This month of July, let us keep all young people in our prayers that God's will may be done in them and that they will be safe and enjoy their summer break.
Our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to "lead" us into temptation. But God never leads us into temptation: "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one". Neither
does God impose the good; he wants free beings. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way, we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged
to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us. Cf. (CCC 2846)
As our glorious Summer has banished the winter of our discontent in time for the holidays from work and school, parents and children bathe in the sunshine activities. But
how do parents and children actually cope with the necessity to exercise restraint from temptation, at a time when most of us just simply want to enjoy ourselves?
The battle between Flesh and Spirit
God wants to set us free from
evil. As humans, we are truly engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit". Yet, by gifting us free will, God will not shield us from temptation per se. Clearly, he does not wish us to succumb to the ways of evil. Rather, through the Holy Spirit, He has
given us the qualities to discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death.Cf. (CCC 2847)
are aware through the Old Testament story about Sodom and Gomorrah, of the consequences of unbridled temptation. It is not a new phenomenon. This battle between flesh and spirit commences with our birth. As humans, we are only too aware, especially in later
years, of the tremendous and sometimes calamitous changes in our mortal coil.
When we were children, we didn't concern ourselves with dentures and replacement hips. Our parents protected us as best they could but at some stage we were exposed to the big,
beautiful, bad world with its trials and temptations. Even under supervision, we learned what it was like to 'be on your own'.
Our Catholic upbringing guaranteed a continuous nourishment of our souls, through regular mass attendance, the gifts of Baptism,
First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation. At the latter, we received constant reminders of the difference between good and evil, and what God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit desired us to do.
With free will though, we sometimes learned the hard
way. That much-maligned period of our lives known as the teenage years comes in for a lot of attention, generating some interesting memories, especially at this time of the year - the antics of young people regularly gate-crash newspaper headlines and news
bulletins. What parent hasn't wrestled with worries and doubts over Flesh and Spirit festivals, under-age discos and sleep-overs, while coping with soaring temperatures and raging hormones.
And, yet...Wimbledon is on. Thankfully, there are still young
children, and indeed adults, who are inspired to whip out rackets and do forearms smashes and two-handed backhands on the roads and greens outside our houses. The World Cup of Soccer is just coming to an exciting end, having inspired adults and children over
the last few weeks to emulate their heroes wherever there was an available playing surface to do so. High temperatures drew large crowds to the beaches and while succumbing to an occasional '99', a burger and chips or a ride on the dodgems seemed tempting,
they were harmless compared to the dreadful alternatives.
The best is yet to come! Pope Francis has chosen Dublin to host the World Meeting of Families from 21st to 26th August this year. To the theme of “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”,
families will come together in Ireland from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and of the Church. There will be an engaging and exciting programme
for young people as well as fun activities for children, musical performances and the daily celebration of the Eucharist. Pope Francis will attend the Festival in Croke Park on Saturday the 25th and celebrate open-air mass in the Phoenix Park on Sunday 26th.
He will also visit the holy shrine of Knock.
We know that TWMOF will attract families in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, when viewing figures are taken into consideration. It will be a wonderful way to bring a glorious Summer to a close
and to prepare our children for the challenges that lie ahead.
An alliance of Flesh and Spirit
Enough people manage to survive those turbulent younger, tempting years, and through marriage (or partnership) forge relationships,
which they work on through discipline and with the benefit of a sound upbringing, and indeed the Holy Spirit, succeed in creating families of their own. Enough people exist to lend sympathy and support to the survivors and relations, after natural and man-made
disasters, to generate a spirit to survive. (A powerful demonstration of world community support for young people and the reaffirmation of life, has been the rescue of twelve children and their team coach in Thailand, this week.)
Pope Francis, in his
morning meditation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, on the 9th April 2013, spoke about the enemies of gentleness. While specifically referring to the 'daily events' of gossip, or the 'temptations of the Evil One', he said that conflicts always exist
in the family, the neighbourhood, even among friends. When we are born, the Holy Spirit makes us gentle and kind, but, in the holy father's words, the Evil One 'does not want the Spirit to create this gentleness...' Pope Francis required us to 'ask the Lord
to show us and the world the beauty and fullness of this new life, of being born of the Spirit, of treating each other with kindness, with respect.'
Yes, a gentle soul will have no need to do battle with his or her body, or indeed any other individual.
Instead, there will be an alliance of the flesh and the spirit and a firm but gentle rebuttal to temptation.