Temptations are Teachers

There are two wonderful posts in the blogs from Commonweal Magazine for March 22,

One by  Fr. Joseph Komonchak, “Finding  out who you are,” the other by J.Peter Nixon “Spiritual Excercises.”

The first is a quote from St. Augustine on temptation. I hope Fr. Komonchak wont mind if  I give in to the temptation to steal from him:

“Is God so ignorant of things, does he know so little about the human heart, that he can find what a man is only by testing him? Of course not, the testing is so that the man can find himself….

“You should recognize that God does not need to test in order to learn something he did not know before; it’s so that by his testing, by his investigating, what is hidden in someone might come out. A person is not as well known to himself as he is to his Creator, an ill person doesn’t know himself as well as his doctor. Someone becomes ill, and he’s the one suffering, not the doctor, but it’s from the one not suffering that the sufferer expects to hear what’s wrong.

“The Psalmist cries out: “Cleanse me, Lord, from my hidden things” (Ps 18:13). In any person there are things hidden to the very one in whom they exist. They don’t come out, aren’t laid open, aren’t discovered, except by his being tested. If God ceases to test, the teacher ceases to teach….

“Why do I say this? Because a person is ignorant of himself until he learns who he is by being tested. But once he has learned who he is, let him not be careless about himself. If he was careless when he lay hidden from himself, let him not be careless now that he knows himself.” (Augustine, Sermon 2, 2-3; PL 38-28-29)

St. Paul of the Cross has a similar view of temptation, as far as my reading of him teaches me. He tells people not to be afraid of temptations, or be ashamed of them; they’re teachers of humility and messengers to remind us who we are.  They lead us to God, our teacher, our doctor, the One who makes us whole.

J.Peter Nixon’s blog is about taking care of your body. See what he says for yourself.


2 thoughts on “Temptations are Teachers

  1. vhoagland Post author


    It’s all there in the simple prayers we say: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I’m beginning a mission today in Connecticut, pray for us.


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