A short sermon from St. John Vianney on temptations:
We are all inclined to sin, my children; we are idle, greedy, sensual, given to the pleasures of the flesh. We want to know every thing, to learn every thing, to see every thing; we must watch over our mind, over our heart, and over our senses, for these are the gates by which the devil penetrates. See, he prowls round us incessantly; his only occupation in this world is to seek companions for himself. All our life he will lay snares for us, he will try to make us yield to temptations; we must, on our side, do all we can to defeat and resist him.
We can do nothing by ourselves, my children; but we can do every thing with the help of the good God; let us pray Him to deliver us from this enemy of our salvation, or to give us strength to fight against him. With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this Name, if they sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for heaven, all brilliant with precious stones.
See, my children, the good God refuses nothing to those who pray to Him from the bottom of their heart. St. Teresa, being one day in prayer, and desiring to see the good God, Jesus Christ showed to the eyes of her soul His divine Hands; then, another day, when she was again in prayer, He showed her His Face. Lastly, some days after, He showed her the whole of His Sacred Humanity.
The good God who granted the desire of St. Teresa will also grant our prayers. If we ask of Him the grace to resist temptations, He will grant it to us; for He wishes to save us all, He shed His Blood for us all, He died for us all, He is waiting for us all in heaven; we are two or three hundred here: shall we all be saved, shall we all go to heaven? Alas! my children, we know nothing about it; but I tremble when I see so many souls lost in these days.
See, they fall into hell as the leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter. We shall fall like the rest, my children, if we do not avoid temptations; if, when we cannot avoid them, we do not fight generously, with the help of the good God,–if we do not invoke His Name during the strife, like St. Antony in the desert. This saint having retired into an old sepulcher, the devil came to attack him; he tried at first to terrify him with a horrible noise; he even beat him so cruelly, that he left him half dead and covered with wounds. ” Well,” said St. Antony, ” here I am, ready to fight again; no, thou shalt not be able to separate me from Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.” The spirits of darkness redoubled their efforts, and uttered frightful cries. St. Antony remained unmoved, because he put all his confidence in God. After the example of this saint, my children, let us be always ready for the combat; let us put our confidence in God; let us fast and pray; and the devil will not be able to separate us from Jesus Christ, either in this world or the next.