The Persistence of Temptation
(CEV) "The Notebooks 1943", p. 127
Jesus says: "It should not cause astonishment that a soul experiences temptations. Indeed, the more the creature has advanced on my Way, the more violent temptation is.
Satan is envious and cunning. He therefore unfolds his intelligence where more effort is needed to snatch a soul away from Heaven. There is no need to tempt a man of the world who lives for the flesh.
Satan knows that he is already working on his own to kill his soul and lets him act. But a soul that wants to be God's attracts all of his spite.
But souls must not tremble. They must not lose heart. To be tempted is not an evil. It is an evil to yield to temptation.
There are big temptations. In the face of them upright souls place themselves at once in a state of defense. But there are little temptations which can make you fall without your realizing. They are the Enemy's refined weapons. He uses them when he sees the soul is wary and alert regarding the big ones. He then overlooks the major instruments and resorts to these, so subtle that they enter you from anywhere.
Why do I allow this? Where would the merit be if there were no struggle? Could you call yourselves mine if you did not drink from my chalice?
What do you think? That my chalice was only that of pain? No, creatures who love Me. Christ-He tells you so to give you courage-experienced temptation before you.
Do you think it was only the one in the desert? No. Then Satan was defeated by major means opposed to his major attempts. But in truth I tell you that I, the Christ, was tempted on other occasions. The Gospel does not say so. But, as my Beloved Disciple states, 'If all the miracles worked by Jesus were to be narrated, the earth would not suffice to hold the books.'
Reflect, dear disciples. How often must Satan have tempted the Son of Man to persuade Him to desist from his evangelization? What do you know of the exhaustion of the flesh wearied in continual wandering about, and of the exhaustion of the soul, which saw and felt itself to be surrounded by enemies and by souls that followed Him out of curiosity or the hope of human gain? How often, in times of solitude, the Tempter encircled Me with prostration! And in the night of Gethsemane, can't you imagine the refinement with which he tried to win the last battle between the Savior of the human race and hell?
It is not granted to the human mind to know and penetrate into the secret of that struggle between the divine and the demoniac. Only I, who have lived through it, am familiar with it, and I thus tell you that I am wherever anyone suffering for the sake of Good is. 1 am wherever a follower of Mine is. I am wherever a little Christ is. I am wherever sacrifice is consummated.
And I tell you, souls that expiate for everyone, I tell you: Fear not. I am with you until the end. I, the Christ, have overcome the world, death, and the devil at the price of my Blood. But I give you, victim souls, my Blood against the venom of Lucifer."
Lust: or lechery (carnal "luxuria") is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature. Aristotle's criterion was excessive love of others, which therefore rendered love and devotion to God as secondary. In Dante's Purgatorio, the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings. In Dante's "Inferno", unforgiven souls of the sin of lust are blown about in restless hurricane-like winds symbolic of their own lack of self control to their lustful passions in earthly life.
Chastity is placed opposite the deadly sin of lust, and is classified as one of seven virtues. The moderation of sexual desires is required to be virtuous. Reason, will and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.
Gluttony: Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. In the Catholic religion, it is considered a sin because of the excessive desire for food or its withholding from the needy.
It is considered one of the four cardinal virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance), for it is believed that no virtue could be sustained in the face of inability to control oneself, if the virtue was opposed to some desire. Temperance is generally defined by control over excess, so that it has many such classes, such as abstinence, chastity, modesty, humility, prudence, self-regulation, and forgiveness and mercy; each of these involves restraining some impulse, such as sexual desire, vanity, or anger.
Greed: (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, tatus, and power. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that greed was "a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things." In Dante's Purgatory, the penitents were bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly thoughts. "Avarice" is more of a blanket term that can describe many other examples of greedy behavior. These include disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason, especially for personal gain, for example through bribery. Scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by greed. Such misdeeds can include simony, where one profits from soliciting goods within the actual confines of a church.
Charity, Caritas, or love (agapē), is the greatest of the three theological virtues: Deus caritas est - "God is love". Love, in this sense of an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. In its most extreme form such love can be self-sacrificial. Confusion can arise from the multiple meanings of the English word "love." The love that is caritas is distinguished by its origin, being Divinely infused into the soul, and by its residing in the will rather than emotions, regardless of what emotions it stirs up. This love is necessary for salvation, and with it no one can be lost. Charity is comprised two parts, love of God and love of man, which includes both love of one's neighbor and one's self.
Sloth: Over time, the "acedia" in Pope Gregory's order has come to be closer in meaning to sloth (Latin, Socordia). The focus came to be on the consequences of acedia rather than the cause, and so, the exact deadly sin refers to the failure to utilize one's talents and gifts. Even in Dante's time there were signs of this change; in his Purgatorio he had portrayed the penance for acedia as running continuously at top speed. Acedia (Latin, acedia) (from Greek ακηδία) (acedia/discouragement) is the neglect to take care of something that one should do. It is translated to apathetic listlessness; depression without joy. It is similar to melancholy, although acedia describes the behaviour, while melancholy suggests the emotion producing it. In Christian thought, the lack of joy is regarded as a wilful refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world God created; by contrast, apathy is considered a refusal to help others in time of need. When Thomas Aquinas described acedia in his interpretation of the list, he described it as an uneasiness of the mind, being a progenitor for lesser sins such as restlessness and instability. Dante refined this definition further, describing acedia as the failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind and all one's soul; to him it was the middle sin, the only one characterised by an absence or insufficiency of love.
Despair (Latin, Tristitia) In this context, Despair is the precipitating cause of suicide. Feelings of hopelessness, despondency, pessimism and impending doom, were not the same as the condition, melancholy. "If the man be bereft, give him solace. If he be in physical torment, give him medicine. If he be to the desire of death, give him hope. Reason, encouragement, and faith bring hope, therefore, use them liberally." Francis of Assisi Since sadness often results in acedia, Pope Gregory's revision of the list subsumed Despair into Acedia.
Diligence, Industria, is a zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work, exemplified by a decisive work ethic, budgeting of one's time, monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness, and putting forth full concentration in one's work. It is one of the seven heavenly virtues in Catholic catechism. Diligence is the act of doing all things efficiently and relentlessly to the best of one's ability in order to achieve success in every endeavor.
Wrath: (Latin, ira), also known as anger or "rage", may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Anger, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Anger may persist long after the person who did another a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and vigilantism. Wrath is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest (although one can of course be wrathful for selfish reasons, such as jealousy, closely related to the sin of envy). Dante described vengeance as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite". In its original form, the sin of wrath also encompassed anger pointed internally rather than externally. Thus suicide was deemed as the ultimate, albeit tragic, expression of wrath directed inwardly, a final rejection of God's gifts.
Patience Patientia is one of the most valuable virtues of life. Increasing patience is viewed as the work of the Holy Ghost in the Christian who has accepted the gift of salvation. While patience is not one of the traditional biblical three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity) nor one of the traditional four cardinal virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance), it is one of the seven virtues, alongside chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, and humility.
Envy: Like greed, Envy (Latin, invidia) may be characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, where as envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it. Dante defined this as "a desire to deprive other men of theirs." Envy can be directly related to the Ten Commandments, specifically "Neither shall you desire... anything that belongs to your neighbour". In Dante's Purgatory, the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low. Aquinas described envy as "sorrow for another's good".
Kindness, Humanitas ( Satisfaction, loyalty, compassion, integrity) charity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. Unconditional love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite. Having positive outlooks and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others.
Pride: In almost every list Pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour." In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitents were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs to induce feelings of humility.
Vainglory also Vanity (Latin, vanagloria) is unjustified boasting. Pope Gregory viewed it as a form of pride, so he folded vainglory into pride for his listing of sins. The Latin term gloria roughly means boasting, although its English cognate - glory - has come to have an exclusively positive meaning; historically, vain roughly meant futile, but by the 14th century had come to have the strong narcissistic undertones, of irrelevant accuracy, that it retains today. As a result of these semantic changes, vainglory has become a rarely used word in itself, and is now commonly interpreted as referring to vanity (in its modern narcissistic sense).
Humility, Humilitas, Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less. Its a spirit of self-examination; of suspician toward yourself and charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair and the ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation.
Maria Valtorta: The Notebooks
"These Notebooks belong to a category of mystical literature which the Catholic Church has long been familiar with: that of so-called “private revelations." A private revelation is not binding for the faith of Christians, but its value is to be measured by its capacity to instruct and inflame souls, spurring them to love God more and apply divine teachings to their everyday lives. In the confidence—and the conviction—that this work superabounds in these inspired qualities, we offer it for the spiritual nourishment of readers. —David Murray
Content taken from the works of Maria Valtorta with the permission of the "Centro Editoriale Valtortiano Srl"- Viale Piscicelli, 89/91 - 03036 Isola del Liri, (FR - Italy), www.mariavaltorta.com, which has all the rights upon Valtorta's Works.