St. Francis de Sales devoted eight of the 15 chapters in the fourth part of “An Introduction to the Devout Life” on the struggle against temptation.
Temptation is a solicitation to evil on the part of our spiritual foes: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Father Adolphe Tanquerey, the author of “The Spiritual Life,” pointed out that God Himself does not tempt us directly, but He allows us to be tempted by our spiritual enemies, at the same time giving us the graces necessary to resist. God wants to make us merit heaven by fighting temptation.
Father Tanquerey pointed out that temptation is a means of purification. He wrote that temptation “reminds us that through lack of vigilance and of effort in the past we have fallen, and it becomes thus an occasion for new acts of contrition, shame, and humiliation, which make for the purification of the soul.
“It obliges us at the same time to put forth earnest and sustained efforts lest we fall; it makes us atone for our negligences and for our surrenders by the performance of contrary acts which further purify the soul.”
Temptation is an instrument of spiritual progress. Father Tanquerey wrote, “It is like a stripe of the lash that awakens us at the moment we would lull ourselves to sleep and relax. It makes us realize the necessity of forging ahead, of not halting midway, but of ever aiming higher, the more surely to remove the danger.
“It is a school of humility, of distrust of self. When tempted we realize more fully our weakness, our powerlessness; we feel more keenly the need of grace, and we pray with greater earnestness. We see all the better the necessity of mortifying in us the love of pleasure, the source of our temptations, and we embrace more eagerly the little crosses of every day in order to weaken the power of concupiscence.
“It is a school of love of God; for to insure our power of resistance, we throw ourselves into God’s arms, there to seek for strength and shelter; we are more grateful to Him for His unfailing grace; we act towards Him as children of a most loving Father to Whom we have recourse in all our trials.”
According to St. Augustine, the three phases in temptation are: suggestion, pleasure, and consent.
Suggestion is the proposal of some evil. Father Tanquerey wrote, “No matter how dangerous such a suggestion may be, it does not constitute a sin, provided that we have not provoked it ourselves, and do not consent to it. There is sin only when the will yields consent.”
Pleasure follows the suggestion. St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Inasmuch as our souls have two parts, one inferior, the other superior, and the inferior does not always choose to be led by the superior, but takes its own line, it not infrequently happens that the inferior part takes pleasure in a temptation not only without consent from, but absolutely in contradiction to, the superior will.
“It is this contest which St. Paul describes when he speaks of the ‘law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,’ and of the ‘flesh lusting against the spirit.'”
Regarding consent, Father Tanquerey wrote, “If the will withholds acquiescence, combats the temptation, and repels it, it has scored a success and performed a highly meritorious act. If, on the contrary, the will delights in the pleasure, willingly enjoys it, and consents to it, the sin is committed.”
“No matter what happens, don’t worry as long as you don’t consent. For only the will can open the door of the heart and let that corruption in,” said St. Josemaria Escriva.
誘惑來自我們靈修的敵人 —— 私慾、世俗和魔鬼。