In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
O, my most Precious and Adorable Jesus, how deeply You suffered to redeem us from ourselves yet how little we wretched and ungrateful sinners are willing to endure in order to keep ourselves from succumbing to even the littlest of temptations. Indeed, without Your willing it to be we terrible souls cannot but help falling into sin, yet we – who are powerless to save ourselves – seem so often to refuse the great Grace of Salvation You have died to give we unworthy servants of Yours. Why do we turn away from Your infinite Mercy to gain some fleeting worldly fancy? Why do we, the most miserable of Your creatures, run not into your loving embrace but towards the cold snares of the devil with such unceasing frequency? Why do we foul and sinful souls choose so often to cause You greater suffering through our endless and ever-increasing depravity? O Lord, if You would keep us from falling into the greatest of sins, we would still reject You and Your promise of salvation for nothing more than a morsel of material gain or carnal pleasure. Therefore, I beg You my Lord, my God, through the intercession and prayers of Your Most Holy and Blessed Mother who never fails to come to the aid of Your servants when we earnestly cry out to Her, take from us, Your pitiful, weak, and most undeserving servants, all great temptations. We are but little souls incapable of resisting those great temptations and vices with which You forge Your most celebrated and holy Saints through their resiting and persevering, by Your Grace, against the attacks of the Devil which You allow for their spiritual benefit. Instead, I beg You profusely my Lord, send us who know ourselves to be but weak and feeble souls only the littlest and most straightforward of trials as these will be all that we can bear. Keep us from wishing for that which is for those greater souls so that we, who unlike Your Saints, are most inept at keeping ourselves pure and sinless when put to even the mildest of trials may exercise our faith against that which we miserable, and most ungrateful slaves can hope – with the aid of Your Grace – to remain vigilant against and withstand. Through these little trials at which greater and more holy souls than ourselves would merely scoff yet which pose for us little souls, such insurmountable obstacles guide us so that we may be made more pure and holy growing in our faith and ability to serve You in more meaningful and sacred ways. Until then, my Most Holy Love, keep us safe from these greater temptations, I pray, and may our struggle against these often forgotten and seemingly insignificant trials, by our uniting them with Your most Perfect Sacrifice and after the hands of our Blessed Mother embellish them, be made fruitful offerings unto You, Our God. Against the smallest temptations keep us constantly vigilant, my Most Blessed Lord, so that we may grow – if it be Your Will – into servants capable of suffering yet greater trials for Your Glory. And if it be not Your Will for us that we should take upon ourselves these feats fitting only to Your spiritual giants, and if You deem it better for our spiritual progress that we should wrestle merely against these smaller temptations all our days, accept our lowly sacrifice and pitiful efforts and bless us, I beg You, with the prudence to seek out no greater trials than those which You have deemed us worthy to battle against, and keep us, my Lord, I pray, satisfied with the lot You had cast for us in Your infinite wisdom when You created us. Keep us from trying to soar with the Saints when we yet but struggle to writhe with the worms. May You keep us ever humble and devoted to You alone, My God, and satisfied by all which You deem us worthy to receive and against which You have found it just for us to struggle. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I sit down to write this weeks letter I find myself once again reflecting upon the study edition of St. Teresa’s spiritual manual on prayer “The Way of Perfection” published by the Institute of Carmelite Studies. Still meditating upon the opening chapters the following question is the spark of today’s entry:
“What are some of the small temptations that today are perhaps so common that little attention is paid to them?”
I will address this question more directly, perhaps, in a future entry; however, what struck me as most valuable to share today was how entirely incapable we little souls are of resisting even the smallest temptation. The common temptations of the world – those temptations that holier persons than we would find not yet a tiny challenge to resist – are for us the most dangerous and devastating foes in our spiritual lives. Often – although certainly not always – we little souls are blessed with a deep love for our Lord which allows us the blessing of maintaining active and devout spiritual lives. We find it easy to keep ourselves chaste, to avoid pornography and other sexual deviancy, to keep our religious and spiritual obligations – both those imposed by the Church and those taken up under the guidance of our spiritual directors – and to keep a watch on our tongue and the way in which we show charity and kindness to others; however, it is because of our weakness and feeble natures that God tests us not by these greater trials. He knows us too weak to resist them if He were to prove us with them, and He knows just how great our need is of the graces contained in a devout spiritual life if we are going to resist the trials with which He does know us lowly and meek servants of His capable of withstanding for our spiritual benefit. However, it is because so many are far greater than we pitiful little souls that our priests, bishops, and deacons so frequently offer us guidance on the more heinous sins and temptations. The Lord tests great souls by great trials and the weak He checks with the smallest of trials; however, to each, their trials are exactly what will push them to the highest level of spiritual life deemed fitting for them by God. Therefore, we who are so small ought to remain ever more vigilant in our defense against those sins which destroy the littlest among us so readily but are those which are spoken of the least. Remain ever vigilant then, my brothers and sisters, and think not yourself capable of greater feats than those which God has seen fit to guide you towards. Watch yourself, then, ever more, and guard vigilantly against those trials which are so seemingly small, and so familiar and insignificant, that they seem obvious and warrant no mention or warning to those more advanced than we wretched and vile souls.
We faithless sinners must guard the gates of our souls most severely for we are kept by the Grace of God from the most severe temptations of this world and therefore it is at our moments of seemingly greatest spiritual strength that the lowest of Satan’s servants shall strike finding entrance to the Temple by a door imagined to be permanently closed and therefore not warranting the watchful eye of a sentry. Our Blessed Lord knows how absolutely foul we would become if He sent upon us His greatest demons. We meek and feeble slaves would be crushed instantaneously and left to the pickings of the unholy spirits most foul if we even for a moment tried to resist that which God challenges His even minor greater servants than we. In His great and perfect Mercy He keeps us from the front lines of the Spiritual Warfare being waged unceasingly by His faithful servants who He tests in the trenches of great sin, vice, and temptation against the waves of those who serve His fallen and depraved angels and against whom we little souls have no hope of prevailing.
However, do not think yourself safe, O Christian soul, merely because God has set you behind the protective lines of His Holy and Catholic Church for God has still, indeed, claimed your soul for Himself and not one of His slaves – not even the most wretched and faithless as we – shall be allowed to go untested. In our Lords perfect knowledge, He forges trials and temptations fitting for each of His servants relative to their individual abilities and which – even when small and of seemingly no consequence – shall push each of His slaves to our spiritual summit if we but trust in Him and remain faithful. As the work of one tradesman may seem easy to one of another trade who knows not the intricacies of the former’s occupation so too is the work of God to each of His servants. Therefore, although the means by which our Lord allows little and meek souls to suffer for His Glory and our spiritual benefit may seem to others but a mere inconvenience we little souls know genuinely just how harmful these little temptations are to us faithless sinners. We know they are as difficult for us to resist as profound greed, inflated pride, and the most wretched and lustful carnal temptations are for those our Lord has chosen for higher and far greater spiritual heights. If we allow ourselves to turn away from our Lord for, but a moment, if we let ourselves to fall from His Grace for only the time of a breath, we may lose all to that which, for greater souls than we, would merely need to be put out of their mind. We must not mistake the grace of love and devotion for our Lord with spiritual accomplishment. It is because of our weakness that He graces us with such deep spiritual longing for union with Him.
How often do we allow ourselves the luxury of a few more moments rest beneath our covers only to find those brief and fleeting moments growing unnoticed into another Mass not attended? How terrible when we reward ourselves with the expenditure of our free time upon some frivolous and worldly pastime instead of spending that valuable time on fruitful and spiritual endeavors! Is it truly worth risking eternal happiness so that we may enjoy the temporary carnal pleasure of a lustful glance if single or the excitement of adulterous flirtation if married?
My Adorable and most Merciful Lord how often do we turn from you led by some silly and fleeting passion. We little souls who strive so diligently to be devoted to you, who say our daily Rosary, who faithfully attend Mass each morning, who read and write often about spiritual topics, who visit as often as possible in Adoration chapels around the world You in the Blessed Sacrament, we feeble and weak souls who take from you the great grace of being allowed to live a fruitful and spiritual life – lives which so often your greatest of Saints had to struggle daily to maintain – fall so often into spiritual pride and think ourselves able to forgo our defenses against the lower, and often overlooked, temptations of this world. We fall into spiritual pride thinking ourselves responsible for the graces which are given to us by You alone so that we may grow in sanctity and remain vigilant in our devotion and service to You, my God. Keep us then, I fervently pray my Lord, from ever again forgetting that it is only because of our weakness, and not because of any significant deed or good performed upon our part, that you make that which is hardly easy for us. It is because You deemed for us little souls that which is easy to be a challenge enough that you have graced us with such profound love, devotion, and trust in You. It is by these underserved graces alone, these graces which we all too often waste and squander, that we are allowed to be blessed with an active spiritual life without which we would fall into great depravity, and vice by temptations so small others would hardly notice themselves being tempted. Let us not think, indeed My God forbid it from ever entering into our minds, that we are responsible for any of the good which you have given us in our lives and allowed us to perform and therefore begin to think ourselves capable of soaring with your spiritual giants. Instead, my Lord, keep us ever mindful of our absolute wretchedness and incapacity for anything worthwhile so that we not only become aware of the profound necessity we little souls have for maintaining, by Your Grace alone, a devout and spiritual life in order to keep us safe from the vilest, and yet the smallest, temptations of the world. Keep us vigilant, our Savior, against those everyday temptations which You have deemed suitable tools by which the Devil is to test your smallest, weakest, and most faithless servants. Keep us always aware of our wretched natures and therefore ever cleaving to You against the temptations of mundane and daily life which pose such significant challenges to we little and miserable sinners. Amen
Therefore, we who are weakest will be tried by that which seems most straightforward, and the harshest of temptations shall try those who are, unlike us, strong and holy; yet all of us will struggle, and all of us will most certainly stumble, and this is why, my brothers and sisters, even we little souls must never turn away from our God, must never allow ourselves to fall into even the smallest sins, and must never think ourselves safe because we keep a devoted spiritual life or attend daily Mass. The Lord allows us such blessings because we, in our weakness, need them even more. A healthy soul can soar to unthinkable heights, but we sick, depraved, wretched, writhing, and foul souls ought to be more than pleased that our Lord has called us to His Church and should never seek after that which is beyond the challenges He, in His perfect wisdom, has deemed beneficial for us in our spiritual development; for, instead of bringing us benefit, overreaching in our spiritual exercises and devotions will lead to ruin of the highest degree. Let not your guard down for a moment! For we little souls whom God has blessed with the loving hearts of children will be continuously tested by temptations in the face of which even a child in age would laugh. God grants rest and repose to those whom He proves by the severest of trials. Spiritual consolations are reprieves granted only to those whom God intends to use as His most glorious of Saints as He knows the severity of their most taxing of trials would lead them to ruin just as the smallest of tests destroy we little souls. Against our trails, however, there can be no reprieve but death for there is no other escape from this world, and it is by the very struggle of the mundane daily life in our exile here on earth that our Blessed Lord has chosen to test us weak and miserable sinners. Yet there is still hope for sweetness here on earth, my brothers and sisters, a sweetness of suffering made beautiful through the union of it with the most perfect and holy sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Run to Him, my Brothers. Run to Him, my Sisters. Hurry to our Lords embrace as a little child runs into the arms of her father when she finds the world too awesome, too scary, too dark to bear. Our Lord shall protect His little children and make our suffering fruitful when He unites it to His Holy Sacrifice. Run to Him and look not at the greatness of the trials overcome by your Brothers and Sisters. Let each their own suffering and trust that ours is sufficient for our Lord to forge we little souls, by His Grace, into suitable and acceptable servants in His Kingdom. Know, O Christian souls, that God has sent unto us only that which is needed to transform our lowly and miserable lives into fitting and worthy sacrifices to be offered up to Him.
Let us not then, my Lord I pray, in our spiritual zeal and misplaced enthusiasm seek to act as if we know better than You who is all knowing and overreach seeking trials and temptations far greater than You realize us capable of resisting. Let not our desire to appear holy to those on earth force us away from that path which You have willed us to walk. Truly expunge these wretched thoughts of pride and vanity from our minds as soon as they begin to wage their vile attacks against our weak and feeble natures. Keep us humble, my Lord, my God, and keep us satisfied with the position You have created us to fill in Your Kingdom for to be the lowest in Heaven is better than to be the best in the eyes of men. Let us be satisfied with all that You have chosen to give us Lord, and keep us from desiring that which You know to be harmful and unfitting for souls as little as ours. Amen.
Let us close this letter, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, with a prayer from the Little Office of our Blessed Virgin Mary imploring and begging Her to intercede for us with Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may never seek to extend ourselves beyond that which our Lord deems fitting for us and that we remain ever aware of the true lowliness of our condition and need for Our Lord if we are to resist even the smallest of temptations here on earth so that we may enter into His Kingdom and enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven:
Forgive, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the sins of Thy servants; so that we who cannot become pleasing to Thee from our own actions, may be saved by the pleading of the Mother of Thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.