Tag Archives: words

The Battle with Temptation

February 28, 2020

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St. Michael The Archangel, God’s Mighty Warrior (Rev 12:7) Model for confirmands, fully initiated Catholics “a soldier for Christ” St Michael’s Duluth, MN

Lent focuses on sin, evil thoughts, words, and deeds, as well as the good that we have failed to do; and the First Sunday of Lent focuses on temptation, those things that would induce us to sin. Jesus wants us to turn away from sin (see Mt 4:17; Mk 1:15). He also wants us to battle temptation and resist it with all our might.

A temptation is an evil thought that suddenly comes to mind. The temptation makes something bad look desirable, attractive, fun, or rewarding. Typical temptations are to say something unkind about someone else, to strike back and hurt someone who has harmed us, to tell a lie to get out of trouble or make ourselves look better, or to do something sexually impure or immoral.

Temptations come from the devil, not God. God is pure goodness and God detests evil. God wants us to be good and do good. God would never trick us, lead us into harm’s way, or set us up for failure. The devil, on the other hand, is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (see 1 Pt 5:8), constantly on the prowl, the deceiver, the master of lies, who pursues us relentlessly, morning, noon, and night, and places one evil thought after another into our minds. Then, once the temptation is under consideration, the devil tries to make it look acceptable and enjoyable, and then seduces the person to act on the evil impulse.

An evil or impure thought is not automatically a sin. When a temptation appears, at first for the person who receives it, the temptation is morally neutral. No good or evil has been done. The moral quality of a temptation is determined by how the person who receives the temptation deals with it. If the person who receives the temptation and then thinks about it is horrified at thought, finds the temptation objectionable, rejects it, and refuses to act upon it, the person has taken something evil and made it a moral good.

On the other hand, when a temptation appears, instead of rejecting it, the person may hang on to the thought and mull over it. To toy with a temptation is the first stage of a sinful thought. The evil thought becomes progressively more sinful as a person moves from thinking about the evil deed to desiring it, and then from desiring it to making the conscious decision to do it, and then from making the conscious decision to designing a plan to carry it out. The evil thought becomes an evil deed once the temptation is carried out.

At one time when a person received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the fully initiated Christian was called a “soldier for Christ.” The title has fallen into disuse. Many do not like the word “soldier.” They claim that it is too militant and rationalize their position with the assertion that Christianity is about love and service. Do not be fooled. Every person is constantly assaulted by the devil with temptations. Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden. Jesus was tempted in the desert. We are tempted throughout the day and wherever we go. We are engaged in mortal combat. Disciples arm themselves with Christ and his gospel, and with the strength that God supplies, go nose to nose with the devil, fight with great bravery and ferocity, and resist the devil and his allurements with all their might.

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If you rue the abuse and misuse of the English language, you have a friend and an advocate for making a difference

October 20, 2009

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“Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies,”
by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Humankind’s ability to use words to express, describe and explain is a gift from God, ergo humans should practice stewardship with language in much the same way we are challenged to care for the Creator’s gifts of water, earth and other resources.

“Like any other life-source,” McEntyre posits, “language can be depleted, polluted, contaminated, eroded and filled with artificial stimulants.”
If we are good stewards of language, we’ll recognize its value and commit ourselves to protect and preserve it, use it well and battle those who would use language for ill ends. Caring for words, this California college professor states, is a moral issue; conversation is “a life-sustaining practice, a blessing, and a craft to be cultivated for the common good.”
The enemies in this war for words are many:
  • Propaganda;
  • spin;
  • ad hominen arguments;
  • smear campaigns; distortion;
  • lies;
  • euphemisms;
  • overgeneralizations.

And many more.

Better solutions than “whatever”

For some years “Valley girls” were mocked for initiating sentences with the word “like,” yet the angst that “like” creates for stewards of language may be small beer compared with the aggravation that follows the current non-response that supposedly answers all difficulties: “Whatever.”

McEntyre offers three prescriptions against the disease that afflicts the English language: 1) Deepen and sharpen our reading skills; 2)Cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity; and 3), Be makers and doers of the word, which she describes as “to indulge in word play, to delight in metaphor, to practice specificity and accuracy, to listen critically and refuse cliches and sound bites that substitute for authentic analysis.”

She blames text messaging for rapidly eroding spelling and punctuation skills while training users to trade precision for speed.

In much the same way the earth’s resources are being depleted, so too she charges “the rich soil of lively discourse is being depleted.”

You only need to have what you thought was a relevant discussion be concluded by a “whatever” to find you agree.

Love words, challenge lies

To counter the erosion, if not the near criminal loss of vocabulary, McEntyre presents a dozen strategies for those who would be stewards of words. “Love words” is the first.

Her text itself makes that easy to do and inspires one to follow her suggestion to look at words — not through them — and to search for ones that are “intriguing, complex, haunting, curious, interestingly ambiguous, troubling or delightful.”

“Tell the truth” is another strategy, and anyone who ever heard the deaths of innocent civilians described as “collateral damage” understands the moral implication behind that misuse of words.

As McEntyre puts it, stewards of words need to be inquisitive about what they read or hear:

“The process by which things come to us are often deliberately hidden or left unmentioned so as not to draw attention to the less savory aspects of process like pollution, abusive labor practices, fuel consumption, dangerous pesticides, unfair treatment of animals, insider trading.”

Her solution?

“Humbly inquiring what the user means, and then listening,” then calling liars into account — especially when their lies threaten the welfare of the community.”

There is so much more in the 234-page Eerdmans paperback.

Take Professor McEntyre’s advice. Read paragraphs and re-read them.

“Taste” words.

Chew on them.

You’ll find you are satisfying a hunger you may not have known you had. – bz

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