The Real Reason God Permits Temptation

Isn’t it funny (and annoying) that those things you gave up for Lent seem to present themselves way more often than normal? People keep offering you that frothy beer or fancy dessert, and you have to give it the old “just say no” Nancy Reagan routine.

And I don’t know about you, but it’s ridiculous how hard I often find it.

(Perhaps traveling to the land of biscotti and cappuccino on pilgrimage during Lent wasn’t my brightest idea.)

Even so, God uses temptations to our great advantage in Lent, as well as the rest of the year.

How? Why?

Well, temptation comes from the Latin tentare, which means “to try” or “to test.” So temptations are a tool God uses to see how we measure up.

“Matthew! Are you saying God actually causes temptation? Doesn’t James 1:13 says, God “tempts no one”?

Yes, it does.

We’re talking here about what are called “temptations of probation” – special trials allowed by God that aren’t encouragement to sin.

(The kind that come from the Devil are called “temptations of solicitation,” with which we’ll deal another time.)

Think of guys like Job and Abraham, or even St. Joseph.

They experienced trials. And so do we.

Why?

It’s pretty simple. God is testing the quality of our love.

He wants to know if you only say you love him at Mass (or on Fat Tuesday), or if you really love Him when the rubber meets the road.

(Of course, he already knows because he’s closer to us than we are to ourselves, as Augustine said. But we still have the free will to act one way or the other. As St. John Chrysostom says, “For we must first choose the good; and then He leads us to His own. He does not anticipate our choice, lest our free-will should be outraged.”)

The great early 20th century theologian, Fr. Francis Remler calls temptations of probation a spiritual acid test.

They expose us like nitric acid poured over fool’s gold.

After all, a lot of people look virtuous.

They’ve got a big breviary with ribbons. A first-class relic of St. Jerome is embedded in the full-grained Italian leather cover of their limited edition Hebrew-Greek Interlinear Bible.

They can even pray over their meal in Latin.

But as far as God’s concerned, actions speak louder than a “Hammer of Heresies” tattoo peeking out from behind a rolled-up shirt sleeve.

He wants to know the true state of your virtue.

That’s the role of these kinds of temptations. God permits them because He wants to know if you practice what you preach.

That’s part of the value of Lent. It’s like a 40 day pass to a spiritual gym.

It’s a time to get pumped up.

And if you aren’t working out your spiritual muscles on a day-to-day basis, you’re going to become a 98lb. spiritual weakling.

I guess you could call God your personal spiritual fitness coach. And by permitting temptation, he not only gets you fit, but provides opportunities to flex your mystical muscle…not for your glory, but for His.

“In this you rejoice,” says St. Peter, “though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pt 1:6-7)

So keep smiling and saying “no thank you” when the dessert tray comes your way in this penitential season.

You’re building virtue that will help you resist larger (and perhaps more dangerous) temptations in the future.

God bless you.

Matthew

P.S. It’s coming! CLICK HERE to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

The most dynamic, clearest path to spiritual transformation you’ll find anywhere.” – Mike Aquilina, Author & EWTN Personality

085: Discerning God’s Will with St. Ignatius of Loyola

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Decisions, decisions…

Life holds a lot of options and it’s often hard to know which way to go, especially when it comes to serious, life-changing matters.

Thankfully, we’ve got help.

St. Ignatius of Loyola penned his famous Spiritual Exercises to enable people to discern the spirits – discern God’s will for their lives. And the great thing is that’s it’s not pie-in-the-sky.

It’s super practical and down-to-earth.

In fact, understanding his Exercises can save you a lot of headache and heartache.

So join me and one of the most intelligent and holy priests I know, Fr. Aaron Pidel, SJ, for an in-depth discussion of St. Ignatius and his guide for our lives.

We’re covering:

  • A bit of the (wild and wooly) background of St. Ignatius
  • His massive conversion
  • An overview of the famous Spiritual Exercises
  • How Ignatius allows feelings to come into play without them taking over
  • The massive role of consolations and desolations
  • Practical discernment of God’s will

Given my love of spiritual theology, this is an episode that is extremely close to my heart. I know you’re going to get a lot out of it.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. I make a BIG announcement at the beginning of the podcast. Here’s a little teaser…

It’s coming! Click here to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

P.P.S. I’m heading back to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!



084: Heresy or Holy? The Question of Marian Consecration

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“‘Slaves of Mary?’ Are you kidding me?”

That was my first (second, third…tenth) reaction to the words of St. Louis de Montfort in True Devotion to Mary, the classic text on our topic. 

The whole idea of consecrating yourself to anyone other than Jesus Christ made zero sense to me.

Not anymore.

I now understand and completely embrace the whole idea of consecration to Our Lady. And I can tell you from experience that it’s life-changing.

It can change yours, too.

So join me for a conversation on the deep power and beauty of Marian consecration with Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. Among other things, we’re going to discuss:

  • Why Protestants automatically reject Marian consecration as heretical
  • The deep theology underlying Marian consecration
  • How Scripture lays the foundation for Marian consecration
  • Our Lady’s intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit
  • The connection between the Immaculate Conception and Marian consecration
  • How Marian consecration is related to Baptism

Have a blessed Advent! Ave Maria!

Matthew

P.S. I’m leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jim Caviezel, star of The Passion of the Christ!

We’ll also be joined by Fr. Don Calloway and John Michael Talbot! It’s going to be epic!

CLICK HERE for details!

P.P.S. If you’d rather go to Italy, I’m heading there on pilgrimage, too!

Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more! CLICK HERE for details!

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