Lenten reading from St John Vianney: on Temptations

CHAPTER 5: On Temptations

We are all inclined to sin, my children; we are idle, greedy, sensual, given to the pleasures of the flesh. We want to know everything, to learn everything, to see everything; we must watch over our mind, over our heart, and over our senses, for these are the gates by which the devil penetrates. See, he prowls round us incessantly; his only occupation in this world is to seek companions for himself. All our life he will lay snares for us, he will try to make us yield to temptations; we must, on our side, do all we can to defeat and resist him. We can do nothing by ourselves, my children; but we can do everything with the help of the good God; let us pray Him to deliver us from this enemy of our salvation, or to give strength to fight against him. With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this Name, if they sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for Heaven, all brilliant with precious stones.

See, my children, the good God refuses nothing to those who pray to Him from the bottom of their heart. St. Teresa, being one day in prayer, and desiring to see the good God, Jesus Christ showed to the eyes of her soul His Divine hands; then, another day, when she was again in prayer, He showed her His face. Lastly, some days after, He showed her the whole of His Sacred Humanity. The good God who granted the desire of St. Teresa will also grant our prayers. If we ask of Him the grace to resist temptations, He will grant it to us; for He wishes to save us all, He shed His Blood for us all, He died for us all, He is waiting for us all in Heaven. We are two or three hundred here: shall we all be saved, shall we all go to Heaven? Alas! my children, we know nothing about it; but I tremble when I see so many souls lost in these days.

See, they fall into Hell as the leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter. We shall fall like the rest, my children, if we do not avoid temptations, if, when we cannot avoid them, we do not fight generously, with the help of the good God – if we do not invoke His Name during the strife, like St. Antony in the desert.

This saint having retired into an old sepulcher, the devil came to attack him; he tried at first to terrify him with a horrible noise; he even beat him so cruelly that he left him half dead and covered with wounds. “Well,” said St. Antony, “here I am, ready to fight again; no, you shall not be able to separate me from Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.” The spirits of darkness redoubled their efforts, and uttered frightful cries. St. Antony remained unmoved, because he put all his confidence in God. After the example of this saint, my children, let us be always ready for the combat; let us put our confidence in God; let us fast and pray; and the devil will not be able to separate us from Jesus Christ, either in this world or the next.

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6 Responses to Lenten reading from St John Vianney: on Temptations

  1. toadspittle says:

    .

    “We want to know everything, to learn everything, to see everything; “ says the irascible old saint, with more a hint of exasperation, it sugests toToad.
    But, is that such a bad thing?
    What is the point of everything existing, if not to be known?
    And, if we are insatiably curious, whose fault is that? Ours?

    “St. Teresa, being one day in prayer, and desiring to see the good God, Jesus Christ showed to the eyes of her soul His Divine hands; then, another day, when she was again in prayer, He showed her His face. Lastly, some days after, He showed her the whole of His Sacred Humanity.
    Toad can only surmise what this seems to imply.

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  2. 000rjbennett says:

    Although it may be difficult for human beings of the twenty-first century to understand and appreciate it, there is much wisdom in what St. John Vianney writes. Unfortunately for many human beings of our time, who do not understand, his words are complete nonsense. The prevalent attitude seems to be: “Temptation? Resist temptation? Oh, surely we’re beyond all that, aren’t we? There is no such thing as temptation. There is only the inclination toward what makes us feel good.”

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  3. toadspittle says:

    .

    Ooorjbennett has a good point about the historical context of Vianney’s material.
    The fact is though, as Ooor acknowledges, we are actually in the 21st Century, like it or not.
    And since CP&S chooses to run it now, it must come in for contemporary “analysis” if you like. What else can we do?
    Toad can no more put himself in the mind of an early Nineteenth Century French peasant than contrariwise.
    And Vianney is by no means complete nonsense. Toad is, for example, often tempted to express himself considerably more forcefully than he does. But he does not yield to the temptation. (Well,hardly ever.)

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  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Is Ooorjbennet a Scottish person by any chance? Even if not, he´s certainly “óors´. And a fine thing too. I think of “Oor Wullie” of course, with words by James Cameron of Thompson Press.

    Ooor JB speaks for millions who are ignorant, who simply will not understand. They follow the words of that horrible man, Oscar Wilde, when he pronounced on temptation. And look where that “feel good” factor of Ooor RJB landed him.

    Toad perceptively asserts that a nineteenth century peasant cannot put himself in Toad´s mind. Only too true -so many obstacles.

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  5. kathleen says:

    Dear Toad and Mr. Whippy,
    I would suggest it is perhaps unwise to poke fun at St. Jean Marie Vianney’s simple, childlike way of expressing these profound Truths of our Faith in this ongoing Lenten Catechism on his homilies. Yes, JMV came from humble origins and was a man of the early 19th century, so different to our ‘wised-up’ 21st C; many things have changed since he lived, but Truth is one and the same always.

    Don’t forget: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
    Also: “Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:16) 😉

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  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    I´m sure you are right K. And I am very content that he comes from humble origins – I do too.

    Truth is as you say, the same always. It´s how we talk about it that changes. St J-M reveals more about himself than Truth as he writes: it´s that revelation which is troubling, not his context.

    I blame Toad.

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