St. Peter of Alcantara’s Counsels to Overcome Temptations Against the Prayer Life January 31, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
There are actually nine counsels in total, but that would make far too long of a post, so I picked a few I thought might be common temptations people experience when trying to focus on prayer and/or meditation. I pray you find this commentary useful, they come from pp. 136-9 of St. Peter’s Treatise on Prayer and Meditation:
Against temptations to infidelity, the remedy for a man is to reflect on the littleness of human nature, on the one hand, and on the greatness of God on the other. Let him think of the Commandments of God without being curious to scrutinize His works, since much that we see altogether exceeds our understanding. As for one who would enter into this sanctuary of the works of God, let him approach with great humility and reverence and lift up the simple eyes of the dove, not those of a malevolent serpent, and let his heart be as that of a disciple and not as that of one ready to judge rashly. Let him become as a little child, for to such does God declare His secrets. Let him not strive to know the why of the works of God; let him close the eye of his understanding and open that of his faith, for this is the instrument with which to examine the works of God. For studying the works of man, it is excellent, this eye of human reason; but for seeing those that are divine, there is nothing more completely unfit.
As this temptation is also usually most trying……..so is the remedy the same – viz;, to make light of it. It is a trial rather than a fault. There can be no fault where the will is opposed, as we have already declared.
Some people, when the set themselves to pray alone and by night, are harassed by terrifying imaginations. The remedy for this temptation is to do violence to oneself and to persevere in one’s exercises. Our fear increases if we fly from it, while our courage grows stronger as we resist. It is well to reflect that neither the devil nor any power at all can devise anything to our harm without Our Lord’s permission. Useful also is it to remember that we have by our side our Angel Guardian and that he is even nearer to us in prayer than at other times, for then he stands by to help us and to bear our prayers heavenwards and to shield us from the enemy, who thus is powerless to do us any harm.
…….As for temptations to distrust and to presumption, these being contrary vices, differing remedies must naturally be applied. For distrust, the remedy is to consider that in this business success is not to be achieved by personal efforts alone, but by the Grace of God, which is secured all the more promptly in proportion as a man is distrustful of his own strength and confident in the sole goodness of God, to whom all is possible.
For presumption, the remedy lies in remembering that there is no surer sign of being far away from God than fancying one is near, for on this journey those who cover the more ground are those precisely who are the quicker to see how very much is still wanting to them. Hence they make little of what they have when they compare it to what they long for. Use the lives of the Saints and of other holy persons still living as you would a mirror; consider yourself therein, and finding that compared to them you are like a dwarf in the presence of a giant, you will no longer be filled with presumption.
I especially like that last one. If souls striving to be devout have a weakness, it might be towards presumption or self-exaltation. Thank God I am not like those dirty sinners over there. Being always cognizant of our own sins and failings is, as Saint Peter relates, a great means to overcome this particular temptation to pride.
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