“All the temptations of hell cannot stain a soul which does not love them.” –St. Francis de Sales
I first read this quote and got a little nervous. I sin-I bet you do, too. At some level, I have to admit to myself that this is because I love these temptations more than I do God. This is why my soul gets stained on occasion. For some reason, there are times when gossip looks good to me. Sometimes lust looks appealing. On occasion, a little bit of greed or pulling for security in the things of the world is the apple of my eye for a bit.
It’s a little rough to come to that recognition. Taking in the greater context of this quote, however, it is a great statement of hope. Temptations are not sins-they are the invitation of the Devil to engage in sin, attempting to pull us from God. I am a naturally scrupulous person, so it’s always good for me to keep in mind that temptations are simply a pull. They will not harm us if we do not love them, and we can push these aside.
Balance. That’s the name of the game. We need to recognize our feebleness, and that we easily fall to flights of fancy where we love our stuff that pulls us from God. But we also need not be discouraged. For all the temptations of hell will not stain our souls if we keep all our power, all our will, all our attention, and all our love on God.