REFLECTION: Handling temptations PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 January 2012 14:01

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Though we have to face big issues and bigger challenges this year, especially in the areas of economy and politics, we should never forget to develop and strengthen our personal skills in handling temptations. This concern never goes passé, and it touches a basic, indispensable aspect of our life in all levels.

These days, temptations come to us in the subtlest and trickiest of ways. This can be due, at least in part, to the increased level of sophistication both in people’s thinking and in world development, especially in the area of technology and ideology.

With these developments, temptations can easily come undetected, and sin can be committed in most a hidden way and even easily rationalized. How important therefore it is for us to always grow in humility and simplicity, finding aggressively practical ways to achieve them! If not, we would just be lost.

The healthy fear of God is disappearing. In its place, a most heinous sense of self-importance is dominating. The criteria to determine what is good and bad have become blurred. They have gone almost completely relativistic and subjective, declaring total independence from any absolute and objective rule or law.

Some psalms can give us helpful ideas on how to handle temptations.

- “Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you.” (Ps 36)

- “Turn away from evil and learn to do God’s will. The Lord will strengthen you if you obey him.”

- “Wait for the Lord to lead, then follow in his way.”

Truth is, we always need God in our battle against temptations. We should disabuse ourselves from the thought that with our good intentions and our best efforts, we can manage to tame the urges of temptations.

We cannot! That’s the naked truth about it. We only can if we are with God. And we have to be with him in a strong, determined way, not in a passive or lukewarm way. Do flies flock on a hot soup? No. But they do on a cold or lukewarm soup.

We need to do everything to be with God. Our mind and heart should be fully and constantly engaged with him. We always have reason to do so—at least, we can thank him for what we are having at the moment: health, food, air, work, etc.

We should never take things for granted. Remember that our Lord asked the only leper who returned to him to thank him out of the ten who were cured, where the other nine were. Our Lord expects us to thank him for everything that he has given us.

From there, let us try our best to figure out what his will for us is at any given moment. We have to have the sensitivity to ask him, even if we are already doing our duties and responsibilities which are part of his will for us, how what we are doing at the moment is part of his will, of his abiding providence over us.

That kind of mentality helps us greatly in avoiding sin and in keeping our love for him. Just the same, we should not be surprised that in spite of this attitude, temptations still come. Jesus himself was not exempted from temptations.

That’s because temptations also play an important role in our spiritual life. They point to us where we are weak. They encourage us to develop the virtues that correspond to them. They remind us to be humble always and to depend always on God rather than on our powers.

Temptations can come because of one’s temperament, as in if one is passionate yet weak of will. He is not well-balanced and energetic. They also come because one has been reared in love of pleasure or in an atmosphere of pride and envy. They also come because of God’s providential designs.

We have to be ready for them. Always with God’s grace which we have to continually ask, we have to develop the skills and other tricks of our warfare
with them. We should learn to ignore them, reject them outright, never entertaining them, and even ridiculing them.

We should learn to pray more intensely, immerse ourselves more in our work and duties and with greater love. We have to grapple with temptations in the little things, never allowing them get into our big things or close to the heart of our spiritual fortress. It might be a good idea too to go to confession once temptations come.

Lastly, never to lose hope even when we fall.