The ARM of St. Michael
The third adversary on the way to sobriety is the Devil. This reflection, derived chiefly from the writings of St Ignatius of Loyola, offers assistance in the midst of desolation, when temptation becomes strong. The enemy is the author of all temptation. God does not tempt but permits the enemy to touch us with it.
Jesus has revealed that permanent escape from all of the Tempter's activity, in this life, is not given, because Satan never sleeps. However, Christ has overcome the Devil. Our Savior has promised that He (alone) grants everything needed for self-mastery.
Temptation is experienced as an inward invasion. The sudden appearance of a thought, a sound, a word, a memory, a trigger, that invites obsession. Any thought that waits for my fixating reaction, and ensuing escalation, is a) a lie and b) from the Devil. The Devil is smarter than men and knows exactly what can lead to ruin. The timing of his desolation is frequently cunning, unsuspected and uncannily cruel. The evil one can present the most innocuous-seeming trifle, and deceive one that he hasn't even taken an offending sip yet, when in truth he already has.
Obsession precedes compulsion. Obsession is difficult to overcome because it is taking place in the mind, where hands cannot just reach in and surgically remove the unwanted evil thought or impression.
Yet, it is almost natural for an addict to want to stand in his own strength, to resist. It is also natural to fail, believing that white knuckle human effort is the only possibility for escape.
The only effort required is to cast oneself upon the Lord and have no fear. Immediately. The wildfire of obsession is put out before it can burn out of control. How is this done?
Quenching the flames of temptation to sin begins by declaring before God my weakness but also my rejection of this lust invitation now. At the same time, the power of the name of Jesus Christ is invoked aloud:
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce lust"
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce Satan"
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce all of the noise of Satan"
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce all of the plans of Satan"
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce all of the works of Satan"
"In the name of Jesus Christ I reject and renounce all of the desolations of Satan".
Then pray "Jesus, my Lord and my God, save me, hide me in your wounds, cover me with your blood. Protect me until the storm of destruction passes by.""Jesus, save me because I am going to drown." Be calm and believe He will deliver us from the evil, because He wants our freedom from worry, anxiety, agitation, and fear. If there is the slightest doubt, the merest apprehension about His power, temptation may press again.
One uses the sword of renunciation in the name of Jesus, with faith. Jesus can do what is asked. Jesus can do anything, for He is God. If there is no faith in Him, there is no deliverance. We come to Him in total trust,we are saying yes to powerlessness over ourselves and the foe, and we are saying yes with real faith to Jesus.
As Jesus takes over, we are astonished at how whatever was trying to press in, subsides and the mind relaxes without qualm into whatever task there is to finish at hand. All of this is the grace of God.
The key is to believe it. It is time to truly believe it, finally. Long have been the days of falling, and everything under the sun tried, except the impossible: the supernatural substance of God, in His Son, the power of Christ's infinitely pure blood, the sacrifice so holy that all those in Hell tremble at the mere utterance of His name. Every knee bends on the earth, and under the earth, at the name of the Christ. Is our faith weak? Is Jesus' power not esteemed to be all-capable yet? Keeping coming to the Eucharist, and let Him strengthen faith.
As lust temptation passes, there is a secondary temptation to look inward, checking to see if the mind has been made clear, so that one can relax into a certain self-controlling satisfaction. DO NOT DO THIS. Forget about the mind! Right now. Do not wonder fearfully if the adversary has 'left the building'. Instead, trust that Christ is protecting his sheep. Do not turn any thought now to obsession status: its presence, absence, weakness or strength.Satan is waiting just outside the sheepfold for the glimpse over the wall; as we are anxiously tempted to think: is he still around? Instead, give him no more thought. Let the moment go and be held only in the safety of Christ's embrace, looking forward into the future. Do not use the 'rear-view mirror' of doubt!
If temptation persists again later, call someone to pray on it. Two gathered in His name will be heard and the request for refuge answered, when asked with vulnerability, expectancy and faith.Always give thanks to God before asking for anything. Do not presume his mercy, but politely request it, giving praise and thanks.
A lust addict can be exhausted into exasperation, into intolerance of temptation itself; believing that God's mercy should include isolation from all touch of evil. This is not realistic, and at the same time, several precious wisdom blessings could be missed. Temptation is not all cause for lament. Here are several points to remember:
I am in His trusting Arms
I am secure knowing that God is not a liar, but keeps His promises. (Jos. 21:45; Rom. 15:8; 2 Pet 1:4)
I am promised God's grace and mercy in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
I am promised that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond my strength. (1 Cor. 10:13)
I am promised that God will always provide me a way of escape from temptation. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Temptation is a merciful messenger, announcing that I still need God (and will always need Him). Praise Him!
Temptation is a reminder that I remain an excellent candidate for God's mercy.
Temptation is a sign of my weakness and I rejoice in my weakness; because I know power is perfected in it.
When I am weak, I am ready to be made strong by the Lord.
Temptation is inviting me to take a step up, to come higher toward virtue; it is an opportunity; great things are afoot despite the outset risk of peril.
I am promised that all things work together for good. (Rom. 8:28)
I am promised that I will be cleansed of sin when I confess. (1 Jn. 1:9)
I am promised victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)
Don't miss the growth happening in the midst of desolation. With each successful passage of relying on God's strength, we accumulate merit. The more we see our 'poverty of strength', the more we turn to God in reliance, the holier we become, the less Satan can touch us. In time, temptation becomes progressively less strong and obsession less and less intense.We are moving toward self-mastery through continuous dependence on God, which is not just blessed safety but a very privileged place; the foot of the kingdom itself.Thank you Jesus Risen Savior.