from the annals of history unto our current day
Meditations for the Holy Season of Lent
by a Member of the Society of Jesus
Meditation V - Sunday
On the Causes of Temptation
Matt. iv. 1-11.
"At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil took him into the holy city, and set him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written: He hath given his angels charge over thee; and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan; for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and, behold, angels came and ministered to him."
ON THE CAUSES
1st Point. Why did our Lord suffer himself to be tempted? It was in order to vanquish our enemy, to teach us how to combat, to inspire us with courage, to animate us by his example, to humiliate the devil, who triumphed over Adam, to repair the sin of our first parents, and to raise them from their fallen condition, by giving their children power to triumph over the devil.
2nd Point. Why am I tempted? It is because you are proud, because you do not guard your senses, especially your eyes and ears, because you are under the dominion of bad habits, which hold correspondence with the devil; it is, perhaps, because you are not in the order, or state, in which God desires you to be, and have not followed your vocation; it is that your heart is attached to creatures, or that you are not sufficiently occupied; it is that you are a man, a sinful man and a Christian, and that you desire only happiness and consolation. For a man, being free, is not always determined to do good; but the sinner, being a slave, is under the dominion of him who has conquered. The Christian, being a soldier, should never relax his warfare, or slumber at his post. If the righteous wish to be crowned, they must first be proved by temptation.
3rd Point. Why has the devil tempted me? Because he hates the image of God, which you bear in you; because he is envious of man, and wishes him to be in his own place; because he seeks to make you his slave and the companion of his pains. It is for this end that he desires to enter into your heart, which is the throne of God, to be adored therein; strives to profane his temple and sanctuary; wishes to drive Jesus Christ from his kingdom, which is in you; wishes to crucify him anew, in your soul, and renew the ignominies of his passion. Do you not assist him in his malicious designs? Do you not satisfy his ambitious schemes? You do this as often as you yield assent to his temptations.
4th Point. Why does God suffer me to be tempted? For his glory and your good. He wishes to know if you truly love him; he wishes you to know yourself, and to make you sensible of your infirmities, and constrain you to have recourse to him; he wishes to prove your virtue, to hold you in dependence on him, to prepare you for combat, detach you from creatures, and render you worthy of eternal life.
Oh, Jesus, Saviour of my soul! since thou hast been tempted, I am no longer astonished that I also suffer temptations. It is good for me to know thee and know myself. Temptation is necessary and salutary for me, because it renders me humble, and prevents me from being presumptuous. Let me be tempted, then, my God, and prove me to see if there is any iniquity in me. Oh, no, my God, do not tempt me; I know my miseries too well! Deliver me speedily from temptation, at least strengthen me against its assaults, and give me courage to vanquish it. Satan aims at thee as well as at thy servant. Defend thyself and thy interests, therefore, in me, against thy enemy and mine.
WORDS OF SCRIPTURE
"God tempted Abraham." - Genesis, xxii.
"Fear not; for God is come to prove you." - Exodus, xx.
"Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart?" - Acts, v.
"God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself." - Wisdom, iii.
"As gold in the furnace he hath proved them." - Ibid.
Return to the Fourth Meditation . . .
Proceed to the Sixth Meditation