See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Feast Day Devils...



I often forget that temptations happen for a reason, to try us, test us, and prove us.  Temptations are also a form of chastisement or penance, and they offer us a chance to grow in virtue - and when that fails - in humility and self-knowledge. 
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I always figure if I go too long without temptation - something is off.  The devil delights in complacency and self assurance... self satisfaction... self righteousness...  all of the self-isms I imagine myself to be free of.  He loves it when I watch 2-1/2 Men for instance - it's a nasty, dirty little sit-com, glorifying dysfunction, alcoholism, abuse and sexual immorality.  The sex talk alone can be a near occasion of sin.  But it is just a show, huh?  I digress.  I only mention it to point out that we just might be lolly-gagging around enough, drunk in our lukewarm satisfaction, peacefully free of any obvious temptations - because we're immersed in them.
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Then when we decide to do something for Lent, or keep a black fast, change our life-style, or celebrate a religious feast day after a long arduous novena - or even just head out for Mass or confession - sometimes the devil sends out his swat team after us:  these are Feast Day Devils.  They can be as annoying as little flies we swat away over and over, sometimes getting more and more annoyed - to the point of distraction and/or actual sin; or they can be some great big naked person we noticed outside, sunbathing in the yard on our way home from Confession, Mass and adoration.  (Many years ago that happened to me.  LOL!  If only I had just driven on instead of circling the block.  No, nothing happened - it all took place in the heart. Mtt. 5: 27-28)
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So anyway - when we try to do our best, we get tried.  As Scripture says, "When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials."   Thus today many people who had the best intentions to observe Lent like a saint will perhaps find themselves sorely tempted to eat meat, break a fast, get drunk, smoke a cigarette, tell off a co-worker, or do whatever - that is just natural, common, plain ordinary temptation - it's part of the experience.  It is an aspect of penance or ascesis.  Sometimes it's the feast day devils, sometimes it is just the world or the flesh - and of course it can be all three at once.  Penance isn't easy.
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If worse comes to worse and we fall, fail, trip, sin, what have you - we can repent.  God loves a humble and contrite heart more than our sacrifices.  He approves the lowly and afflicted man, not the haughty Pharisee who does every thing right and knows every thing.  Temptations help us to know what we are and teaches us to place our confidence in God.  Others may have their works and virtues and knowledge and prayers and everything that is holy - we have our confidence in God.
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Maybe just offer up your failures for Lent.
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Art:  Fernando Botero, Self-portrait First Communion Day  

7 comments:

  1. This is one of your best.
    But it's Lent, so don't let it go to your head.:)

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  2. michael r.6:37 PM

    Very good advice. After a fall, we can start over again. That's the beauty of the Church.

    "... or they can be some great big naked person we noticed outside, sunbathing in the yard on our way home from Confession, Mass and adoration." -- grinning ear to ear. I live high up on a private ridge, and when I sunbath I'm not visible, so I can't be the occasion for someone else's sin...

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  3. 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me."

    We must go into poverty before we can arise through Faith and follow the Lord.

    And when we begin our walk in the ways of the Lord, be pleasing as Abraham was to Him.

    Something in the heart of Abraham made him pleasing to the Lord.

    That something was Abraham's insistence on bringing a sinner to the Promised Land with him.

    His Charity called him to beg before God on behalf of those who had sinned, just as Moses begged on behalf of the stiff-necked Jews.

    Because of this, God blessed him with descendants as numerous as the stars.

    As you sit before the Blessed Sacrament, cry out 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me."

    When the Lord asks what it is you want Him to do, tell Him you want those that have harmed you to repent and convert.

    Thank him for removing the arrow from the heart of your soul.

    *

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  4. This is spot on. Stuff always happens to me on Holy Days. I thought I was just crazy but after talking to someone earlier today, and now reading this maybe I'm not so off. Serious stuff too. We were preparing to attend All Saints Day Mass when my daughter, who climbs trees all of the time, this one time falls out of a tree and breaks her arm. Obviously we had to go to the hospital ASAP so were not able to attend Mass that day. Fast forward a few months to Ash Wednesday, again preparing for a noon Mass, and my husband, who was fixing our broken garage door opener (was a finally a decent day weather wise)comes in the house, dripping with blood as he had gotten caught up in the chain and cut off the end of his finger. Again we were off to the hospital and didn't get to church. Other than to deliver our kids we haven't had to rush to the hospital on any other days. Isn't that strange? Don't get me started on temptation. I am so lazy.

    Jennifer

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  5. Great post! Love sunbathing..err..

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