Dec 29, 2018 filed under Courage, Humility, Temperance.

Temptation

It’s time to think about New Year’s resolutions. I find that the more regularly I go to Confession, the fewer resolutions are left to make at the end of the year. But there are always a few.

Whether your resolutions involve prayer life, exercise, or finally starting a meditation routine (which the Catechism (2707) says we “owe it to ourselves” to do!) you may want to consider adding a small sacrifice for your priests to the list.

Have you ever made a long-term sacrifice – like giving up something good that you love – for someone else? Many people are doing that for our priests, who deserve our prayers and sacrifices. So what kind of sacrifices are people making?

It can be anything you’re inspired to do that isn’t harmful. Most of us need to choose something that’s not so hard that we drop it right away (like giving up caffeine!). Things like switching from cola to diet cola, leaving out the cream in your coffee, or saying a few extra prayers every day will open up a lot of graces for priests who sacrifice so much for us. The goal is joy. Find something that gives you deep joy, because true joy is always connected to love.

I joined some friends in making little sacrifices for priests three years ago. But I’m the original Ms. Weakling and every day I get hit by a wall of temptation. “Aw, c’mon, why are you doing this? You’re having a rough day, you deserve to….” (You can bet any sentence that starts that way isn’t God talking!)

The Upside
But last week I was hit by another wall – one of encouragement. I thought, “This must really be doing some good or I wouldn’t be having this temptation.” The upside is that if we’ve decided to do something beneficial, a temptation is only confirmation that it’s helping great things to happen — or the devil wouldn’t care.

What kind of great things is our sacrifice making possible? Well, we don’t know exactly. It’s kind of none of our business. Those we pray for may be given insight as they counsel an addict or get the strength to make a midnight hospital visit to someone who’s dying. We can trust that God floods his grace where it’s needed most.

He doesn’t require our help, but invites us to participate in his generosity. So we don’t give up doing the good things we’ve started just because we’re tempted. Temptation happens to everyone. And like St. Paul, our power is made perfect in weakness.

Fellow weaklings, unite! Adding a little sacrifice for priests to our Resolution list is a powerful way to build up the Church.

Words of encouragement
Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote these wise words about temptation:

“In the eyes of God, violent temptations are great graces for those souls who by [temptation] suffer an interior martyrdom; they are the great battles in which great victories have made great saints.” He suggests this prayer: Lord, you are all-powerful and goodness itself, it is for you to defend me and to preserve me from all evil, that is beyond my power. I accept this suffering for love of you, only keep me from all sin.

After we pray that prayer, he says to “Let the soul remain in peace in the midst of the storm. It will find itself strengthened without knowing how by the hidden hand of God.”

May God guide you in making your resolutions and strengthen you in keeping them by His power. Happy and blessed New Year!

Love always,
Rose

Quotations are from Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J., Ignatius Press, 2011, pages 145 and 148.

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6 Responses to “Upside of Temptation”

    • Rose Folsom

      Barbara,
      I love Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s way of making me calm when I get wound up that I’m not doing enough or not “trying” hard enough. He reminds me to relax and put God back in the driver’s seat.
      Rose

      Reply
  1. Leah

    Wow! Great way to have temptation work FOR. Us. Not against us.
    Thank you, Rose.
    Happy New Year. May God Bless you all with Peace,Joy Loveand good health.!

    Reply
  2. Tom Roberts

    The early books of the Bible, the Torah and those following which lay down our basic rules of conduct, speak of how we should treat the stranger. Jesus sums it up most eloquently in Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

    We often speak of these activities as sacrifices. Our New Year’s and Lenten resolutions usually center on giving up something. But what if we truly embrace it? That’s a whole different dimension. Here is a quote from a chapter entitled Freedom From Bondage in the book Alcoholics Anonymous: “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.”

    For my part I like to support the Catholic Multicultural Center, a diocesan center operated by my church which helps strangers of all sorts, from the newcomer to America to the homeless and the down and out; aliens from without and aliens from within.

    Reply
    • Rose Folsom

      There’s nothing more profound than that quote from the AA Big Book. It presupposes that there are objective standards for “what you ought,” which presupposes God, and describes human freedom as living out what we were created to be for love of the Divine lawgiver, Who is love itself.

      Reply

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