The demons’ 3 methods

1st Sunday of Lent
Friends in Christ.
One day a while back, I was looking on-line for a priest alb – that’s the white vestment we wear under the chasuble – so I checked out some at an on-line store for priests; later that week, I was looking up the weather online, and in the advertisements to the right, there was an alb !  I was quite surprised. Speaking to someone about this, they tell me that the advertisers collect information on what you are looking at, to keep track of what interests you, so that they can tempt you with just the right product.
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Well, thinking about this, this is exactly what the devil does with us. He collects, over the years, a record of our past actions and interests; and so he knows which temptations might work on us. He has different types of temptations for different people.
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In the devil’s army, there are three groups of demons who fight on the front lines.[i] One group is composed of specialists, who tempt us with sensual desires; another group tempts us to greed; and the others are specialists in pride. These are the three leading attacks of the demons, all the others follow after these.
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Today in the Gospel, we see the temptations that Jesus underwent in the desert. Why did Jesus undergo this? He wanted to show us that we can also be victorious over the devil’s temptations.
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Christ is fasting in the desert, and so the devil tempts him: ‘turn these stones into bread,’ then you can eat all you want! He could easily do it if he wanted to. And he is soooo hungry from fasting – but instead, he shoos away the devil by saying, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’
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So that was a sensual temptation; sensual temptations are those of the body: we wish to eat too much, gluttony; we are tempted to sexual desire or impure thoughts; laziness, lying around, oversleeping; or to drink too much, get drunk. (By the way, it is a mortal sin to get drunk [ii])
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So, sensual temptations, of the body – this is one of the 3 main types of temptation. Our Lord shows us by his example, that we should immediately shoo away such things and tell the devil to get lost! As the saints tell us, in the area of sensual temptation, the victor, – the winner – is the one who runs away. If we have an impure thought for example, we must not ponder it at all, but immediately pray, and turn our mind to something else.
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Overeating, oversleeping, wasting our time – all of this leads to many other sins, including impure sins. Christ shows us that an important way to fight sensual sins is by fasting – by eating less, which we do during Lent.
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In the 2nd temptation of Christ, the devil shows Our Lord all the kingdoms of the world; the vast wealth of the world. ‘All this can be yours,’ he says.
It is true: if Christ had wished, he could have made himself a king with any riches he wanted: diamonds, rubies, luxury palaces, beautiful clothes – Here is the temptation of greed. We are tempted to fill our heart with created things, with material things, and this is an endless program.
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If you meet people who live in the 3rd world, in poverty, you will find they are often very happy. The suicide rate among young people is very high in the US and Europe – but very low in poor countries. The more we try to fill our heart with material things, the less happy we are, they leave us empty, because what we need, is God.
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Some people are obsessed with material things; those shoes that she wants – she can’t stop thinking about them – ‘I must have them!!’ This is to make them into a god. Then we have bowed down to Satan. But this is why it is good to give up something for Lent, it strengthens us.
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The 3rd temptation of Christ is pride. ‘Then the devil led him up high, to the parapet of the temple, and said, jump off of here and have the angels save you. It will impress everyone to see this amazing event.’ Pride tempts us to show off, to think we are better than others.
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Pride can be interior, as in those who act as victims and are always seeking pity or attention; or pride can be exterior, like those who are pompous or braggarts.
You know, I don’t understand people who put a bumper sticker ’26.2’ on their car, maybe you’ve seen them. It means they’ve run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles. So, what is all this bragging about? Nothing against marathoners, but I never see bumper stickers that say ‘I earned a PhD, or I bench-pressed 500 pounds.’ It all seems rather vain.
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Garrigou-Lagrange says, we must not praise ourselves; by so doing, we soil ourselves. People praise themselves, when they think they are not sufficiently praised by others, but this makes us look ridiculous, and we lose the merit of our good actions. The antidote to pride is humility. Humility today is one of the rarest, but most beautiful virtues.
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We see therefore that there are three chief groups of demons against us, and after them follow the whole army of the Enemy with their temptations. They have studied us, and they use their methods – but as Jesus demonstrates, with his strength, united to him, we can easily conquer the Enemy.
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We are beginning Lent; we do some self-denial, we go to confession; it is the time to battle our demons and go against our weaknesses and desires. But we should do it with confidence. St. Paul tells us that if we do it with the Lord, ‘God will speedily crush Satan under our feet.’
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May the Blessed Virgin help us this Lent, to obtain many victories over the Enemy for the glory and praise of God.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Mother Duzdik]

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[i] Philokalia, p. 38

[ii]  Thomas Aquinas says: ‘To take more meat or drink than is necessary belongs to the vice of gluttony, which is not always a mortal sin, but knowingly to take too much drink to the point of being drunk, is a mortal sin. Summa theological, Q. 150 a2.  Also, scripture says that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor 6:10

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