Temptation is an invitation to sin. The source of the
temptation may be the attractive, sinful conduct of other people, called the
world; or the disorderly desires of our own fallen nature called concupiscence;
or the malicious urging of the evil spirit, whom we call the devil.
When we pray not to be led into temptation, we are not
asking to be freed from the testing of all human beings to prove their loyalty
to God. Temptation as a test of our fidelity to Him is part of our probation
here on earth, and the price of earning our reward in the world to come.
What we are praying for is not to allow ourselves to give in
to temptation, but rather to profit from the temptation experience. The saintly interpreters of the Lords
Prayer give no less than nine ways that we should protect ourselves from
yielding to temptation and should profit from the inevitable temptations in our
lives. Our prayer in this petition will be answered to the extent that we
follow these rules of Christian wisdom:
- Be on guard against the evil spirit. Know his strategy, be able
to recognize his deceits and above all, resist him, steadfast in the faith (I
- Daily examine your conscience to see how well you coped with the temptations
of each day. Thank God for the grace of benefiting from the temptations you
overcame, and ask His forgiveness for those to which you gave in.
- Periodically, during the day, look into the book of your soul.
Read there what thoughts are on your mind, what desires in your will. Sift
these interior movements by discarding some, keeping others, and acting on
those which your conscience tells you are graces from God.
- Be suspicious of your natural tendency to go after whatever
appeals to you. Avoid being impulsive in rejecting what you dislike, or
embracing what you like. All temptations are attractive. Learn to practice
discernment of spirits as explained by the masters of the spiritual life.
- Remember that we are now living by faith, which means that of
ourselves we may not even recognize a temptation. Thus we must constantly ask
for light from God: Lord, that I may see.
- Life on earth is a warfare and we are members of the Church
Militant. We must, therefore, be properly armed with humility and prudence, and
the graces that come for the asking. Christs admonition to the disciples in
Gethsemane is addressed to all of us, Watch and pray, that you may not enter
into temptation (Matthew 26:41).
- Be on the alert. We can get into habits of action that may dull
our perception. Custom can blind us to danger and keep us from even knowing we
are being tempted. We may give in before we even realize what has happened.
- Set yourself models for imitation. Do not follow the crowd. Come
to know certain persons whose conduct you admire and whose example you resolve
to follow. It may be several people. In one you imitate the persons humility,
in another fidelity to prayer, in another selfless charity, in another
uncomplaining patience, in another cheerfulness under trial, in another prudent
planning of work, in another devotion to the Eucharist, in another a great love
of Mary, and in another a strong zeal for souls. In this way, we have a ready
substitute for the temptations from the world the attractive sinful behavior
of others. We have, instead, the inspiration of good people in the world
their attractive practice of virtue.
- Do not live in false security. Cultivate a healthy fear of
offending a loving God. This will give you the protection you need to remain
faithful to Him no matter how seductive the temptations you encounter.
Copyright © 2002 Inter Mirifica
Pocket Catholic Catechism