It is simply impossible, says St. John Chrysostom, to live a completely untroubled life on earth and still make it to heaven. Even if you don’t live in poverty, temptations constantly assail you. If you live a trouble-free life, you’re not resisting temptation.
Wait a minute! Is it not possible, they say, to enjoy ease both here and hereafter?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is unattainable; it is one of the impossible things. It simply cannot be that anyone who here enjoys ease and plenty, and continually indulges in every luxury—who lives a vain and aimless life—can also enjoy honor hereafter.
Nevertheless, if he is not troubled by poverty, he still is troubled by desire, and from this cause suffers restraint—a cause that gives rise to no small amount of trouble. Again, if disease does not afflict him, yet evil passion burns within, and it is no slight pain that springs from wrath. If trials are not laid upon him, yet wicked thoughts constantly arise to vex him.
It is by no means a trivial matter to restrain lawless desire, to put a stop to vainglorious thoughts, to check unfeeling pride, to refrain from excess, to live in self-denial. And whoever does not accomplish these things, and things like them, can never attain salvation.
–St. John Chrysostom, Four Discourses, 3.6IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Am I duly struggling against temptation, or am I taking the easy route?
Father, direct every one of my thoughts, and everything I do, so that my own weaknesses may not keep me from the peace you have promised.
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