Newsletter n. 12/22 – Suggestions for discernment
In the Christian life, that is, in the spiritual life of every Christian, discernment is an important part.
Also in the Valtortian writings there are many suggestions in this area in various ways and at various depths, for example in Jesus’ commentary on the temptations overcome in the desert (Ev1 pp. 287-294, chap. 46 – Italian version), in which Jesus himself explains some tactics of the serpentine-tailed enemy and the remedies to use to overcome him.
(1) First of all we must “have the will to overcome Satan and faith in God and in his help. Faith in the power of prayer and in the goodness of the Lord. Then Satan cannot hurt us”. This cannot be missing. Man has the will to decide what to do and where to go. In freedom he must have previously decided that his homeland is Heaven and for this he must firmly oppose the enemy. Victory depends a lot on this point. Many of our falls are attributable to an uncertainty right here. To overcome us, the enemy can also leverage our uncertainty about Heaven.
(2) “The two most common ways […] are the sense and the gluttony”. The meat is usually the easiest part to hit and enslave. Jesus also said it in the most important moment of his life, in Gethsemane: “the spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak” (Mk 14:38). Our living in the flesh, so in need of things, is easy to tempt. Air and water, bread and a side dish, cold and hot, are points on which the enemy relies above all to enslave us against God. They are candies – poisoned! – which he always proposes to us and first. There may also be a direct and primary attack on intelligence, but it is only for a few: a less known and obvious path than the first, which is instead very frequent.
(3) “Morale first: thought with its pride and greed”. The pleasure of the senses is just the beginning. The enemy must certainly bind us to the desire (greed) for material things, but then he must make us develop intellectual pride: make us convinced that we are someone to whom consideration and respect should be given primarily; to make selfish love grow in us to the point of placing it above all, and ultimately God as well. Submitting God to one’s demands is the summit of the corrupt human mind.
(4) “Then the spirit, taking away not only love […] but also the Fear of God”. The sliver of eternity in us, that is our soul, which has the task of uniting us with God and tasting Him, is used by the intellect bent on unbridled selfishness to aim to be like God. In the end, at the highest level, Love and Fear of God are canceled. The satan who has become man stands against the Creator and wants to be worshiped by him.
(5) “It is then that man abandons himself in body and soul to Satan, in order to get to enjoy what he wants, to enjoy more and more”. Man cannot reach the summit just described if he has not first been ready and prone to worship the enemy. With the strength received from the enemy, man can enjoy and enjoy the things of the world more and more, to the point of believing that he is independent of the Creator. He wants (and can, within certain limits) do what he wants in every sense in order to have the pleasure he is looking for.
(6) “Arguing with Satan is useless. He would win, because he is strong in his dialectic. There is only God who wins it”. Jesus begins to show us the remedies to avoid being overwhelmed. The first is to be silent; never argue with the enemy. His dialectic is angelic – fallen, but still angelic – and he would overcome us very easily. To keep silent is to humble oneself; to be silent is to recognize the superiority of the enemy; to be silent seems to be cowardly. Quite the opposite is true: silence is the strength of the humble, of those who recognize their limits, accept them to the full, and live them daily.
(7) “Silence and prayer. Silence. Because, if Satan does his work as a seducer and comes around us, one must be subjected to it without foolish impatience and cowardly fears. But to react with sustainedness to his presence, and with prayer to his seduction”. Patience and prayer are the two great weapons. Patience in accepting temptation without unfounded fears. Temptation itself is never, ever, a sin! Therefore, it is necessary to endure many and various sufferings because: “it is necessary to go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Prayer is the greatest gesture, but on condition that it is of the heart, of our whole being, of the depth (or apex) of our soul. Then, united in this way with God, the enemy will fail and we will win.
(8) “To have recourse to God, who speaks for us, through us. Show Satan that Name and that Sign, not so much written on a paper or engraved on a wood, as written and engraved in the heart”. This means having in the heart and in the mind the Words revealed by God. They must therefore be known. The Gospel and canonical revelation must be known, read and loved. With these words, heard and spoken in us with faith, we will certainly be able to overcome temptation. The Valtortian writings are excellent help, but the Word is unsurpassable, because it is the power of God, and makes us win. It is the double-edged sword that can defeat the tempting enemy.
(9) “To reply to Satan, only when he insinuates that he is like God, using the word of God. He cannot stand it”. Evagrius Pontico, the ancient Christian, taught precisely this: to oppose temptations with directly contrary Words of Revelation (Book of Refutations – Antirrhetikos). The Word which, among other things, gives us the Eucharist, the Bread of Eternal Life, therefore has within itself the strength to destroy all the attacks of the enemy.
Reason, Experience, Silence, Strength, Prayer and the Word of God are the tools that Heaven through Maria Valtorta has shown us to overcome the temptations of the infernal enemy.