Thursday, February 15, 2007

How Holy Men dealt with Great Temptation

It is well-known by many holy men and women of God, that the holier one is and the more pious one strives to be, the more the Devil will seek to tempt you. This was no different than many of the great saints we venerate today. I will profile three of these saints in this posting, and show how they were tempted, and how they dealt with it. These men are Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and Saint Benedict.

Saint Francis of Assisi knew well the temptations of the body and how they interfered with the desires of the soul. Because the body is made to carry burdens, and sometimes is sluggish and needs to be beaten, St. Francis called it Brother Ass. In his early years in the 1200s, Francis was often tempted, sometimes almost unbearably. To overcome this temptation, he sometimes rolled around in the snow. This must have an effect similar to getting a cold shower, except it is probably a lot colder. When there was no snow and St. Francis was strongly tempted, he would throw himself onto thorn bushes. This would tear his skin and cause him to bleed. St. Francis understood the dangers of temptation, and avoided them at all costs.

From the book "A History of the Church: from the birth of Christ to the present time", written in 1834 by Charles A. Goodrich, the author describes the lengths to which St. Bernard of Clairvaux would go to avoid temptation. It states: "Such was his austerity, that happening one day to fix his eyes on a female face, he immediately reflected that this was a temptation, and running to a pond, he leaped up to his neck into the water, which was of an icy coldness, to punish himself and vanquish the enemy."

St. Benedict, the founder of Western monastic life, was also tempted thoroughly by the Devil. Yet, with grace, he was able to overcome his tempter. The following information was found on EWTN.com's website, and is quoted from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc:

Benedict, like the Desert Fathers, had to struggle with temptations of the flesh and the devil. One of these struggles is described by Gregory. "On a certain day when he was alone the tempter presented himself. A small dark bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his face and came so near him that, if he had wished, he could have seized it with his hand. But on his making the sign of the cross, the bird flew away. Then followed a violent temptation of the flesh, such as he had never before experienced. The evil spirit brought before his imagination a woman whom he had formerly seen, and inflamed his heart with such vehement desire at the memory of her that he had very great difficulty in repressing it. He was almost overcome and thought of leaving his solitude. Suddenly, however, with the help of divine grace, he found the strength he needed. Seeing near at hand a thick growth of briars and nettles, he stripped off his habit and cast himself into the midst of them and plunged and tossed about until his whole body was lacerated. Thus, through those bodily wounds, he cured the wounds of his soul." Never again was he troubled in the same way.

As the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva said, "To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond... You..., what have you done?"

6 comments:

  1. when i am confronted with a violent temptation, i cut my thumb with scissors and pray the holy Rosary.

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  2. Lord Jesus forgive me for not doing enough to over come temptation of the flesh, i just watch a porn and it lead me to masturbate, oh lord help me to over come this sin, lord am sorry.

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  3. You are forgetting to mention that Jesus appeared to Francis after he threw himself into the thorny roses, telling him that He knew how much he loved Him, that He understood what Francis was going through, and that he no longer had to prove his love for Him in such a way. The roses (still there) grew back the next season, thornless.

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  4. You are forgetting to mention that Jesus appeared to Francis after he threw himself into the thorny roses, telling him that He knew how much he loved Him, that He understood what Francis was going through, and that he no longer had to prove his love for Him in such a way. The roses (still there) grew back the next season, thornless.

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  5. I masturbate like a normal human being. This isn't holiness, it's the kind of madness that led to the Church banning bathing leading to the lack of sanitation that resulted in the Black Death, the worst epidemic of all time.
    The Church has more blood on its hands than Hitler.

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  6. Fiona Mulligan and A Mck. You have know concept of how bad sexual addiction is. IT is just like meth and cocaine addiction. Dopamine fill your brain at unnatural levels. Your body and mind doesn't rest until you fill this void with either porn or sex. It is called sex addiction for a reason. Ask any ex addict and the only way out is with god. You must go through extreme measures to beat addiction whether it is sex or drug addiction.. Please don't make ignorant comments if you have no experience to what your talking about. Your comments may mis inform ore mis guide people that need this solid advice to get out of addiction.. It is like hell on earth when you have an addiction and you don't know how to handle it.

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