Temptation and Integrity

Continuing with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR's book "Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones" 1987., Paulist Press, a chapter that draws my interest is about "Sin, Temptation and Integrity." What is Integrity? "When used as a virtue term, ‘integrity’ refers to a quality of a person's character; however, there are other uses of the term. One may speak of the integrity of a wilderness region or an ecosystem, a computerized database, a defense system, a work of art, and so on. When it is applied to objects, integrity refers to the wholeness, intactness or purity of a thing—meanings that are sometimes carried over when it is applied to people. A wilderness region has integrity when it has not been corrupted by development or by the side-effects of development, when it remains intact as wilderness. A database maintains its integrity as long as it remains uncorrupted by error; a defense system as long as it is not breached. A musical work might be said to have integrity when its musical structure has a certain completeness that is not intruded upon by uncoordinated, unrelated musical ideas; that is, when it possesses a kind of musical wholeness, intactness and purity." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Fr. Groeschel writes, that Integrity is a stepping stone, "the stepping stone, as it were, over sin and temptation is the integration fo all aspects of the personality. Calling someone a person of integrity once meant the person was honest. Good motives and outward behavior were consistent with each other and with the total presentation of self."

When faced with temptation, get away from the situation that leads to it. People often trigger temptations through recollections of events, people, daydreaming about situations that felt good at a previous time. As Fr. Benedict says "break the set," a psychological term. Untrigger the temptation, break it up, relax to reduce anxiety...just let go!

If you are a person of integrity, you'll know what to do to untrigger a temptation. You pray, no matter what you are doing, you pray for relief. Pray the influence of the devil away by consciously making a Sign of the Cross! Go do something else. Get away from the situation that tries to unsettle us.

if those temptations occur a lot, it may be best to get help. See a priest, or discuss it with a great friend. Seek out help perhaps through AA or local psycho-analystic services. Needs for pleasure or self-gratification are often reenactments of childish weaknesses. Persons of integrity need not go there. They are mature enough to put the problem at the foot of the Cross and go on with their lives.

The devil is involved in such temptations, don't suggest to yourself that he has no influence on us - take his presence serious and fight him tooth and nail. So, as Fr. Benedict writes:

1. Get away from the situation involving the temptation.

2. Relax. Work off the anxiety, the pressure of the situation

3. Spend some time in prayer.

4. Stand back and evaluate the situation

5. Compulsive problems - get support from AA - there may be a need for counseling or spiritual direction.

"Openness to Christ and the burning desire to follow and embrace him are essential elements of an integrated Christian life. Go to St. Paul's Collosians 3:12-17,

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forebearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everthing together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful."

God bless you!

Fred Schaeffer, OFS
April 24, 2012