Fr. Scott A. Haynes
Like St. Antony of the Desert, we are all subject to temptation. When the demons tried to terrify him, he put his trust in God. We ought to put total confidence in the Lord. Christ will strengthen us by His grace whenever we seek His help. This is especially true when we ask God's assistance in the Sacrament of Confession. When we come before the tribunal of God's mercy, Our Lord wants us to reveal our temptations, weaknesses, and sins, and put complete confidence in Him. We see this in what Christ said to St. Faustina:
“Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you” (Diary, 1602).
Our Blessed Lord taught her further:
"Do not bargain with any temptation; lock yourself immediately in my heart and, at the first opportunity, reveal the temptation to the confessor." (Diary, 1760).
Christians must war against the temptations that assail us. Lest the Devil might deceive us at the moment when we are least expecting it, we ought to ever keep watch over ourselves. We must realize that we are in a spiritual battle and are fighting against pernicious wickedness:
“Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12).
Most of us do not see things in the spiritual realm. Few have ever seen their guardian angel. Nonetheless, we trust in the reality of heavenly things. Similarly, while we have may not have seen a fallen angel, we know that these evil spirits do prowl about, seeking a soul to devour. One day God allowed St. Francis of Assisi to see the way in which the Devil was tempting the members of his religious community. The Devil and his cohorts were hurling temptations at the priests and brothers (friars). Because professed religious make a vow of chastity, the demons especially attacked the purity of these men of God.
The Lord permitted St. Francis of Assisi to see a band of devils shooting arrows of temptation against these men. Some of the arrows had no effect and simply bounced off the pious followers of St. Francis. Others, however, were pierced by the arrow's tip, which penetrated, bit by bit. Still others rebuked the temptations vigorously and called up on God to defend them. This made the devils flee and shriek with hideous yells of rage. This should remind us of what St. John Vianney once said:
“With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons.”
St. Antony of the Desert learned to make it his practice to call upon Christ's name, in order to obtain the grace of defeating Satan. After the Devil beat him and left him half dead, St. Antony said:
“Well, here I am, ready to fight again. You will not be able to separate me from Jesus Christ.”
When we are struggling against temptation and sin, let us run to the Sacrament of Confession. It is a safe place of refuge where we find the protection and power of God. Restored to grace and ready to re-enter the spiritual battlefield as soldiers of Crist, we leave the confessional to do works of penance. As we pray, fast and give alms with humble hearts, Satan cannot separate us from our loving Lord Jesus in this world or the next. With Christ as our Captain, we will be victorious with Him in the battle against temptation. Amen.
Almighty and most Merciful God, graciously hear our prayers. Free our hearts from the temptations of evil thoughts, that we may worthily become a fit habitation for your Holy Spirit. Amen.
My Sweet Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world.