Tag: temptation

The Rule of St. Benedict – The Prologue (7) – The Battle for Goodness

There is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch called The Temptations of St. Anthony, featuring all manner of weird demons of the unconscious drawing the saint away from goodness. You can hardly make him out in the central picture, kneeling, in blue, in prayer, though he is physically alone. And the spiritual life sometimes feels like that – our inner world is crowded out by worries, fears, anxieties, temptations, angry thoughts – and so on…

The Temptations of St. Anthony

In this last post on The Prologue, we see St. Benedict understood the challenges facing anyone trying to live a spiritual life.

The patience of God is leading you to repent…We must, then, prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience to his instructions. What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace…We must run and do now what will profit us forever.”

The motivation is love:

Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation…As we progress…we shall run on the way of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love…We shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom.”

It is a very challenging call.

But it is a call to goodness and to eternity, so perhaps, on balance, it’s worth it!

Spiritual Reflection: Temptation…or Contemplation?

I am part of one of the most tempted generations in history. 

Today in the West, we have power that would have been undreamt of by previous seekers of spiritual truth. Many of us can eat what we want, when we want; we can travel nearly anywhere we want in the world; we can own pretty well anything we want.  And in each of these statements there is that phrase: “we want”…

graceemptiness FOP

One temptation is to be so focused on what we want for ourselves that we close ourselves down to anything else.  It is a dangerous temptation because we can close ourselves down to other people; we can close to growing in a spiritually creative way; we can close to God.

If we gain the world but forfeit our soul, there is no gain.  I wonder how many people realise that focusing too much on  material things and experiences, though pleasurable and fun in the short-term, can have unforeseen destructive consequences on our deeper selves – our souls – and on those with whom we share our beautiful but damaged planet.

On the spiritual way, we will face temptations, certainly.  Perhaps we will fall for many.  How can we keep ourselves focused on the right priorities and grow ourselves in healthy ways that develop our love for others and for God, and keep our hearts open?

This poem, on the theme of withdrawing from temptation, was inspired by the life and words of Francis of Assisi:

Who are we

To snatch at experience


When there is a grace

In the emptiness


That leaves the soul open

For fulfilment


Mattering more

than the mere minute


A fullness

Of living in God.


Francis knew the Gospels about Jesus very well.  The first recorded action after Jesus’ baptism in Mark’s Gospel is this:  “He was in the desert…being tempted…”  Even in spiritual retreat and contemplation, even for a “spiritual giant” like Jesus, there is challenge and temptation.

How can we protect ourselves from temptation?

How can we simplify and purify our lives and avoid temptation?

What can we do when we face temptation?

How can our spirituality come to our aid?

Mirror of Kindliness

His soul was a mirror

            of kindliness


Sensed the arrival

            of God’s visitation


He wrapped his arms around one

            tugged by temptation


And prayed the prayer

            of his soul’s salvation.


Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay