If you want to break free from frequent temptations, St. Francis de Sales has a plan of action for you.
Sometimes what we need is a spiritual “plan of action,” where we prepare ahead of time for the battle and have an arsenal of spiritual weapons at the ready.
St. Francis de Sales lays out such a plan in his Introduction to the Devout Life, explaining a few remedies that can lead you to spiritual victory.
The first remedy is to immediately turn to God at the onset of a temptation.
So soon as you feel yourself anywise tempted, do as our little children when they see a wolf or a bear in the mountains. Forthwith they run to the protection of their father or mother, or at least cry out for help. Do you fly in like manner to God, claiming his compassion and help, — it is the remedy taught us by our Lord Himself: “Pray that you enter not into temptation.”
When that does not have an effect, he suggests turning to the cross of Jesus and diverting your attention to something else, moving in mind and spirit away from the temptation.
If, nevertheless, the temptation persists or increases, hasten in spirit to embrace the holy Cross, as though you beheld Jesus Christ Crucified actually Present. Make firm protests against consenting, and ask His Help thereto; and, so long as the temptation lasts, do you persist in making acts of non-consent. But while making these acts and these protests, do not fix your eyes on the temptation, — look solely on Our Lord, for if you dwell on the temptation, especially when it is strong, your courage may be shaken. Divert your mind with any right and healthy occupation, for if that takes possession and fills your thoughts, it will drive away temptation and evil imaginations.
An additional remedy to fight against temptation is to disclose your interior battle to a trusted friend or spiritual advisor. Your friend or advisor can then hold you accountable and support you in your time of need.
One great remedy against all manner of temptation, great or small, is to open the heart and lay bare its suggestions, likings, and dislikings, to your director; for, as you may observe, the first condition which the Evil One makes with a soul, when he wants to seduce it, is silence. Even as a bad man, seeking to seduce a woman, enjoins silence concerning himself to her father or husband, whereas God would always have us make known all his inspirations to our superiors and guides.
Above all, continue in the struggle against temptation and don’t stop the fight. The more we struggle, the more likely we will succeed in breaking free from the chains of sin.
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