Satan’s 5 Temptations Against Lovers of the Faith



What is temptation? Temptation is the work of Satan to drag you to Hell. And Satan can read you like a book and play you like piano. Do not exaggerate his power, but do not underestimate it either.

Some of his subtlest work is done in the area of religious observance. There, he can cloak himself quite easily in the lamb’s clothing of piety, but, wolf that he really is, distort it, either through excess or defect, thereby destroying you with what is good. Beware what some spiritual writers call the “traps of the pious.” Consider some examples:

  • He can discourage you with prayer by saying, “If only you would pray a little longer, God will give you what you seek.” But the deception is that if we can pray a little longer, then we can never have prayed enough. Thus though we pray, we only feel guilty and inadequate. And since we can never have prayed “enough,” prayer increasingly turns into a burdensome task; God becomes a cruel taskmaster demanding longer and more precise prayers. Or prayer becomes a superstitious endeavor whose outcome we somehow control by the length and type of our prayers. Jesus counsels us that the Father knows what we need and that we should not think that merely multiple words and pious actions are necessary. We may need to persevere in prayer over time, but God is not a cruel tyrant demanding endless incantations.


  • Satan can take the beautiful practice of praying the rosary, or attending daily Mass, or other devotions and slowly incite in us a feeling of smug superiority, elitism, or pride. Gradually, others are thought to be less devout, even in error, because they do not do or observe what is optional or encouraged but not required. What is beautiful and holy is thus employed to incite ever-growing pride and cynicism. A most extreme form of this comes from those who take the beautiful and powerful devotion to our Lady of Fatima and allow Satan to set them against even the Pope and all the world’s bishops by claiming that they failed, either ineptly or willfully, to properly consecrate Russia. And thus one of our most beautiful and informative apparitions can engender in some people distrust of the Church and disunity from her, from multiple popes, and even from Sister Lucia herself. It is an astonishingly crafty work of the evil one to take what is good and religious and corrupt it in the minds of some.


  • Satan can also take what IS required and turn it into a kind of religious minimalism, a way of keeping God at a distance. And thus he tempts some souls with the notion that Sunday Mass, a little something in the collection plate, and a few rushed prayers are the end of religion rather than the beginning of it. Such observances become a way of “checking off the God-box” and being done with God for the week, rather than a foundation on which to build a beautiful and ever-deepening relationship of love with God. Such minimal practices become a form of “God-control” for those tempted in this way; it is as if to say, “I’ve done what I am supposed to do, now God and the Church have to leave me alone. God also needs to take care me now since I’ve done what I’m required to do.” And thus the Church’s beautiful laws and the requirements describing the basic duties or foundation for a deepening relationship with God, become a kind of “separation agreement,” insisting on very strict visiting hours and specifying who gets what.


  • Satan can take religious zeal and corrupt it into harsh and uncharitable zealotry. He can take a love for the beauty of the Liturgy, ancient or new, and turn it into a persnickety insistence on exactly the right ingredients, at the expense of charity and at the cost of ridicule, false superiority, and disunity. And thus, charity thrust aside, we say, “Just make sure you celebrate the liturgy the way I like it. Anyone who doesn’t like what I like is antiquarian, a knave, or an uncouth troglodyte and must obviously hate the Church that I love so beautifully …”


  • Satan can take the beautiful love for the poor and corrupt it into an enslaving paternalism that locks them into dependency, or does not address their spiritual needs by speaking to them respectfully of their sins, or does not seek to deepen their spiritual and family lives. And thus the beautiful corporal works of mercy are either set at odds with the spiritual works of mercy or are considered adequate in themselves. Satan can send many to serve the poor, armed with half-truths and approaches that merely bandage deeper wounds without addressing them.


Well, you see, in a certain sense, any virtue will do. Satan can make use of any of them and will seek to corrupt all of them, even the religious ones. He will just as surely go to work in the life of someone in a church pew, as in a brothel or the gutter. No one is exempt from his work of temptation; his goal is to drag us to Hell.

What makes his work of corrupting virtue so insidious is the subtlety of his work, for he takes something that is intrinsically good and seeks to corrupt it, either by excess or defect, or to turn it into some sort of caricature of itself.

Virtues, of course, are meant to work in combination with other virtues that balance them. For example, charity should be balanced by truth and truth by charity. Without charity, the truth can bludgeon; without truth, charity can become harmful, patronizing, and wickedly affirming. Charity and truth are meant to balance each other and to work alongside other virtues in a delicate interplay.

One of Satan’s tactics is to take one virtue and isolate it from others. Beware of these subtle tactics of Satan, who disguises himself well in the robes of virtue. But they are detached virtues, virtues out of balance and proportion.

Beware the traps of the pious.

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5 comments to Satan’s 5 Temptations Against Lovers of the Faith

  • Deb

    Sometimes we get bogged down in the belief that what we think or feel is somehow superior to the Popes or the Magesterium. I think of the consecration of Russia as a perfect point. St. Lucia herself said that this had been accomplished as Our Lady had requested. If the person who received the request from Our Blessed Mother to begin with believes it was done, then I guess one might want to go with that. Then again, even believing in private revelation is not a requirement.
    We all have our areas that we need to work on. May the Lord continue to guide us in His path.

  • tg

    Very good Father. I will try to remember. My problems is that I either have too much zeal and none at all. It’s a constant fight not get lukewarm. Di, you make very good points about Fatima. There are some priests in good standing that do not believe that the consecration of Russia was done as our Lady wanted. Russia was never named. After reading books by those who were there, the popes at the time had to be careful due to politics. I read that one of the problems is getting every bishop to take part in the consecration. That was the problem Pope Pius XII faced.

  • Martha Dancy

    Right on, Di!
    There are too many disobedient clergy and religious today. They cause division in the church by supporting ideas that are against the teachings of the church. When I first joined the church in 1963, I had no doubt where the church stood. Today, the church leadership has sewn doubt and confusion. That is Satan working.

  • Di

    Let GOD arise,
    Let His enemies be scattered;
    Let all who hate Him flee before His Holy Face.
    ~Psalm 67

    I am sorry I couldn’t get past the second bullet of the article.
    What does it say in the Holy Bible about obedience? I go to 2 Corinthians 10:6 And having in readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled. What is God saying here? According the Church: He admonishes them all to return to the obedience due to Him, and the true ministers of the gospel, lest He be obliged to revenge, that is, punish such as remain disobedient. (Haydock Douay-Rheims)
    Now with that being said, Fatima and disobedience. Let me ask you Monsignor, if Our Lady appeared to you and asked you to pick up the red book from the table and there just happened to be a blue book on top of the red book, would you pick up both books or would you just pick up the red book? Hopefully you said you would pick up the red book as she had asked and not both. It is very important for us to be obedient if not it leaves the door open for satan to attack. God will permit this because of our disobedience.
    When you wrote: “And thus one of our most beautiful and informative apparitions can engender in some people distrust of the Church and disunity from her, from multiple popes, and even from Sister Lucia herself.”The disunity here is being cause by the popes not the faithful, but you are right as satan made many of them fearful to do what Our Lady asked. They feared that it would strain the relations that they were making with Russia. They were disobedient and human. The Blessed Virgin Mary, is she not our Mother? We know she is wouldn’t that be breaking the Fourth Commandment? This is not the faithful causing the division it is the Popes and the Bishops causing the disunity, the same way they did in the Synod. I believe this is all due to pride.
    The distrust in the Church’s hierarchy, at present, is due to their disobedience and silence which is deafening.
    Are we not called to bring the truth into the light? If we are not in the light we are in darkness and who lurks in the darkness? Sin and death perhaps?
    When you run a parish, do you have people that do specific jobs? Only if you want the church to run smoothly right? This is similar, we have to work in uniformity according to the Will of God for the Church to run smoothly and when one part of the Church doesn’t it makes all of the other parts not work as efficiently as it should. Do you believe that Our Lady was acting on the Will of God, when she asked for Russia(not the world) to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart? I again hope you said yes.
    With all of that being said nothing is happening now that God is no permitting. I do believe in my heart He is permitting all of this evil to be seen inside and outside of the Church to wake the luke warm up. I pray that many will wake up or I do believe in my heart and what is written in the Holy Bible many will perish.
    Just for the record I am not a“Trad,” but I do resent that the trads have a bad rep because they DO actually know their faith, better than many clergy.
    ¡Viva Cristo † Rey! ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

    • Terri

      This article was very well written and balanced. These are words that can be very hard for us to truly hear and consider, but we must do so. I pray that you will re-consider (prayerfully) this article and read the remaining points Monsignor has made. This danger is so very REAL. May God bless, protect and guide you! Mother Mary, pray for us!!

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