At the Heart of All Temptation

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At the heart of all temptations … is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundation; refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion – that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms.
Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil – no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us – power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs.
God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves? The God question is the fundamental question, and it sets us down right at the crossroads of human existence.
* This excerpt is from “Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration” by Pope Benedict XVI</blockquote>

PDF Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus, the Desert,Temptation – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

<blockquote>First of all, the desert, where Jesus withdrew to, is the place of silence, of poverty, where man is deprived of material support and is placed in front of the fundamental questions of life, where he is pushed to towards the essentials in life and for this very reason it becomes easier for him to find God. But the desert is also a place of death, because where there is no water there is no life, and it is a place of solitude where man feels temptation more intensely. Jesus goes into the desert, and there is tempted to leave the path indicated by God the Father to follow other easier and worldly paths (cf. Lk 4:1-13). So he takes on our temptations and carries our misery, to conquer evil and open up the path to God, the path of conversion.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>In reflecting on the temptations Jesus is subjected to in the desert we are invited, each one of us, to respond to one fundamental question: what is truly important in our lives? In the first temptation the devil offers to change a stone into bread to sate Jesus’ hunger. Jesus replies that the man also lives by bread but not by bread alone: ​​without a response to the hunger for truth, hunger for God, man can not be saved (cf. vv. 3-4). In the second, the devil offers Jesus the path of power: he leads him up on high and gives him dominion over the world, but this is not the path of God: Jesus clearly understands that it is not earthly power that saves the world, but the power of the Cross, humility, love (cf. vv. 5-8). In the third, the devil suggests Jesus throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and be saved by God through his angels, that is, to do something sensational to test God, but the answer is that God is not an object on which to impose our conditions: He is the Lord of all (cf. vv. 9-12). What is the core of the three temptations that Jesus is subjected to? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use Him for his own interests, for his own glory and success. So, in essence, to put himself in the place of God, removing Him from his own existence and making him seem superfluous. Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?</blockquote>
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<blockquote>Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. “Conversion”, an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing” our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The major conversions like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or St. Augustine, are an example and stimulus, but also in our time when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God’s grace is at work and works wonders in life of many people. The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem engulfed by secularization, as was the case for the Russian Orthodox Pavel Florensky. After acompletely agnostic education, to the point he felt an outright hostility towards religious teachings taught in school, the scientist Florensky came to exclaim: “No, you can not live without God”, and to change his life completely, so much so he became a monk.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>I also think the figure of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she found Him looking deep inside herself and wrote: “There is a well very deep inside of me. And God is in that well. Sometimes I can reach Him, more often He is covered by stone and sand: then God is buried. We must dig Him up again “(Diary, 97). In her scattered and restless life, she finds God in the middle of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah. This young fragile and dissatisfied woman, transfigured by faith, becomes a woman full of love and inner peace, able to say: “I live in constant intimacy with God.”</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The ability to oppose the ideological blandishments of her time to choose the search for truth and open herself up to the discovery of faith is evidenced by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. In her autobiography, she confesses openly to having given in to the temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal: “I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail, write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!”. The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless, as she points out: “It is certain that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of prayer … “. God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>In our time there are no few conversions understood as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, moved away from the faith for years and then rediscovered Christ and his Gospel. In the Book of Revelation we read: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me”(3, 20). Our inner person must prepare to be visited by God, and for this reason we should allow ourselves be invaded by illusions, by appearances, by material things.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>From Ash Wednesday General Audience 2-13-2013</blockquote>

The Pope’s Painful Liturgies – Ethika Politika.

 

I like the way the author of this piece looked beneath the surface of appearance for both the reason and the end, when making his observations and examining his own conceptions.

The Pope’s Painful Liturgies – Ethika Politika.

“The pain I experience with seeing the new pope’s liturgies is probably more the result of his intense joy at all other times. I sense acutely that my desire to serve is much thinner than my affection for a beautiful Mass. And I’m aware that the joy I know is possible through a sacramental encounter with the Lord is not often enough reflected in my life with family and with others.”read more via The Pope’s Painful Liturgies – Ethika Politika.

PODCAzT 135: Encyclical Letter “Lumen fidei” – AUDIO files of entire encyclical | Fr. Z’s Blog

via PODCAzT 135: Encyclical Letter “Lumen fidei” – AUDIO files of entire encyclical | Fr. Z’s Blog.

Posted on 7 July 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Writes Fr. Z:

In my desire to get my ears and mind around the new encyclical, Lumen fidei, of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, to sort the “voices” and get to know the trajectory of its arguments, I decided to read it aloud.

Wanna hear?PODCAzT 135: Encyclical Letter “Lumen fidei” – AUDIO files of entire encyclical | Fr. Z’s Blog

Father Fessio’s Pope Benedict | Daily News | NCRegister.com

Father Fessio’s Pope Benedict XVI

A Way With Words

Father Fessio soon learned that the same luminous clarity enlivened Father Ratzinger’s published works.

“Back in 1968, when he published the Introduction to Christianity, the prose was already there,” said Father Fessio, referring to a work that remains a key textbook for graduate theological studies.

When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was completed in 1992, during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, Father Fessio reviewed the text and immediately noticed that it bore signs of Joseph Ratzinger’s distinctive ability to synthesize challenging material. At the time, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was the president of the catechism’s Preparatory Commission, which worked for six years to complete the project.

“When I first received the Catechism, I spent a whole retreat meditating on the Table of Contents — it was so beautiful. The Catechism wasn’t just a summary or a book of lists, it presented the faith as an organic whole,” said Father Fessio.

After his mentor was elected pope, Catholics across the globe had their first taste of Benedict’s literary gifts.

“Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world — this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present encyclical,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est, his first encyclical.

“He is like a painter using his palette to produce a portrait,” said Father Fessio, noting that the Pope also managed to work his magic in collaborative synodal documents as well as his encyclicals.

“He uses simple images — light and dark. You notice the same thing when you open up The Lord of the Rings and begin reading a paragraph: The majority of words are one syllable, and they convey profound thoughts and emotions.”

Thus, when Pope Benedict was enthroned in 2005, “he talked about the pallium, and, when he spoke to the cardinals, he noted that red is for martyrdom.”

Same Man, Different Settings

Over the course of more than 40 years, Father Fessio has stayed in touch with his former professor, meeting with other students from Regensburg for annual gatherings and collaborating on a variety of projects. During that time, the priest said, he has witnessed very little change in the man who will resign from the Petrine office on Feb. 28.

“He was always a theologian of the Church,” he said. “I saw the same man doing the same thing in different settings. He is a faithful servant, and Blessed John Paul II relied on him a good deal.

“But look how the liturgy changed as soon as Benedict was made pope. Chant was introduced. It means that he was not in favor of the kind of liturgies that Pope John Paul II celebrated, but he accepted it. And when he was pope, he acted differently.”

Indeed, while media commentators still dredge up Cardinal Ratzinger’s nickname of “God’s Rottweiler” from his days as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father Fessio has “never heard him raise his voice. He was always a listener, even at the CDF.”

“I wouldn’t call him shy; I would call him reserved. He is not someone who would enjoy a cocktail party,” said Father Fessio.

“Yes, he is firm. He has tremendous confidence because he has confidence in Christ. Friendship in Christ: It is the bass note in all his work.”

The resulting spiritual serenity sustained him amid the tumultuous decades following the Second Vatican Council, when the German cardinal sparked animosity by insisting that the Council did not constitute a break with the continuity of Catholic Tradition.

Father Fessio recalled a remark the Pope made during a meeting some time after his election.

Another Catholic publisher asked the Holy Father why only Ignatius Press was publishing his works. Father Fessio recalled  that the Pope calmly responded, “Because when no one else cared, they published my works.’”

When Father Fessio learned that the Pope would resign during Lent, he quickly grasped the significance of his timing.

“He was born during Holy Week,” he said. “And I am confident he chose the time for his resignation because he wanted the next pope as an ‘Easter’ pope, with time for reflection.”

Added Father Fessio, “His life begins and ends with the Paschal mystery.”

Joan Frawley Desmond is the Register’s senior editor.

Read more: Pope Benedict | Daily News | NCRegister.com.

Thank You Pope Benedict from the Church – Add Yours

Here are some sentiments and great love:- Just Click to add yours on the Thank You Pope Benedict Blog:

12TH FEB 2013

Holy Father, my heart swells with love and admiration.  You are   an encouraging spiritual father to this world in pain and suffering, for you remind us of our destiny in Christ Jesus Who loves us, everyone.  You are a symbol of that love by your constancy and devotion and now especially for the more you want for us.

God lent you to us for a time, and you do shine.  You feel your weakness, we perceive your strength and devotion.  Our hearts go with you into your retirement to buoy you up and lift you to God in our prayer. Go in peace and continue to pray for the little ones like me who grow in pondering you.

Joann Nelander Albuquerque, NM USA

12TH FEB 2013

Proof – Show Me God! And Then What?

On Facebook: Someone “is amazed how people can have core beliefs with no proof behind them?”

Not to waste a quip that begs a spiritual work of mercy, I thought I’d take it up here, rather than beleaguering those on Facebook anymore:

It’s the old “show me” that had the Russian astronaut, Yuri  Gagarin, supposedly, saying during his famous space flight, “I don’t see any God up here.”

So what if you had proof?  Would you change? Actually, Gagarin’s words are nowhere in the verbal transcript of that flight. It suited Nikita Khrushchev to say that in a speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to fit an anti-religious agenda. So, I ask, “What’s your agenda?  What will a God with a plan and an agenda of His own mean to your life?

Here’s what I mean: when Jesus appeared in the synagogues of Galilee, it was at a time of great expectancy.  The rabbis knew the signs of Messiah.  The people had no trouble recognizing the actions of Jesus to be the actions of God: love, healing, deliverance, power over the elements, power over matter and the biggie, power over death.  Some acclaimed Him.  Many walked away. Finally the rabbis said in effect and to His mortal peril, “No way.  No Messiah! They had the Romans crucify Him on their behalf.  Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Now the people too saw where it could lead. To be fair the rabbis saw where He could lead them.  He was standing above Moses, above Sabbath and spoke not about God but as God.  He was changing everything.  Even though they prayed for Messiah to come, and this man worked the signs of Messiah, they saw change as an enemy.

So I ask again. If God shows Himself, or you are given the proof you, supposedly, seek, what will change?  Will you?  Pope Benedict in his book Jesus of Nazareth, says.:

“The people who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are those who live by God’s righteousness – by faith.  Because man constantly strives for emancipation from God’s will in order to follow himself alone, faith will always appear as a contradiction to the “world” – to the ruling powers at any given time.”

“Show me proof.” you say.  “Show me God”…. and what?  Will you change?