The Temptation of Christ, a Reply to Objections (1)

“The Temptation of Christ”, Ary Scheffer

February 18, 1947

Concerning the Visions and Dictations on February 24 and 25, 1944, January 3, 1945, and January 17, 1945

Jesus says:

“In reality, the visions and words given in regard to my temptation, including the part of it which was not known, are so clear that they are themselves replies to all the objections by those asking questions in this connection, and it would not be necessary for Me to give them broader ones, for the additional reason that-let the one requesting these answers remember this-beginning on February 25, 1944, I clearly let it be understood that I was not fond of dwelling upon or returning to the episode and did not like others to dwell upon it, drawing the instrument’s special attention thereto and thus acting in a manner diametrically opposed to mine, when I replied to the instrument herself, who was then proposing the same objections to Me which she is proposing to Me again now, spurred on once more by the same individual, ‘I did not want you to speak about the sexual temptation of your Jesus. Even if your inner voice had brought you to understand Satan’s motive in attracting me to sensuality. I preferred to speak about it Myself. And do not think any more about it.’

“I would have wanted all of you to follow my example of prudence towards the little boy I have placed in your midst, who must tell you everything he sees-that is, everything which has been used for and against Christ-but for whom his inexperience and the paternal goodness of God act as providential protection against the crudest forms of wretchedness and actions by men and Satan.

“I would have wanted this out of respect for the little boy whose eyes see God, and I would have wanted it because this would have witnessed to me concerning the state of your spirits, which I would like to be just, even in the slightest nuances. There is nothing insignificant or useless or irrelevant in justice. Therein the great and visible action of being able to die for its sake has value, as silent, hidden imitation of Me in the way of acting towards your brothers or spiritual children or disciples. For you, as spiritual fathers and teachers, shepherds to whom I have entrusted my lambs, have voluntarily consecrated yourselves to this spiritual paternity and this teaching of the little ones, and you must be imitators of Me.

Finally, I would have wanted this because it would have witnessed to Me concerning the state of your intellect, free from what creates confusion and haze for the truths so clearly visible in my pages demonstrating the constant perfection of Jesus-Christ the God-Man in all the circumstances of his mortal life, in all his actions, words, and even silences. For there  are silences which speak more than all words and teach more than all doctrine.

“And this episode, at the point which you do not want to accept, calling it ‘inappropriate’, speaks to you precisely with the magnificent lesson of my silence, set against this impure part of Satanic temptation. My silence and my complete indifference to the titillations of Satan should have articulated for you the glorification of Christ. Instead, in your view, they articulated something else-the degradation of Christ. Christ’s being tempted by impurity gives you the impression that Christ’s dignity was damaged. You are getting the attempt mixed up with the result. A result would have meant damage. Glorification is the failure of the attempt. Weren’t you able to consider this difference? You were not able to read the truth which was silenced, but clearly visible in the vision and the dictations.

“To be able to read!  Not all are able to do so, and do so with precision. To be able to, and to do so with precision, one must have sight purified of internal flames and external obscuration. If your spiritual sight-that is, your thought- is clear and pure, you see things as they are. In this case, involving Christ’s glorification. But if your thought is obscured or enveloped in the smoky flames of human knowledge and the pride of having to be the only ones to know, or, worse, by impure fires, then it is your reflection that tinges what you contemplate with tones opposed to the real ones and turns a chaste, innocent episode into a sensual, sinful one. Place the episode once again far from your lights, though, in its true light, and it will go back to being what it was: witness to a heroic chastity and innocence which are dishonored in vain.

“Now, if you cast the reflection of your humanity upon the episode because you cannot admit that someone may not feel internal disturbance over an external temptation, because you cannot admit that not even the Christ, the Holy One of God, may have been tempted from outside without undergoing internal disturbance, then it is you that are giving that coloring to the episode. But you must not say, then, that this episode testifies to an inappropriate disturbance in Christ, a disturbance which truly may not be admitted out of respect for the dignity of the Lord Jesus, since, in reality, in Christ there always was order and harmony between the flesh and the spirit, both of them always submissive and perfect in giving to their Creator. Say, then, if your opinion differs from what appears not at all doubtfully in the episode in question, that it is you that are casting upon this point in the episode what is churning in yourselves when you make ‘suppositions’, as you call other elements of yours, suppositions which nothing in the episode authorizes or justifies anyone to suppose or believe. This is serious.

“Why do you make Me dictate these words? Don’t you understand what pain you bring Me by forcing Me to dictate them even for just one among you? Don’t you understand that it is not a trustworthy matter to display scandalized concern-which you do not really feel-just to disturb the spokesman, to tempt him to doubt about the Voice speaking to him, to be distrustful, or even to tempt him to modify parts of the work? An act that you would later reproach him for and set against him as capital evidence that the work is the result of his thought. To modify parts of the work, as if a creature could do so with pages dictated by Me. And why pry over and over into a certain point that I did not dwell upon, not even while I was undergoing it, in either thought or word, by stooping to discuss it with Satan, and my advice had been not to linger over it or go back to it because it fills Me with disgust, now as then? Disgust, I say. This is the reaction which Satan’s obscene insinuation provoked in Me.

“But now-and let it be forever-I will give you the replies you want so that you will get the perfect clarity on that point which one of you states ‘would be desirable.’ I will give them, not the spokesman, and much less will he take the liberty of retouching the text afterwards (p. 111 of the First Year of the Gospel) ‘to make it crystal clear,’ as one of you would always like. Let each stay in his place.

“What is temptation? The Catechism says, ‘It is an incitement to sin which comes to us from the devil or the wicked or our passions.’ It is an incitement. If it incites to sin, then, that is a sign that it is not a sin in itself. No, it is not a sin. Rather, it is a means to grow in justice and augment our merits by remaining faithful to the Law of the Lord. It begins to become a sin of imprudence when man voluntarily places himself in a position to sin, approaching things or persons that can lead him to sin.

“Who does temptation come from? From the devil, the wicked, and the passions. It comes, then, from external factors and external factors. In all truth, I tell you, though, that the internal factors are the most dangerous ones-that is, the disordered inclinations and the instincts or incitements remaining in man with the other forms of indigence following upon Adam’s Sin. Internal factors which Satan incites or tries to incite with every means, in this work, which is greatly assisted by the men around you and by the human self, which is a field of constantly reappearing temptations, with a marked tendency towards the egotism of matter and the sensuality of the mind-the former spurring the flesh to rebel against God and the spirit, the latter leading the mind towards the foolish arrogance which believes everything is licit, even criticizing the works and justice of God.

“I tell you truly that the greatest help for Satan is provided by you by welcoming and cultivating in yourselves ‘the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life,’ which do not come from the Father, but from the world. For, without your consent to preparing ground favorable to the invasions of the external factors, they could not penetrate into you, disturbing your interior and aggravating the internal factors. The incitements of sin could not by themselves lead to damnation if man did not cultivate them, as happens in most individuals-cultivating them as flowers of evil satisfying man’s disordered sentiment with their show, inviting appearance and later turning into the fruits of sin.

“If a devoutly merciless good will were to fall upon the incitements, they would remain sterile, like pernicious plants which have dried up or are at least drooping, to the point where they cannot grow, but are instead subjected to ongoing enfeeblement until their complete destruction. Man instead lets them exist within him, and they grow; they grow, reinvigorated by the greedy mouthfuls which incautious man allows himself, without realizing that every act of yielding to what is illicit, even if small and apparently insignificant and innocuous, paves the way for greater concessions. For the more one savors their spicy taste, the more one’s appetite for the concupiscences increases. And satisfied appetite, in its ever-reappearing and growing violence, consequently increases the power of the disordered instincts, and these grow until filling the whole man with themselves and knocking down barriers of conscience.

“Oh, it happens as with a plant bedded out in a narrow space. As long as it has not fully developed, it is content in the enclosure where it has been placed, but when it is full grown and its roots are as extensive as its leaves, then they can no longer be compressed into an excessively limited space and penetrate under the foundations of the confining walls to seek room, just as the branches have sought it above, and, on growing, they raise the walls, throw them out of joint, and cause them to cave in, opening up passageways through which thieves or boys can come in to set their hands on the plant and strip it of its fruits and branches and mistreat it, sometimes to the point of provoking its death. In the case of the soul, the plant of the disordered inclination towards concupiscences-in contrast to the spirit’s inclination towards its end: God-opens the way for Satan and the world, forming an alliance against an incautious self as seducers and bringing death or violation, the mutilation of the spirit’s beautiful integrity.

“I tell you truly: It is not being tempted that ought to cause fear, nor should the strength of the temptation and the repetition of its violent attacks lead the soul to get discouraged with the thought that this is happening because it is outside the Lord’s grace and destined to eternal death. On the contrary, rejoice, O you that are so forcefully oppressed by Satan. It is a sign that you are enemies of Satan and that Satan already senses that you are prey that has escaped from him forever. Satanic wrath always hurls itself against the prey eluding his hunger and against God’s conquests.

“It is logical for it to be that way. In the battles between two enemy armies as well, where does an enemy repeat his mightiest assaults? Perhaps against the weakest and least important positions? No, on the primary, best fortified positions. The others are easy conquests which he reserves for last, when the militias are already weary, just to give them the incentive of a victory so that it will spur them on to tougher fights. The head of an army would be quite foolish if he exhausted men and means to carry out imposing displays of strength and wasted munitions against a city whose defenses had already collapsed through the defenders’ neglect or which was ready to surrender without a fight.

“Satan is never a foolish conqueror. He is very capable of organizing his assaults. And if where he sees spiritual and moral weakness and perceives the defensive protection of conscience to be greatly weakened-for man’s wicked inclinations have acted as a battering ram against it-or where he sees full consent to accepting him as a friend, he does not make violent assaults, but uses only flattery, where, on the other hand, he sees resistance and foresees a defeat, he rushes forward forcefully with all his means-from flattery to terror, and he does not tire of repeating a hundred or a thousand times, directly or with the help of the world and circumstances-with all his external means, then, to conquer the prey or torment-the eternal hate of the god wants at least this-the children of God.

Maria Valtorta The Notebooks 1945-1950, pages 347-353

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