How to fortify our hearts against temptations

July 24, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 237

How to fortify our hearts against temptations.

Consider from time to time what passions are most predominant in your soul, and, having discovered them, adopt such a method of thinking, speaking, and acting, as may counteract them.

If for example, you find yourself inclined to vanity, think often on the miseries of human life, what inquietude these vanities will raise in your conscience at the day of your death, how unworthy they are of a generous heart, being nothing but toys, fit only for the amusement of children.

Speak also often against vanity, and although it may be to your own prejudice, do not cease to cry it down, for by these means you will engage yourself, even as a matter of honour, to the opposite side; for by declaiming against a thing we bring ourselves to hate it, though at first we may have an affection for it.

Exercise works of abjection and humility as much as possible, however great your reluctance may be, since you accustom yourself thus to humility, and weaken your vanity, so that when the temptation comes, you will have less inclination to favour it, and more strength to resist it.

If you are inclined to covetousness, think frequently on the folly of a sin which makes us slaves to that which was only made to serve us, and that at death we must part with all, and leave it in the hands of those who perhaps may squander it, or to whom it may be a cause of damnation. Speak aloud against avarice, and in praise of an utter contempt of the world. Force yourself to give alms, and to neglect some occasions of gain.

Should you be inclined to sensual affections, often think how very dangerous they are, as well to yourself as to others; how unworthy a thing it is to employ in an idle pastime the noblest affection of our soul; and how worthy of blame is such extreme levity of mind. Speak often in praise of purity and simplicity of heart, and let your actions, to the utmost of your power, be always conformable to your words, by avoiding levities in acts or in conversation.

In short, in time of peace, namely, when temptations to the sin to which you are most inclined, do not molest you, make several acts of the contrary virtue; and if the occasions to practise it do not present themselves, endeavour to meet them, for by this means you will strengthen your heart against future temptations.

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