“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”(Genesis 3:6)
The temptation in the garden was one of the greatest defining moments of human history, yet it extends well beyond a singular event involving an apple in a tree and a pair on the ground. Every human being has faced the temptation to use their free will to disobey God. There are only two human beings in existence Who have successfully rejected this temptation every moment one arose. Those two people are, of course, Jesus and His Immaculate Mother. Notice that even the two most radiantly pure human beings were not exempt from experiencing the agony of temptation. Our holiness is not measured by how little we are tempted, but how much we rely on the grace of God in medias res (“in the midst of things.”) When I say “things,” I am referring to the moment of temptation, our immediate response to temptation, and the moment that the temptation is either “satisfied” or has passed.
When Adam and Eve willfully chose to disobey God, they “saw that they were naked” and felt ashamed. And so, they hid from God—the God Who had provided for them, protected them and had given them boundaries for their own good. Instead of turning to the One Who had always been there for them, they hid from Him and dwelt in their own misery. This is sometimes our instinct when we fall into serious sin: to hide our shame from others—especially God. Shame can make prayer in the midst of serious sin especially difficult.
Sometimes when caught in temptation, it is difficult to seek (or frankly, want) God’s grace. When temptation is first stirred up, we have a chance to decide whether to dismiss it or entertain it. From moment to moment, God offers us the grace to choose light, goodness, selflessness and love—which involves sacrifice. When we dwell on our temptations, it may become easy to ignore the very real danger of sin. And after falling into mortal sin** we often despair, or worse, numb our consciences and embrace the habit. If we ever find ourselves in the middle or mortal sin,** it is important never to despair. Never think to yourself that it is “too late,” that you are too “far gone” or that God doesn’t want to hear from a sinner like you. God especially wants to hear from you when you’re tempted (and even while you’re sinning**), so He can teach you how to cease sinning and triumph over your temptation.
We have plenty of ways to power through temptation, all of which involve admitting to our weakness and asking for help. Jesus gave us His beloved Mother so that we may ask for her guidance and her example—especially in frequent meditation on the Rosary. Jesus also instituted the Sacraments to strengthen us in our daily battle between the willing spirit and the weak flesh. Instead of turning to temporal promises of comfort or power, let us remember that Jesus feeds us His very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Why would we settle for the numbing effects of sin, when we can have the lasting, indescribable joy of uniting our poor hearts to the Sacred Heart? And if we do make this miserable error, Jesus made a way for us to expose our own faults, and openly reject them before Him! Jesus longs more than anything to throw out our sin and embrace us. As St. Therese said, “When you approach the Tabernacle, remember that He has been waiting for you for 2000 years.” Jesus is waiting for you. Reject sin, and simply run to Him.
**I advise readers not to allow themselves to reach this point. To adapt Jesus’ words, it is better for you to smash your laptop with a baseball bat than to destroy your soul by making seedy searches.
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