In these days I had the grace of reading a very powerful message coming from the Fourth Volume of The Book of Heaven by Louisa Piccarreta. On October 12, 1900, Luisa speaks about the most powerful enemies which corrupt us, human beings, namely the love of pleasures, of riches and honors.
She writes: The most powerful enemies of man are the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors. My adorable Jesus continues to come. This morning He was wearing a thick crown of thorns; I removed it very gently, I put it on my head, and said: ‘Lord, help me to drive it in.’ And He: “This time I want you to drive it in yourself; I want to see what you can do and how you want to suffer for love of Me.” I drove it well in; more so, since it was about showing Him how far my love of suffering for Jesus reached; so much so, that He Himself, all moved, clasping me, told me: “Enough, enough, for my Heart cannot bear seeing you suffer more.” And as I remained very much in suffering, my beloved Jesus would do nothing but come and go. After this, He assumed the appearance of the Crucified, He shared His pains with me, and said to me: “My daughter, the most powerful enemies of man are: the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors. These enemies render man unhappy, because they penetrate even into his heart and consume him continuously; they embitter him, they bring him down so much, as to make him lose all happiness. And I, on Calvary, defeated these three enemies, and obtained for man the grace to conquer them too, giving back to him the lost happiness. But man, always ungrateful and heedless, rejects my grace and loves these enemies fiercely, which put the human heart in a continuous torture.” Having said this, He disappeared, and I comprehended with such clarity the truthfulness of these words, that I felt abhorrence and hate for these enemies. May the Lord be always blessed, and may everything be for His glory.
From this encounter with Louisa Jesus teaches, among other things, you and me the following lessons: First, the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors are the most powerful enemies of us, human beings. Secondly, the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors penetrate even into our hearts and consume it continuously because embitter us and bring us down so much as to make us lose all happiness. Third, if you and I are united with Jesus, since he defeated these three enemies and obtained for us the grace to conquer them, we too, with Jesus, defeat them and, in so doing, we are given back by Jesus’ grace our lost happiness.
Am I being ungrateful and heedless in rejecting Jesus grace of conquering the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors? Am I loving these enemies fiercely? If my human heart is in continuous torture could be that I am pursuing the love of pleasures, of riches and of honors?
In his Angelus Address of March 10, 2019, Pope Francis speaks so much on these three most powerful enemies of man. He says:
The first, the path of greed for possession. This is always the devil’s insidious logic He begins from the natural and legitimate need for nourishment, life, fulfilment, happiness, in order to encourage us to believe that all this is possible without God, or rather, even despite Him. But Jesus countervails, stating: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’’’ (Lk 4:4). Recalling the long journey of the chosen people through the desert, Jesus affirms his desire to fully entrust himself to the providence of the Father, who always takes care of his children.
The second temptation: the path of human vainglory. The devil says: “If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours” (Lk 4:7). One can lose all personal dignity if one allows oneself to be corrupted by the idols of money, success and power, in order to achieve one’s own self-affirmation. And one tastes the euphoria of a fleeting joy. And this also leads us to be ‘peacocks’, to vanity, but this vanishes. For this reason Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Lk 4:8).
And then the third temptation: exploiting God to one’s own advantage. In response to the devil — who, citing Scripture, invites Him to seek a conspicuous miracle from God — Jesus again opposes with the firm decision to remain humble, to remain confident before the Father: “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Lk 4:12). Thus, he rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: that of wanting to ‘pull God to our side’, asking him for graces which in reality serve and will serve to satisfy our pride.
These are the paths that are set before us, with the illusion that in this way one can obtain success and happiness. But in reality, they are completely extraneous to God’s mode of action; rather, in fact they distance us from God, because they are the works of Satan.
Within the same catechesis Pope Francis reminds us: Jesus, personally facing these trials, overcomes temptation three times in order to fully adhere to the Father’s plan. And he reveals the remedies to us: interior life, faith in God, the certainty of his love — the certainty that God loves us, that he is Father, and with this certainty we will overcome every temptation.
Pope Francis’ advice on how to conquer them is the following: But there is one thing to which I would like to draw your attention, something interesting. In responding to the tempter, Jesus does not enter a discussion, but responds to the three challenges with only the Word of God. This teaches us that one does not dialogue with the devil; one must not discuss, one only responds to him with the Word of God.
Thus, and as Jesus and Pope Francis suggest to us: let us … purify ourselves, to feel God’s comforting presence in our life. And, may the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, icon of faithfulness to God, sustain us in our journey, helping us to always reject evil and welcome good.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
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