The Conversion of St. Augustine by Fra Angelico, Wikimedia Commons
Fighting our temptations
Our latest chat room discussion wrestles with the topic of temptation, the best way to recognize it, and whether we should confront it or not. Is virtue simply avoiding vice, or is it something more? We also consider the love of money, faith, and the desires of our hearts. And, finally, can we be overly concerned with the purity of our faith? Find out in this enlightening discussion.
If you like the chat below, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us every week! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and gather at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday online. Great insights and sharing!
Visitation Sister: We are a little early so we can just get to know one another before we begin discussions if you like, or ask me any question.
Lucy: I have attended here a few times in the past as a guest, thought I’d try to come in early this time to get the login set up.
Visitation Sister: Glad it worked!
Lucy: Where is your monastery located?
Visitation Sister: Brooklyn, New York.
Visitation Sister: We are in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, near the ocean and NY Harbor.
Cindy: Good evening - just dropping in to thank you for this topic and the meditation for this week. I stayed up late this morning to attend Mass in person, then had difficulty falling asleep. So, unfortunately, I really must sleep for a few hours before working overnight. I will appreciate reflecting on chat later and look forward to being with you again soon!
Visitation Sister: OK!
Growing in Virtue
Visitation Sister: Question 1: How can we have a healthy focus on avoiding vice and growing in virtue without becoming scrupulous about sin and vice?
Visitation Sister: That word vice is something we don’t use much except in the show the Vice Squad.
Visitation Sister: But it is something we need to think about, while not becoming too anxious or scrupulous.
Visitation Sister: Scrupulosity is a real burden to a soul.
Denise: Sometimes we receive a grace to see sin for what it is and how it has been in our life. also praying for the grace to so.
Lucy: I have often noted that the mind really cannot – not think – of something. If you tell someone to not think of ice cream, that is exactly what they think of, so in trying to avoid thinking about a vice, we are in fact thinking about it.
Visitation Sister: Good point, so then, what approach could we take?
Visitation Sister: Maybe focusing on virtue?
Visitation Sister: Just wondering.
Visitation Sister: The next questions are related to what you just said.
Bethany: The word of Jesus became flesh and dwelt in us to those who trust him as the true savior he gave us power to become the children of God.
Lucy: I like the approach of St Francis in acknowledging it, but not beating yourself up over it.
Visitation Sister: Question 2: Do you find it ironic that in order to avoid vice, we need to have a healthy focus on it (And not just ignore it or be in denial that it exists)? And does this perpetuate its existence?
Visitation Sister: See how those questions mirror your point?
Lucy: If we look at our part in it being there, do what we are responsible for in not contributing to it, then offering it to God with our desire to only do His will.
Denise: St Francis says: Believe me, don’t be afraid of temptations, and whatever you do don’t touch them, they will not do you any damage; go on, right past them, and don’t linger over them. so perhaps we should not take every thought and hold onto it.
Visitation Sister: Yes, it is often said in prayer re: distractions we should let them be or let them buzz about with no attention to wipe them away like flies.
Visitation Sister: From St Francis: Not long ago I was near some beehives and a few bees came and settled on my face. I wanted to raise my hand and brush them off. No, said a peasant to me, don’t be afraid, and whatever you do don’t touch them, they will attack you. I trusted his word and not a single one stung me. Believe me, don’t be afraid of temptations, and whatever you do don’t touch them, they will not do you any damage; go on, right past them, and don’t linger over them.
Visitation Sister: Regarding vice, I think we need to know the enemy so to speak and maybe just being aware of something that is wrong can be enough to prompt us to the correct or moral or right way or thing.
Gina: I liked your thought on distraction in prayer. God knows we are just human.
Visitation Sister: Yes, and St Francis used to say he was one of the most human humans!
Lucy: I work a lot in the flower gardens and with a fishpond there also I get hundreds of bees daily. It is easier to simply work around them without taking any particular notice when you accept that you and they have your own part in the balance of the garden. Even those things which you want to protect yourself from, often have a reason, and resting on God’s protection is a much more peaceful position to work from.
Louise: I have been reading a lot, commenting little.
Visitation Sister: Good example, Lucy, and let the Lord help us.
Louise: I think – other than food, my biggest temptation is?
Louise: I don’t know??
Louise: Not denying myself more?
Gina: Just being aware of something is wrong. I went to toss an old speaker in the trash. We are not supposed to dispose of electronics. So, God let me get my finger caught and scratched up while I put it in the container. I immediately took it out to dispose of it properly and thanked God. Stupid little thing, but just a divine nudge.
Visitation Sister: Good example also, Gina.
The Love of Money
Visitation Sister: Next question: How often do people sin with money? There is the unhealthy obsession with gaining too much wealth (the “love of money”) but on the opposite side there is the unhealthy obsession with having enough money and avoiding poverty; both seem to be a love of money of sorts. How do we find the balance?
Louise: By proper planning!
Louise: Living within your means.
Visitation Sister: Planning, like a budget, you mean? Ah yes.
Louise: And simply not wanting things.
Denise: A budget sounds like a good idea.
Louise: Yes, a budget – you know how much you have – and you know what you have to pay each month – anticipate the unexpected and plan for things like glasses and dental.
Visitation Sister: Even with the vow of poverty money enters our world and when you have a huge Monastery to run, you must depend on God because otherwise money will be a focus with the large bills for oil, etc.
Visitation Sister: We pray a lot so there is balance in our day between the practical needs and the spiritual relationship with the Lord.
Denise: For lack of a budget, I overspent early this month. So, it has been difficult, and I’ve found myself thinking about money more than I usually do.
Lucy: I find it helpful to remember that the money is not really mine, but my responsibility to make sure it gets where it needs to be. This makes it easier to both pay the bill and to give it away, and if there is some left for fun, then that is a blessing that I can be thankful for.
Louise: Money doesn’t usually cause me terrible worry. If I run short, I just do the best I can and catch up. You just don’t let things get out of control.
Louise: I find that regular prayer – uninterrupted prayer – helps in every way.
Visitation Sister: When you take solemn vows, as I did and had a bank account, how to disperse your money before solemn vows became a preoccupation, but not for long.
Louise: I would just give it to my children.
Gina: How did you decide?
Louise: Money is trouble mostly but something you have to deal with.
Louise: It’s there and it has to be used, but it’s like taking out the trash – has to be done and if not done well – you will have a big stink.
Visitation Sister: I prayed about how to disperse the money and had some favorite charities too.
Denise: The first paragraph in his letter is beautiful and important.
Visitation Sister: Do you want to paste the first paragraph in Denise for us.
Denise: Yes, I will Sister.
Denise: … Your temptations have returned, and although you do not enter into argument with them, they besiege you. You do not answer them, and that is right; but you think about them too much, you fear them too much, you are too apprehensive: else they would not do you any harm. You are too vulnerable to the assault of temptations. You love faith and you do not want to have a single thought contrary to the faith, and as soon as one crops up you are upset and scared. You cling too jealously to the purity of your faith, and you feel that any little thing can spoil it. No, no, dear daughter, let the wind blow freely, and don’t mistake the rustling of leaves for the clash of armor.
The Desires of Our Hearts
Visitation Sister: Question 4: Why should we serve God despite whether he grants us the desires of our hearts?
Denise: So, we should realize we are human and have failings, yet we have our faith so do not allow those assaults to worry us so much.
Gina: Our hearts don’t know better than He does!
Louise: Oh my – my heart’s desires usually get me into so much trouble! He knows what I want in my heart of hearts, and if he doesn’t give it there is a reason -- and I thank Him!!
Visitation Sister: So true! HIS HEART contains all.
Caroline: As He draws us closer, we want less.
Visitation Sister: Yes, and we want HIM more!
Louise: I have everything I need if I have God.
Visitation Sister: As we grow spiritually, we move ever closer to wanting His Will for us.
Caroline: I can look it up now. For some reason I am no longer receiving the weekly readings email.
Louise: Do not be disturbed at every little upset – focus on the task at hand and what needs to be done. All will work out as God wills.
Gina: Try reading the Litany of Humility and then avoid scrupulosity. That prayer will make us all feel so unworthy….
Visitation Sister: Or sign up again Caroline, or I can have the webmaster check for you.
Louise: Litany of Humility is very powerful!
Louise: You get what you ask for when you ask sincerely with regards to humility.
Caroline: Okay, I got a new login yesterday, maybe that will help.
Louise: My priest says: ask for what you want, Louise.
Caroline: I use the litany of humility followed by the litany of trust every day. He is moving mountains in me.
Visitation Sister: I guess the litany is too long to post here. I have a copy in my breviary.
Louise: I feel like a fish out of water in the world- in the monastery – it is where my heart is. Where I am most with and for God.
Louise: And that is all I want / need.
Visitation Sister: Question 5: Did it resonate with you hearing Saint Francis de Sales (over 400 years ago) mention the feast day of St. Augustine (Aug. 28)? How might this bespeak of the catholicity of Catholicism?
Louise: I love that the church is apostolic. The links of a long chain that connect us to Christ.
Visitation Sister: “Today is the feast of St. Augustine and you can imagine that I prayed to his Master for you and also to God’s servant and his mother. How greatly my soul loves yours! Go on putting your trust in my soul and loving it. It is God’s will, dear daughter, I am quite certain; and he will use this love for his glory. May he be our heart, daughter, and I am in him, and by his will, all yours. Live joyfully and be generous; that is what God whom we love and to whom we are dedicated wants us to be. It is he who gave.
Visitation Sister: That’s the quote the question refers to from the letter.
Denise: It is interesting he says go on putting your trust in my soul and loving it.
Visitation Sister: The Visitation Nuns follow the Rule of St Augustine.
Visitation Sister: He is our “grandfather” so to speak.
Visitation Sister: Denise, I think he speaks to St Jane. They were great spiritual friends.
Louise: They were able to express a deep spiritual love in a way that we cannot in our world today without fear of it being broadcasted and twisted.
Visitation Sister: Very true Louise.
Caroline: https://youtu.be/F9ap0DaiJyY. Litany of trust.
Denise: Thank you, Caroline.
The Purity of Faith
Visitation Sister: Question 6: I think this question is difficult: What do you think St. Francis meant when he said, “You cling too jealously to the purity of your faith….”?
Caroline: By trying to preserve it ourselves we are in danger of losing it.
Caroline: I mean that we put our focus on what we do, not what He does.
Louise: Being over-scrupulous I think is a hazard, we all kind of have to work through at first –.
Visitation Sister: This is the quote from the question: I think Denise also posted it a while back: “You love faith and you do not want to have a single thought contrary to the faith, and as soon as one crops up you are upset and scared. You cling too jealously to the purity of your faith, and you feel that any little thing can spoil it. No, no, dear daughter, let the wind blow freely, and don’t mistake the rustling of leaves for the clash of armor.”
Visitation Sister: One must remember that ST JANE LIVED WITH TEMPTATIONS AGAINST THE FAITH FOR MANY YEARS WHILE STILL UPHOLDING THE FAITH.
Gina: Faith is still a gift. We need to let God do His part in bringing us closer. We can’t just will it. We can’t do it alone.
Visitation Sister: Yes, good point. And clinging is not freedom, or liberty of spirit, though how that works in the realm of faith I have not thought about.
Rebecca: True, but our will may be all that is in our control, to some extent at least. But even that is GIFT — and probably impacted more than we imagine by biochemistry!
Louise: I was controlled by fear for a long time – some reasonable and some unreasonable. When I finally was able to purge my fears a calm and peacefulness takes over and you are stronger than you ever thought.
Visitation Sister: Another blessing!
Louise: Discover what fears you have and confront them.
Visitation Sister: Great advice!
Gina: I have been told that fear can be a lack of trust that God will always do what is best for us…. even the tough stuff we have to get through. If we truly trust, what are we really afraid of, Louise? (Spoken by a person who understands completely what fear is.)
Caroline: It can be good to have a spiritual director help with this.
Visitation Sister: To identify source of fears?
Bethany: Grow in faith in Jesus, that is important.
Visitation Sister: St Francis said to St Jane: You are too frightened of temptations; that is the only thing that is wrong. Make up your mind that all the temptations of hell could not possibly stain a soul that does not love them; so just let them have their course.
Gina: There is such a lack of spiritual directors where I am. The parish is huge with 4 priests and 4 deacons and no one offers spiritual direction.
Caroline: It is a huge problem everywhere.
Caroline: Pray to be given a good one and you will find one.
Gina: That is the one thing I haven’t done…so simple. Thank you, Caroline.
Louise: Yes – exactly. My trust in God needs to grow. It was like a gradual releasing of clenched fists for me – and over time I was able to let go. So wonderful to have God.
Caroline: I just make it sound easy. I had to pray for a year!
Louise: To be able to trust Him completely.
Visitation Sister: May each of you be especially blessed this week. Stay well!
Caroline: Bless you Sr. Susan Marie!
Gina: God bless All.
Denise: God bless you, Sr Susan.
Louise: Good Night!
Louise: Ave Maria!
Denise: Good night everyone. Peace be with you all.
Caroline: Peace be with you, Denise.
Caroline: Good night!
If you liked this chat, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters.