Morning Meditation for Tuesday – Twenty-third Week after Pentecost ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

PATIENCE IN THE TIME OF TEMPTATION

Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation (Ecclus. ii. 1). The Lord usually permits souls the most dear to Him to be most severely tormented by temptation. But they put all their trust in God and they conquer. He who places you in the combat will not abandon you or let you fall.

I.

The Lord usually permits souls that are most dear to Him to be most severely tormented by temptations. While he lived in the solitude of Palestine, in prayer and penitential works, St. Jerome was greatly afflicted with temptations. He himself described them: “I was alone, and my heart was full of bitterness; my dried and withered members were covered with a sack. My skin became as black as that of a Moor; the hard ground was my bed, which served rather to give pain than rest; my food was very scanty: and still my heart was inflamed against my will with bad desires. I had no other refuge than to have recourse to Jesus, and to implore His aid.”

The Lord permits us to be tempted for our greater good. First, that we may be more humble. Ecclesiasticus says: What doth he know that hath not been tried? (Ecclus. xxxiv. 9). In truth, no one is better acquainted with his own weakness than the man that is tempted. St. Augustine remarks, that St. Peter, before he had been tempted, presumed on his own strength, boasting that he would have constancy to embrace death rather than deny Jesus Christ; but when tempted he miserably denied his Master, and then he became aware of his weakness. Hence, having favoured St. Paul with celestial revelations, our Lord, in order to preserve him from vainglory, allowed him to be molested with an importunate temptation against chastity, which is of all temptations the most humiliating to man. And, says the Saint, lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me (2 Cor. xii. 7).

II.

God allows temptation to try us in order to make us grow rich in merit. Many are disturbed by scruples, on account of the bad thoughts that molest them. But there is no reason to be disturbed; for it is certain that it is the consent to evil, but not the evil thought itself, that is a sin. Temptations, however violent they may be, leave no stain on the soul when they happen without any fault of ours, and when we drive them away. St. Catharine of Sienna and Blessed Angela of Foligno were strongly tempted against chastity, but the temptations increased rather than diminished their purity. Every time the soul conquers a temptation she gains a degree of grace, for which she will afterwards be rewarded with a degree of glory in Heaven. Hence we shall receive as many crowns as we resist temptations. “As often,” says St. Bernard, “as we conquer, we are crowned.” And our Lord said to St. Matilda: “He who is tempted, places as many gems on My head as he overcomes temptations.”

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with the temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor x. 13). St. Jerome says, that for a ship too long a calm is more dangerous than a tempest. So the tempest of temptation prevents a man from rotting in sloth, and makes him unite himself more closely to God, by turning to Him to ask His graces, by renewing good purposes, by making good acts of humility, of confidence, and of resignation. In the Lives of the Ancient Fathers we read that to a certain young man who was constantly and severely assailed by carnal temptations, his spiritual Father seeing him in great affliction, said: Son, do you wish me to pray to God to deliver you from so many temptations, which do not allow you to live an hour in peace? The young man answered, No, my Father; for though I am greatly molested by these temptations, I derive great advantage from them, for with the Divine aid I thus make continual acts of virtue. I now pray more than I did before, I fast more frequently, I watch more, I endeavour to practise greater mortification of my rebellious flesh. It is better for you to pray to God that He may assist me by His grace to bear these temptations with patience, and thus to advance in perfection. Such temptations, then, we should not, indeed, desire; but we should accept them with resignation, believing that God permits them for our greater good. The Apostle, when molested by similar temptations, several times implored the Lord to deliver him from them. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity (2 Cor. xii. 8, 9). You will say: But St. Paul was a Saint. And St. Augustine answers: By what means, think you, did the Saints resist temptations? Was it by their own strength, or by the power of God? The Saints trusted in God, and thus they conquered. Hence the holy Doctor adds: Do you also abandon yourself into the hands of God, and fear not. He who placed you in the combat will not abandon you or let you fall.

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