I recently began renewing my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, planning to make that consecration on New Year’s Day, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. As my guide for the 33 day preparation, I use a book called Preparation for Total Consecration. The book leads me through daily meditation and prayer to prepare myself to make this commitment.
I found Tuesday’s reflection surprisingly relevant for the season of Advent. To be honest, I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that Advent is a season of repentance because I have a great anticipation of the babe. This meditation served as a helpful approach to repentance by first addressing temptation. I thought you might equally benefit from it.
It comes from In Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, which I highly recommend. Written by a German Augustinian monk and mystic in 1418, it was first published in 1471 and has been translated into 50 languages. St. Ignatius of Loyola read a chapter of this book each day of his life. St. Therese of Lisieux memorized it before entering the Carmel. Thomas Merton referenced it as one of the steps towards his conversion to Catholicism.
In Imitation of Christ is divided into four different books, each written at varying times. It is a series of reflections on the on the life of Jesus and his teachings and is said to be second only to the Bible as a guide and inspiration in the spiritual life.
Book One — Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul
Book Two — The Interior Life
Book Three — Internal Consolation
Book Four — An Invitation to Holy Communion
The meditation I’d like to share is from Book 1, Chapter 13. Take some time to let the words penetrate as they apply to your preparation for the coming of Christ once again at Christmas.
May God bless you and keep you, Anne
SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7:1) Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us — in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness.
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.
Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.
Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.” First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.
When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.
Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones. (Source)