and sensations that certain temptations, especially those of an impure nature, produce in the body as evidence and proof of willful and deliberate consent to these temptations.
From this it can easily be seen that temptations may become the source of an agonizing martyrdom to those who are poorly instructed in the subject.
And what is often the final outcome of this mistaken idea of the nature of temptations? Nothing less than this: it may lead to failure in the spiritual life. Mistaking their temptations for actual sins, and finding that in spite of their strongest resolutions they cannot keep from being tempted, many lose courage and say, “What is the use of trying any longer? I cannot keep from committing sin, do what I will; I might as well give up.” Thus, lack of proper knowledge induces a fatal discouragement and makes them relax their efforts to avoid sin. In the end, they yield easily to temptations and possibly contract the habit of sin, which may prove fatal to their eternal salvation.
Ignorance of the true nature of temptation paralyzes many a soul and exposes it to the imminent danger of eternal punishment, even though it had been destined to do great things for God and reach a high degree of eternal glory in Heaven.
These considerations have prompted the writing of this treatise. It is intended to serve as a guide especially for souls who are tried by the fiery ordeal of temptations, and to point out how these can be turned into the means of greater love of God, increase of grace and merit here and endless glory thereafter.
There's a great deal of profound lessons in this little manual. The will may precede the intellect, nevertheless, I feel that Fr. Remler's intellectual approach does a lot to help a person to resist temptation. For example, Father explains to not simply concentrate on avoiding sinning but also to avoid occasions of sin in the first place. This cuts the problem off at the head. Also I really enjoyed his explanation of the merits of overcoming temptation. It's one of the ways a person can prove their love for God, and also, that's how a person gains merit in heaven. Someone who never sins but who also is never tempted, earns far fewer merits in heaven than someone who is continually tempted but nonetheless resists. That's a comforting thought. These are only a couple of the great lessons that Fr. Remler puts forth in this book. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to advance in their spiritual life.