“The world offers you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVIHave you ever noticed how easy it is to slip into comfort seeking? Or taking the path of least resistance?
Because of our fallen nature, we tend toward what is easy. If we’re not careful, we become lazy. Or worse, lukewarm.Even St. Paul admitted to his own struggle when he stated, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” – Romans 7:19 He recognized the battle between our wills and our flesh.
Thankfully, the Church and sacred scripture offer us many practical ways to conquer the flesh. Here are ten of them:
- Pray without ceasing. “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 -- By offering our day to the Lord and continuously placing ourselves in His presence, we are in essence, praying without ceasing. Just knowing that we are in God’s presence will inspire us to struggle to accomplish the work He has entrusted to us each day.
- Take captive the eyes and the mind. One way to do this is by living St. Paul’s advice to the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8
- Grow in humility. Humility helps us to overcome self-love. It is the foundation of all of the other virtues as noted by St. Augustine, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance. -St. Augustine
- Fast. “Enter upon the celebration of the solemn fast, not with barren abstinence from food … but in bountiful benevolence. … Let works of piety, therefore, be our delight, and let us be filled with those kinds of food which feed us for eternity.” -Pope St. Leo the Great -- Fasting helps to create space for God in our lives. It helps us to be more intentional about our consumption of the good things and put the created vs. the Creator in right order.
- Keep holy friendships. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17 -- Do your friendships lift you up or pull you down? Do they inspire you to holiness or mediocrity? Choose wisely because you become more like those who surround you.
- Know your enemy. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12 -- Our enemy, the devil, is always prowling around seeking souls to devour. He would love for us to NOT become all that God created us to be. It’s important to be aware of this daily battle and put on the armor of God each day.
- Go to confession. “Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.” CCC1426 -- The sacraments provide us with the supernatural grace to live the daily struggle of the Christian life. Many of the saints have recommended a minimum of monthly confession as a sure means to overcome temptation and grow in holiness.
- Consider daily mass. Going to daily mass takes an extraordinary amount of discipline but the rewards are eternal…supernatural grace, a respite from the world, time with Our Lord in holy communion, participation in the liturgy and scripture readings, and much more. Jesus himself invites us. Will we answer? So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. – John 6:53-56
- Work hard. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.” -Proverbs 16:27-29 -- No matter our vocation, with few exceptions, work is good for us. It keeps us out of trouble. But more than that, we are participating in God’s creative action when we do our work well and dedicate the fruit of our work to Him.
- Practice the heroic minute. “Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness.” St. Josemaria Escriva -- There is no better time to conquer the flesh than first thing in the morning. By getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, you have already started your day with a victory. What better way to begin your day?
Here’s another idea, join us for this week’s Women of Grace Warriors Rosary Crusade!
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