Temptations in Perspective

St Jerome by Sano di Pietro

In the following, St. Francis de Sales and Padre Quadrupani put temptations into perspective.

“These persistent temptations come from the malice of the devil,” says St. Francis de Sales, “but the trouble and suffering they cause us come from the mercy of God. Thus, despite the will of the tempter, God converts his evil machinations into a distress which we may make meritorious. Therefore I say your temptations are from the devil and hell, but your anxiety and affliction are from God and heaven.” Padre Quadrupani suggests the following strategy: “Despise temptation, then, and open wide your soul to this suffering which God sends in order to purify you here that He may reward you hereafter.”

“Let the wind blow,” remarks St. Francis de Sales, “and do not mistake the rustling of leaves for the clashing of arms. Be perfectly convinced that all the temptations of hell are powerless to defile a soul that does not love them. St. Paul endured terrible temptations, yet God, through love, did not deliver him from them.” Quadrupani suggests this: “Look upon God as an infinitely good and tender father and believe that He only allows the devil to try His children that their merits may increase and their recompense be correspondingly greater.”

“It is a good sign,” says St. Francis de Sales, “when the tempter makes so much noise and commotion outside of the will, for it shows that he is not within.” Padre Quadrupani observes: “The more persistent the temptation, the clearer it is that you have not given consent to it. An enemy does not besiege a fortress that is already in his power, and the more obstinate the attack, the more certain we may be that our resistance continues. Your fears lead you to believe you are defeated at the very moment you are gaining the victory. This comes from the fact that you confound feeling with consent, and, mistaking a passive condition of the imagination for an act of the will, you consider that you have yielded to the temptation because you felt it keenly.”

Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).

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