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SPIRITUALITY


 

 

ON TEMPTATIONS

Temptation is like a winter torrent, difficult to cross.  Some, being most skilful swimmers, pass over, not being whelmed beneath temptations nor swept down by them at all, while others, who are not such, entering into them, sink in them.  As, for example, Judas, entering into temptation of covetousness, swam not through it but, sinking beneath it, was choked both in body and spirit. Peter entered into the temptation of the denial but, having entered it, he was not overwhelmed by it but, manfully swimming through it, he was delivered.

Every temptation is a trial, and the issue of every trial has its fruit; for whereas a man is generally but little known even to himself, he knows not what he can bear and what he cannot bear and sometimes despairs of being able to bear what he can. Temptation comes as a kind of question, and the man is discovered of himself for to himself he was a secret but he was not a secret to his Maker.

"Watch and pray," said the Lord, "lest ye enter into temptation." What is it to "enter into temptation" but to depart from faith? For so temptation advances as faith gives way and so far temptation gives way as faith advances.

Many who have laid up much spiritual wealth from their youth and have arrived at middle age, when temptations arise against them by the machination of the evil one, have not succeeded in resisting the weight of the tempest but have lost all. Some concerning faith have made shipwreck; others have cast away the chastity treasured from youth under some sudden hurricane of sinful pleasure which has rushed upon them. A most piteous spectacle that a man, after self-denial, after fasting, after long prayer, after plentiful tears, after twenty or thirty years' devotedness, a man should, through an unwatchful spirit and carelessness, be made a show o, and stripped of all.

By merciful dispensation of the Creator,  the soul that places confidence in itself is struck down by a providential temptation that, being brought low, it may find out what its failing is; for as soon as the mind feels the blow, the presumption and swelling of self begins to abate.

Saints Gregory the Great, Cyril, Augustine and Basil

 

 

 

 

 

(02-29-04)

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