So long as we live in this world we cannot escape
suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in
Job: "The life of man upon earth is a warfare."(1)
Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation
and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never
sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour,
find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or
so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be
altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are
often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled,
purified, and instructed. The saints all passed
through many temptations and trials to profit by
them, while those who could not resist became
reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy,
no place so secret that temptations and trials will
not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he
lives, for they come from within us -- in sin we were
born. When one temptation or trial passes, another
comes; we shall always have something to suffer
because we have lost the state of original
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall
more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by
fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become
stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns
temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will
make little progress; indeed they will quickly
return, more violent than before.
Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you
will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by
severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel
when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are
tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish
to be consoled.
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering
mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless
ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless
and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire
tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we
do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows
us what we are.
Above all, we must be especially alert against the
beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more
easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the
mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.
Someone has said very aptly: "Resist the beginnings;
remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil
has gained strength." First, a mere thought comes to
mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure,
evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not
resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry.
And the longer a man delays in
resisting, so much the weaker does he become each
day, while the strength of the enemy grows against
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of
their conversion, others toward the end, while some
are troubled almost constantly throughout their life.
Others, again, are tempted but lightly according to
the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who
weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all
for the salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are
tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He
may see fit to help us, for according to the word of
Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may
be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the
hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will
save and exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is
measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is
made more manifest.
When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to
be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently
in time of adversity, there is hope for great
Some, guarded against great temptations, are
frequently overcome by small ones in order that,
humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may
not presume on their own strength in great ones.