Father Fortea, what can be done against temptation?
We must immediately resist it with the help of God’s grace. A temptation is harmless if we resist and do not entertain it. From the moment we begin to dialogue with a particular temptation, though, considering the pros and cons of what it offers, our opposition to it begins to weaken, and it is far more difficult to resist succumbing to it.
Confessors often see some very devout penitents who are at times overwhelmed with temptations to commit grave sins. Such religious people cannot understand why these horrible thoughts come to them; they feel guilty and powerless to stop them. Given the nature of demonic temptation, the best remedy is to pray and to ignore the temptation as much as possible and do exactly the opposite of what is proposed. Falling into despair is of no help, but successfully resisting the temptation causes the demons to despair.
We need to remember that while a demon can introduce thoughts, images, or memories into our minds, he cannot control our wills. We can be tempted, but in the end we do what we choose to do. Not even all the powers of hell can force someone to commit even the smallest sin.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance
Art for this post on what can be done against temptation: Temptation of St Antony, David Teniers the Younger, between 1644-1646, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923; detail of Padre José Antonio Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International; both Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved.