In last Sunday’s Gospel reading, we heard of Jesus being tempted in the desert. And as you continue your journey through the desert this Lent, it’s likely that you will encounter your own temptations and trials. So how can you fight against temptation? And how can you persevere even if you lose that fight?
Fr. Joe D’Amico, pastor at Our Lady of the Lake in the Archdiocese of Newark, stopped by Morning Air® to talk about temptation and how to fight against it.
Because we are in the Lenten season, the past few Sunday Gospels have focused on Jesus going into the desert for 40 days. Scripture tells us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, and during that time He ate nothing. It sounds terrible! And that might be how you view the Lenten season. A time of deprivation and temptation that you just have to suffer through. But Fr. Joe pointed out that Jesus’ time in the desert actually helped Him in His fight against the devil, and our own time in the desert this Lent can help us fight temptation too.
“The desert is a very important place,” he explained. “Because in Scripture, the desert is not just a battleground between good and evil, but it is also a time and an opportunity for renewal, change, and transformation. Which is why we begin the season of Lent by reflecting on the Gospel of Jesus going into the desert, and that 40-day period. The desert really shouldn’t be a fearful place. It’s a place where we confront ourselves, where we challenge ourselves, where we look deeper into ourselves. But it shouldn’t be a place that we’re afraid of.”
Fr. Joe explained that even though Jesus knew He would be tempted in the desert, He didn’t go there looking for a fight. Just so, he warned of the need to avoid occasions of sin. The devil will send us enough temptations, so there is no need to search them out.
“[Jesus] wasn’t looking for a fight, but the fight and the battle found Him,” Fr. Joe said. “So we don’t need to go out of our way for spiritual battles. We maneuver through light and darkness all the time. It’s there waiting for us.”
But for the times when we are inevitably faced with temptation, how can we fight against it? Fr. Joe shared what works for him, saying, “When I’m feeling conflicted, when I’m feeling tempted, for me the best prayer is that very, very brief prayer of deliverance: deliver us from evil. And I always look to the Our Father. We’re praying to lead us not into temptation, we’re praying for our daily needs, we’re praying for others. That’s a very, very brief but powerful prayer that includes a prayer of deliverance from the Evil One.”
And if you do give in to temptation and sin, don’t think that the battle is over. The devil will use his victory to keep you in darkness and away from the healing mercy found in Confession. Why? Because that is a move that the devil has no defense against.
“Light always overcomes the darkness,” said Fr. Joe. “The devil is no match for the light. So everything that we stir up from inside of ourselves and we bring to the light, the devil can’t combat that. He can’t fight that because he’s no match for the light. And where there is God, there is light. That’s exactly what Reconciliation does. We take what’s been in the dark, what’s been very deep inside of us, and we bring it to the light and we expose it. And that’s where the freedom comes from.”
Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Joe D’Amico below: