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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Council of Trent: " Lead us not into Temptation"

Council of Trent: "  Lead us not into Temptation"
Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human: and God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.--I COR. x. 13.

In this Epistle St. Paul is telling the faithful of Corinth how needful it is for all to be on their guard against temptation. He says that he finds it necessary to chastise his own body, thus bringing it into subjection, lest he himself should yield to the tempter and become a castaway. 
As a proof of the peril in which we all stand, he cites the history of the Jews who went out from Egypt, great multitudes of whom, on account of their sins, perished in the desert and never saw the promised land. Hence the great danger of temptation and the need of vigilance. The Apostle warns the Corinthians, therefore, to eschew every temptation they can, and as for those which spring unavoidably from the conditions of our present existence, he tells them to trust in God's help, knowing that God will never permit them to be tempted above their strength, but will always give grace sufficient to conquer all their enemies. St. Paul's advice to the Corinthians was for all Christians and for all time.

I. Meaning of temptation. I. To tempt means: (a) to test, to try one, in order to ascertain his dispositions, his character, etc.; (b) to subject one to trials and difficulties in order to give him the opportunity of practicing virtue, of showing good example, and thus of giving glory to God; (c) to provoke one to moral evil with the intention of leading him to commit sin. God does not tempt in the first way, since He is in need of no proofs of our dispositions and character. Neither does He tempt us in the third way, since He cannot be the author or cause of sin (James i. 14). In the second manner God can and does tempt man, as He did in the cases of Abraham, Job, and Tobias. 2. Temptation which is an incitement to sin arises from three sources: (a) the concupiscence of the flesh; (b) the world; (c) the devil. 3. Concupiscence of the flesh means the moral corruption of our nature which results from original sin and ever inclines us to evil. This is our greatest and most dangerous tempter, both because it is internal and because it remains with us throughout life. 4. The world here means the corrupt maxims and bad example of the wicked, and the numerous incitements to follow them which surround us in life. 5. By the devil we mean the assaults of evil spirits, who are the enemies of mankind, and who strive constantly to ensnare us. 6. Temptation is not the same as sin. It is not a sin to be tempted, unless we are the responsible cause of the temptation; but it is a sin to yield to temptation, either by doing evil, or consciously desiring it, or dwelling on the thought of it with pleasure.

II. Meaning of the words, "lead us not into temptation." 1. In this Petition of the Lord's Prayer we do not ask that God will deliver us from all temptations, since this would be impossible in the present state of our corrupt nature, and would deprive us of a rich harvest of merits. 2. We do ask in this Petition that God will either remove dangerous temptations from us, or grant us the grace to overcome them; in other words we pray that God will never permit us to be overcome by temptation of any kind.

Conclusion: 1. The dispositions that should accompany this prayer are distrust of self and confidence in God. 2. The means of conquering temptation are chiefly two: (a) vigilance, which consists in custody of the senses, avoidance of idleness and dangerous occasions, and prompt resistance to temptation; (b) prayer, which includes imploring God for help in time of temptation, frequently raising our minds and hearts to Him, hearing and, meditating on His word, and frequenting the Sacraments.

Council of Trent

Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part IV
The Sixth Petition of the Lord's Prayer
And lead us not into temptation

This Petition Necessary even after the Preceding Petitions have been Granted.

When the children of God, having obtained the pardon of their sins, are inflamed with the desire of giving to God worship and veneration; when they long for the kingdom of heaven; when they engage in the performance of all the duties of piety towards the Deity, relying entirely on His paternal will and providence--then it is, no doubt, that the enemy of mankind employs the more actively all his artifices, and prepares all his resources to attack them so violently as to justify the fear that, wavering and altered in their sentiments, they may relapse into sin, and thus become far worse than they had been before. To such as these may justly be applied the saying of the Prince of the Apostles: "It had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than, after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them (2 Pet. ii. 21)."

Importance of Explaining this Petition

Hence our Lord has commanded us to offer this Petition so that we may commend ourselves daily to God, and implore His paternal care and assistance, fully realizing that, if we be deserted by the divine protection, we should soon fall into the snares of our most crafty enemy.

Nor is it in the Lord's prayer alone that He has commanded us to beg of God not to suffer us to be led into temptation. In His address to the Apostles also, on the very eve of His death, after He had declared them clean, He admonished them of this duty in these words: "Pray that ye enter not into temptation (John xv. 10; Matt. xxvi. 41)."

This admonition, reiterated by our Lord, imposes on the pastor the weighty obligation of exciting the faithful to a frequent use of this prayer, so that, beset as men constantly are by the great dangers which the devil prepares, they may ever address to God, Who alone can repel those dangers, the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation."

Reasons for this Petition:

1. Human Frailty

The faithful will understand how very much they stand in need of this divine assistance, if they remember their own weakness and ignorance, if they recollect this saying of Christ: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt. xxvi. 41)"; if they call to mind how grievous and destructive are the misfortunes of men brought on through the instigation of the devil, unless they be upheld and assisted by the right hand of the Most High.

What more striking example can there be of human infirmity, than the holy band of the Apostles, who, though they had just before felt very courageous, at the first sight of danger, abandoned the Savior and fled. A still more conspicuous example is the conduct of the Prince of the Apostles. He who a short time before loudly protested his courage and special loyalty to Christ, he who had been so confident in himself as to say: "Though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee (Matt. xxvi. 35)," became so affrighted at the voice of a poor servant-maid that he declared at once with an oath that he knew not the Lord. Doubtless his courage was not equal to his good-will. But if, by the frailty of human nature in which they confided, even the saints have sinned grievously what have not others to fear, who are so far below them in holiness?

2. The Temptations of the Flesh

Wherefore, let the pastor remind the faithful of the conflicts and dangers in which we are continually engaged, as long as the soul is in this mortal body, assailed as we are on all sides by the world, the flesh, and the devil. How few are there who are not compelled to experience at their great cost what anger, what concupiscence can do in us? Who is not annoyed by these stings? who does not feel these goads? who does not burn with these smoldering fires? And, indeed, so various are these assaults, so diversified these attacks, that it is extremely difficult not to receive some grievous wound.

3. The Temptations of the Devil

And besides these enemies that dwell and live with us there are, moreover, those most bitter foes, of whom it is written: "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph. vi. 12)." For to our inward conflicts are added the external assaults and attacks of the devils, who both assail us openly, and also insinuate themselves by stratagem into our souls, so much so that it is only with great difficulty that we can escape them.

The Apostle entitles the demons princes, on account of the excellence of their nature, since by nature they are superior to man, and to all other visible creatures. He also calls them powers, because they excel not only by their nature, but also by their power. He designates them rulers of the world of darkness, because they rule not the world of light and glory, that is to say, the good and the pious, but the world of gloom and darkness, namely, those who, blinded by the defilement and darkness of a wicked life, are satisfied to have for their leader the devil, the prince of darkness. He also terms the demons the spirits of wickedness, because there is a wickedness of the spirit, as well as of the flesh. What is called the wickedness of the flesh inflames the appetite to lusts and pleasures, which are perceived by the senses; while the wickedness of the spirit are evil purposes and depraved desires, which belong to the superior part of the soul, and which are so much worse than the wickedness of the flesh as mind itself and reason are higher and more excellent than the senses. The wickedness of Satan the Apostle spoke of as in the high places, because the chief aim of the evil one is to deprive us of our heavenly inheritance.

From all this we may understand that the power of these enemies is great, their courage undaunted, their hatred of us enormous and unmeasured; that they also wage against us a perpetual war, so that with them there can be no peace, no truce.

How great is their audacity is evidenced by the words of Satan, recorded by the prophet: "I will ascend into heaven (Is. xiv. 13)." He attacked our first parents in paradise; he assailed the prophets; he beset the Apostles in order, as the Lord says in the Gospel, that he might sift them as wheat (Luke xxii. 31). Nor was he abashed even by the presence of Christ our Lord Himself. His insatiable desire and unwearied diligence St. Peter therefore expressed when he said: "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. v. 8)."

But it is not Satan alone that tempts men, for sometimes a host of demons combine to attack an individual. This that evil spirit confessed, who, having been asked his name by Christ, replied, "My name is legion" (Mark v. 9; Luke viii. 30); that is to say, a multitude of demons, tormented their unhappy victim. And of another demon it is written: "He taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is made worse than the first (Matt. xii. 45)."

There are many who, because they do not feel the assaults of devils against them, imagine that the whole matter is fictitious; nor is it surprising that such persons are not attacked by devils, to whom they have voluntarily surrendered themselves. They possess neither piety nor charity, nor any virtue worthy of a Christian; hence they are entirely in the power of the devil, and there is no need of any temptation to overcome them, since their souls have already become his willing abode.
But those who have dedicated themselves to God, leading a heavenly life upon earth, are the chief objects of the assaults of Satan. Against them he harbors bitterest hatred, laying snares for them each moment. Sacred Scripture is full of examples of holy men who, in spite of their firmness and resolution, were perverted by his violence or fraud. Adam, David, Solomon, and others, whom it would be tedious to enumerate, experienced the violent and crafty cunning of demons, which neither human prudence nor human strength can overcome. Who, then, can deem himself sufficiently secure in his own resources? Hence the necessity of offering to God pure and pious prayer, that He suffer us not to be tempted above our strength, but make issue with temptation, that we may be able to bear it (I Cor. x. 13).

But should any of the faithful, through weakness or ignorance, feel terrified at the power of the devils, they are to be encouraged when tossed by the waves of temptation, to take refuge in this harbor of prayer. For however great the power and pertinacity of Satan, he cannot, in his deadly hatred of our race, tempt or torment us as much, or as long as he pleases; but all his power is governed by the control and permission of God. The example of Job is very well known. Satan could have touched nothing belonging to him, if God had not said to the devil: "Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand"; whilst on the other hand, had not the Lord added: "Only put not forth thy hand upon his person," Job with his children and possessions, would have been at once destroyed by the devil. So restricted is the power of demons, that without the permission of God, they could not even enter into the swine mentioned by the Evangelists (Matt. viii. 1; Mark v. 12; Luke viii. 32).

Meaning of Temptation

To understand the meaning of this Petition, it is necessary to say what temptation signifies here and also what it is to be led into temptation.

To tempt is to test a person in order that by eliciting from him what we desire, we may extract the truth. This mode of tempting does not apply to God; for what is there that God does not know? "All things are naked and open to his eyes (Hebr. iv. 13)."

Another kind of tempting implies more than this, inasmuch as it may have either a good or a bad purpose. Temptation has a purpose, when someone's worth is tried, in order that when it has been tested and proved he may be rewarded and honored, his example proposed to others for imitation, and all may be incited thereby to the praises of God. This is the only kind of tempting that can be found in God. Of it there is an example in Deuteronomy: "The Lord your God tries you, that it may appear whether you love him or not (Deut. xiii. 3)."

In this manner God is also said to tempt His own, when He visits them with want, disease, and other sorts of calamities. This He does to try their patience, and to make them an example of Christian virtue. Thus we read that Abraham was tempted to immolate his son, by which fact he became a singular example of obedience and patience to all succeeding times (Gen. xxii. 1). Thus also is it written of Tobias: "Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee (Tob. xii. 13)."

Men are tempted for a bad purpose, when they are impelled to sin or destruction. To do this is the work of the devil, for he tempts men with a view to deceive and precipitate them into ruin, and he is therefore called in Scripture, the tempter (Matt. iv. 3). At one time, stimulating us from within, he employs the agency of the affections and passions of the soul. At another time, assailing us from without, he makes use of external things, as of prosperity, to puff us up with pride, or of adversity, to break our spirits. Sometimes he has for his emissaries and assistants abandoned men, par-ticularly heretics, who, sitting in the chair of pestilence, scatter the deadly seeds of bad doctrines, thus unsettling and precipitating headlong those persons who draw no line of distinction between vice and virtue and are of themselves prone to evil.

Meaning of the Words "Lead us not into Temptation"

We are said to be led into temptation when we yield to temptations. Now this happens in two ways. First, we are lead into temptation when, yielding to suggestion, we rush into that evil to which we are tempted. No one is thus led into temptation by God; for to no one is God the author of sin, nay, "He hates all who work iniquity (Ps. v. 5)"; and accordingly we also read in St. James: "Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted of God; for God is not a tempter of evils (James i. 13)."

Secondly, we are said to be lead into temptation by Him Who, although He Himself does not tempt us nor cooperate in tempting us, yet does not prevent us from being tempted or from being overcome by temptations when He is able to prevent these things. In this manner God, indeed, suffers the good and the pious to be tempted, but does not leave them unsupported by His grace. Sometimes, however, we fall, being left to ourselves by the just and secret judgment of God, in punishment of our sins.

God is also said to lead us into temptation when we abuse, to our destruction, His blessings, which He has given us as a means of salvation; when, like the prodigal son, we squander our Father's substance, living riotously and yielding to our evil desires. In such a case we can say what the Apostle has said of the law: "The commandment that was ordained to life, the same was found to be unto death to me (Rom. vii. 10)."

Of this an opportune example is Jerusalem, as we learn from Ezechiel. God had so enriched that city with every sort of embellishment, that He said of it by the mouth of the prophet: "Thou wast perfect through my beauty, which I had put upon thee (Ezech. xvi. 14)." Yet, Jerusalem, favored with such an abundance of divine gifts, was so far from showing gratitude to God, from whom she had received and was still receiving so many favors, was so far from making use of those heavenly gifts for the attainment of her own happiness, the end for which she had received them, that having cast away the hope and idea of deriving spiritual profit from them, she most ungrateful to God her Father, was content to enjoy her present abundance with a luxury and riotousness which Ezechiel describes at considerable length in the same chapter. Wherefore those whom God permits to convert into instruments of vice the abundant opportunities of virtuous deeds which He has afforded them, are equally ungrateful to Him.

But we ought carefully to notice a certain usage of Sacred Scripture, which sometimes denotes the permission of God in words which, if taken literally, would imply a positive act on the part of God. Thus in Exodus we read: "I will harden the heart of Pharoah" (Ex. iv. 21); and in Isaias: "Blind the heart of this people" (Is. vi. 10); and the Apostle to the Romans writes: "God delivered them up to shameful affections, and to a reprobate sense (Rom. i. 26)." In these and other similar passages we are to understand, not at all any positive act on the part of God, but His permission only.

In this Petition we do not ask Freedom from all Temptation

These observations having been premised, it will not be difficult to understand the object for which we pray in this Petition. We do not ask to be totally exempt from temptation, for human life is one continued temptation. Moreover this state of probation is useful and advantageous to man. Temptation teaches us to know ourselves, that is, our own weakness, and to humble ourselves under the powerful hand of God; and by fighting manfully, we expect to receive a never-fading crown of glory: "for he that striveth for the mastery is not crowned, except he strive lawfully (2 Tim. ii. 5)." "Blessed is the man," says St. James, "that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him (James i. 12)." If we are sometimes hard pressed by the temptation of the enemy, it will also cheer us to reflect, "that we have a High-priest to help us, who can have compassion on our infinities, having been tempted himself in all things (Heb. iv. 15)."

What we Pray for in this Petition

What, then, do we pray for in this Petition? We pray that the divine assistance may not forsake us, lest having been deceived by the artifice of the wicked one; or worsted in the contest, we should yield to temptation; and that the grace of God may be at hand to succor us when our strength fails, to refresh and invigorate us in our trials.

We should, therefore, implore the divine assistance, in general, against all temptations, and especially when assailed by any particular temptation. This we find to have been the conduct of David, under almost every species of temptation. Against lying, he prays in these words: "Take not thou the word of truth utterly out of my mouth" (Ps. cxviii. 43); against covetousness: "Incline my heart unto they testimonies, and not to covetousness" (Ps. cxviii. 36); and against the vanities of this life, and the allurements of concupiscence, he prays thus: "Turn away my eyes, that they may not behold vanity (Ps. cxviii. 37)."

We pray, therefore, that we yield not to evil desires, and be not wearied in enduring temptation; that we deviate not from the way of the Lord; that in adversity, as in prosperity, we preserve equanimity and fortitude; that God may never deprive us of His protection. Finally, we pray that God may crush Satan beneath our feet.

Reflections which should Accompany this Petition

The pastor ought next to admonish the faithful concerning the chief thoughts and reflections that should accompany this prayer.

I. Distrust of self and Confidence in God

It will, then, be found most efficacious, when offering this Petition that, remembering our weakness, we distrust our own strength; and, that, placing all our hopes of safety in the divine goodness and relying on the divine protection, we encounter the greatest dangers with undaunted courage, calling to mind particularly the many persons animated with such hope and resolution who were delivered by Almighty God from the very jaws of Satan.

When Joseph was assailed by the criminal solicitations of a wicked woman, did not God rescue him from the imminent danger, and exalt him to the highest degree of glory (Gen. xxix. 7)? Did He not preserve Susanna, when beset by the ministers of Satan, and on the point of being made the victim of an iniquitous sentence? Nor should the divine interposition in her behalf excite our surprise; for "her heart," says the Scripture, "trusted in God (Dan. xiii. 61)." How exalted the praise, how great the glory of Job, who triumphed over the world, the flesh, and the devil! There are on record many similar examples to which the pastor should refer, in order to exhort with earnestness his pious hearers to this hope and confidence.

2. Confidence in Christ

The faithful should also reflect under whose standard they fight against the temptations of the enemy; they should remember that their leader is no less a person than Christ the Lord, Who was victorious in the same combat. He overcame the devil; He is that "stronger man" mentioned in the Gospel, who, "coming upon the strong armed man," overcame him, deprived him of his arms, and stripped him of his spoils. Of Christ's victory over the world, we read in St. John: "Have confidence: I have overcome the world (John xvi. 33);" and in the Apocalypse, He is called "the conquering lion" (Apoc. v. 5) and it is said of Him that He went forth conquering that He might conquer, because by His victory He has given power to others to conquer.

The Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews abounds with the victories of holy men, "who by faith conquered kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions," etc. (Heb. xi. 33) While we read of such achievements, we should also take into account the victories which are every day won by men eminent for faith, hope, and charity, in their interior and exterior conflicts with the devil,--victories so numerous and so signal, that, were we spectators of them, we should deem no event of more frequent occurrence, none of more glorious issue. It was with reference to such defeats of the evil spirits that St. John wrote: "I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one (I John ii. 13)."

How Temptation is Overcome

We must, however, remember that Satan is overcome not by indolence, sleep, wine, revelling, or lust; but by prayer, labor, watching, fasting, continence, and chastity. "Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation (Matt. xxvi. 41)," is, as we have already said, the admonition of our Lord. They who make use of these weapons in the conflict are sure to put the enemy to flight; for the devil flees from those who resist him (James iv. 7).

Victory over Temptation is Due to God

But from the consideration of these victories achieved by holy men, let no one indulge feelings of self-complacency, nor flatter himself that, by his own single unassisted exertions, he is able to withstand the temptations and hostile assaults of the devil. This is not within the power of human nature, nor within the capacity of human frailty.

The strength by which we lay prostrate the satellites of Satan comes from God, "Who maketh our arms as a bow of brass; by whose aid the bow of the mighty is overcome, and the weak are girt with strength; Who giveth us the protection of salvation; whose right hand upholdeth us (I Kings ii. 4):" "Who teacheth our hands to war, and our fingers to battle (Ps. xvii. 35)." Hence to God alone must thanks be given for victory, since it is only through His guidance and help that we are able to conquer. To this we are exhorted by the example of the Apostle. "Thanks to God," he says, "Who hath given us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. xv. 57)." The voice from heaven, mentioned in the Apocalypse, also proclaims God to be the author of our victories: "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth; and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (Apoc. xii. 10)." The same book declares that the victory obtained over the world and the flesh belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, when it says: "They shall fight with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them (Apoc. svii. 14)." But enough has now been said on the cause and the manner of conquering temptation.

The Rewards which Await our Victories Over Temptation

When these things have been explained, the pastor should instruct the faithful concerning the crowns prepared by God, and the eternal and superabundant rewards reserved for those who conquer. There are many passages in the Apocalypse bearing on the subject which it will be well to quote. Thus we read: "He that shall overcome shall not be hurt by the second death (Apoc. ii. II);" and in another place: "He that shall over-come, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels (Apoc. iii. 5)." A little after, our divine Lord Himself thus addresses John: "He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go out no more (Apoc. iii. 12);" and again: "To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with Me in My throne; as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in His throne (Apoc. iii. 21)." Finally, having unveiled the glory of the saints, and the never-ending bliss which they shall enjoy in heaven, he adds, "He that shall overcome shall possess these things (Apoc. xxi. 7)."

Sermon by the Rev. L. Ruland, D.D.

I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that
Thou shouldst keep them from evil.--JOHN xvii. 15.

These words form part of the beautiful prayer, recorded by St. John, in which our Lord, just before His Passion, commended His beloved Apostles to His Heavenly Father's care. He prayed that God's blessing and protection might be with them, for He foresaw that they would have to encounter trials, conflicts, doubts and despondency. The surest means of delivering them from all opposition would have been to remove them from this world to the abode of peace and everlasting joy. But such was not our Divine Lord's intention; they were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts i. 8) ; and therefore they must undergo warfare and persecution, although their Heavenly Father would preserve them from ultimate defeat. Our Divine Saviour wishes to provide for us as He provided for them; the powers of evil will assail us in full force, but will not be able to tear us away from the Kingdom of God, for His Fatherly goodness will watch over us until He sees fit to transplant us to the Heavenly abode of peace. Hence we are to pray: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." We are entitled to pray thus, for we know that we are chosen and predestined to glory (Eph. i. 4-7) ; delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His Blood, the remission of sins (Col. i. 13, 14). Through His Blood--this is the price of our Redemption from evil. In this life we shall never appreciate fully the value of this ransom; our feeble intellect cannot grasp the mystery of our Redemption, nor can our hearts realize the intensity of our Saviour's love. We must, however, do our best to thank Him. The Crucifix is the token of our Redemption; let us never look at it without raising our hearts in gratitude to Him: It is the record of His love, which we can never contemplate enough, and from it we may derive all the wisdom that we require, in order to live and die happily.

Sin is the Chief Evil from which we ask Deliverance

Let us today fix our eyes on our Redeemer's Cross. It rises conspicuous on the hill of Golgotha, with the thieves' crosses to the right and left. The view of the city is hidden by an unusual darkness, but the three crosses can be seen plainly. Roman soldiers are keeping back the crowd of onlookers, who have grown silent since the inexplicable gloom came down over Jerusalem, and their voices are hushed, only here and there a coarse jest is uttered by someone in the pay of the Council. Close to the Cross stand our Lady and St. John, and near them is a group of women, who care nothing for the scorn of the hostile mob; all their thoughts are centered on the pitiable spectacle before them. Their gaze is fixed on their crucified Lord, and they cannot refrain from tears. The garments, whose touch sufficed to heal the sick, have been roughly torn off, and lots were cast for His cloak. His Body, bleeding from many wounds, is stretched out on the Cross, the unnatural position causing intense agony. He is parched with fever, and His countenance reveals His mental anguish, for, as He hangs there, He beholds the hideous character of sin more plainly than any human being has ever done, and revolts against it with all the spotless purity of His soul.

Heaven with its host of ministering spirits is veiled from Him during the dreadful hour when evil triumphs, and no sound but cries of ridicule proceeds from the crowd of spectators. At last a faint complaint is heard: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Our Saviour's suffering had reached its limit, and could go no further. Let us bow down in humble adoration, and forbear to search into its causes. If the Crucifixion had not been followed by the Resurrection, we should regard these words as a cry of despair, and see nothing mysterious in them. In that case we should have no Redeemer. But we believe that He Who has suffered and complained was in truth the Son of God, our Saviour. It is clear that what caused the death of the Son of God on Calvary, and what reduced Him to the lowest depth of abandonment was indeed an evil, in comparison with which all other misfortunes are mere trifles. When you ask God to deliver you from evil, you probably mean sickness and death, tempest and pestilence; but our Lord would not have suffered so much to deliver you from these things; the evil from which He delivers us is sin.

When on a starlit night we look up at the heavens, the longer we gaze, the greater is the number of planets revealed to our sight, and we feel impelled to exclaim with the Psalmist: "O Lord our God, how wonderful is Thy name in the whole earth!"

The stars of heaven follow their appointed course to the glory of their Creator, and do not deviate from the orbit assigned them by Divine Wisdom. In comparison with the vastness of the universe man is infinitely small, and the years of his life are as it were a mere breath in comparison with the duration of the heavenly bodies, and yet he occupies a unique position, since to him the Creator imparted a reflection of His own nature, bidding him fulfill his destiny by co-operating freely with the Divine Will. To do this, he must be capable also of resisting and thwarting that will, and Adam exerted this power when he committed the first sin and brought a tendency to evil upon all his posterity. Resistance to the will of God is sin, the greatest evil in the world, because it is opposed to our supreme Lord and Creator. Sin is something so horrible that we cannot fathom it, for to realize the whole malignity of sin would be possible only if we could realize the greatness of God, against whose majesty sin is a rebellion. Therefore, St. Paul speaks of the "mystery of iniquity" working among men.

The Cause of Temptation

Sin is then the real evil from which we pray to be delivered, and temptation, into which we beg our heavenly Father not to lead us, is temptation to sin. This is the greatest danger threatening us in our earthly life. Let us see whence it comes, and how we can escape it, or at least pass through it unscathed. Does temptation come from God, since we ask Him not to lead us into it? No, my brethren, this point is settled once for all by St. James, who writes: "Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and He tempteth no man; but every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. Then when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; but sin, when it is completed, begetteth death. Do not err, therefore, my dearest Brethren" (James i. 13-16). Let us make no mistake about it; temptation proceeds, not from God, but from the corrupt desires of the flesh. In irrational beasts the impulses of nature are controlled by law and time, but in man they are always alive; for man has will and reason wherewith to hold them in check.

There can be no peace and harmony between our sensual impulses and our intellectual faculties, and will and reason must be ever on the alert, if man, the lord of creation, is not to fall into the lowest and most degrading slavery, and become bound with the fetters of sen-suality. Our natural instincts are good when they are guided and governed by reason and will; for God, Who tempts no man, has implanted them in us, so that we may use them in an orderly fashion for the purposes that He ordains. We are only too apt to be carried away by the momentary desire to gratify our natural impulses, and to listen to their allurements, when it is unnecessary for us to do so, and even when they are directly opposed to reason and God's law. Sensuality then rages like a fire, consuming, not preserving life, and those who wish "to see something of life," as they say, soon have that wish gratified. Therefore, "watch ye and pray, that you enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. xxvi. 41). In these simple and yet solemn words our Lord states and solves the difficult problem regarding the incessant warfare between our human nature and God's law. He shows us the way to find peace. It is not enough to be vigilant, if we are to escape the dangers of this life. Even the Apostles slept on the Mount of Olives, and we are only too likely to follow their example. Nor is it enough to pray, if our prayer is not accompanied by any exertion on our part, and to expect miraculous help from above would be rank presumption. No; victory over temptation and the power of sin is to be found in earnest efforts combined with humble prayer to our merciful Father in Heaven, or, in other words, in the active life of faith.

Means of Overcoming Temptation

Watchfulness and prayer require to be taught, and all true education should aim at showing children how to keep watch over their lower instincts besides encouraging and developing all their good qualities and training them to listen to the voice of conscience. This is not, however, enough to enable them to conquer all the dangers and temptations of life, and a more powerful protection is needed than human vigilance and wisdom can supply. This is the protection of God, which David extols so highly, saying: "Thou art my upholder and my refuge; my God, in Him will I hope. . . . He shall overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings shalt thou trust.

. . . He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Ps. xc). How can we secure this protection? Only by means of prayer,--a life of prayer, not an occasional cry for assistance in time of need. Trouble may teach those to pray who would otherwise neglect prayer altogether, but we do not know what value such appeals have in God's sight. Of course it is better that a man should be driven by distress to have recourse to God, than that he should forget Him completely, and we know nothing of God's attitude towards individuals and their petitions, but many people have quite a mistaken opinion of God if they neglect religion as long as all goes well with them, and then pray with all imaginable fervor in times of sickness or distress, saying that if there is a God in heaven, He is bound to help them. Let us not forget that Jesus Christ, Who by example and precept taught us how to pray, even in the hour of His agony in the Garden prayed conditionally: "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matt. xxvi. 39). This prayer was not granted in the sense intended by our Saviour's human nature.

Dispositions with which We Should Make this Prayer

This preservation from falling into temptation is deliverance from evil. The Sixth and Seventh Petitions are most closely connected. At the beginning of our meditation we spoke of the nature of evil, and acknowledged our inability to comprehend it fully. We stood, as it were, aghast at the mysterious malice of evil, and found that only the sight of our dear Saviour on the Cross could give us an idea of the enormity of sin. The neces-sary consequence of sin is exclusion from the contemplation of God, and eternal damnation is the greatest, or, rather, the only true evil that can overtake us. This evil is essentially and inseparably connected with sin. It would be quite wrong to suppose that the condemnation of a sinner was something accidental, that God ordained should be a result of sin, just as here on earth a penalty may be inflicted that has no inherent connection with the offense.

No; condemnation for grievous sin is of the very essence of sin itself. Deliberate rebellion against God involves eternal exclusion from His love; and here we perceive the mystery of evil in all its fearful extent. But let us not despair. Contrasted with it is the mystery of grace; and though we considered the horrible abyss of sin, when we thought of Christ's death on the Cross, we can recognize the mystery of love and grace much more clearly in the light of His triumphant suffering. Once for all He accomplished our release from sin and hell; He saved us from eternal death and made us children of God and heirs of Heaven, "for God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John iii. 16).

With well-grounded confidence we may pray to be delivered from evil, if we are firmly resolved not to receive the grace of God in vain, but to cooperate loyally with it. Our chief anxiety must be deliverance from sin, and it is for this that we pray; but our merciful Father allows us to pray also for release from the temporal evils of life. God may seem not to hear these requests, but we can be sure that He will not try us beyond our powers of endurance, but will turn all the sufferings of this life into channels of grace, and at the last day the Lord, the just Judge, will give the crown of victory to all who have fought a good fight, and kept the faith.