THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity endureth all things”
HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST WITH A STRONG LOVE DOES NOT CEASE TO LOVE HIM IN THE MIDST OF TEMPTATIONS AND DESOLATIONS
Let us come now to the means which we have to employ in order to vanquish temptations. Spiritual masters prescribe a variety of means; but the most necessary, and the safest, of which only I will here speak, is to have immediate recourse to God with all humility and confidence, saying: “Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord make haste to help me!” This short prayer will enable us to overcome the assaults of all the devils of hell; for God is infinitely more powerful than all of them. Almighty God knows well that of ourselves we are unable to resist the temptations of the infernal powers; and on this account the most learned Cardinal Gotti remarks that “whenever we are assailed, and in danger of being overcome, God is obliged to give us strength enough to resist as often as we call upon Him for it.”
And how can we doubt of receiving help from Jesus Christ, after all the promises He has made us in the Holy Scriptures? Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you (Matt. xi. 28). Come to Me, ye who are wearied in fighting against temptations, and I will restore your strength. Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me (Ps. xlix. 15). When thou seest thyself troubled by thine enemies, call upon Me, and I will bring thee out of danger, and thou shalt praise Me. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am (Is. lviii. 9). Then shalt thou call upon the Lord for help, and He will hear thee: thou shalt cry out, Quick, O Lord, help me! and He will say to thee, Behold, here I am; I am present to help thee. Who hath called upon him and he despised him? (Ecclus. ii. 12). And who, says the Prophet, has ever called upon God, and God has despised him and given him no help? David felt sure of never falling a prey to his enemies, whilst he could have recourse to God. He says: Praising, I will call upon the Lord: and I shall be saved from my enemies (Ps. xvii. 4). For he well knew that God is close to all who invoke His aid: The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him (Ps. cxliv. 18). And St. Paul adds that the Lord is by no means sparing, but lavish of graces towards all that pray to Him: Rich unto all that call upon him. (Rom. x. 12).
Oh, would to God that all men had recourse to Him whenever they are tempted to offend Him; they would then certainly never commit sin! They unhappily fall, because, led away by the cravings of their vicious appetites, they prefer to lose God, the Sovereign Good, than to forego their wretched short-lived pleasures. Experience gives us manifest proofs that whoever calls on God in temptation does not fall; and whoever fails to call on Him, as surely falls: and this is especially true of temptations to impurity. Solomon himself said that he knew very well that he could not be chaste unless God gave him the grace to be so; and therefore he invoked Him by prayer in the moment of temptation: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it … I went to the Lord and besought him (Wis. viii. 21). In temptations against purity (and the same holds good with regard to those against Faith), we must take it as a rule never to stay and combat the temptation hand to hand; but we must endeavour immediately to get rid of it indirectly by making a good act of the love of God or of sorrow for our sins, or else by applying ourselves to some indifferent occupation calculated to distract us. As soon as we discover a thought of evil tendency, we must disown it immediately, and, so to speak, close the door in its face, and deny it all entrance into the mind, without tarrying in the least to examine its object or errand. We must cast away these foul suggestions as quickly as we would shake off a hot spark from the fire.