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What can be done against temptation?

January 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Father Fortea, what can be done against temptation?

We must immediately resist it with the help of God’s grace. A temptation is harmless if we resist and do not entertain it. From the moment we begin to dialogue with a particular temptation, though, considering the pros and cons of what it offers, our opposition to it begins to weaken, and it is far more difficult to resist succumbing to it.

Confessors often see some very devout penitents who are at times overwhelmed with temptations to commit grave sins. Such religious people cannot understand why these horrible thoughts come to them; they feel guilty and powerless to stop them. Given the nature of demonic temptation, the best remedy is to pray and to ignore the temptation as much as possible and do exactly the opposite of what is proposed. Falling into despair is of no help, but successfully resisting the temptation causes the demons to despair.

We need to remember that while a demon can introduce thoughts, images, or memories into our minds, he cannot control our wills. We can be tempted, but in the end we do what we choose to do. Not even all the powers of hell can force someone to commit even the smallest sin.


Editor’s Note:  To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance


Art: Temptation of St Antony, David Teniers the Younger, between 1644-1646, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • RobinJeanne

    What about brain-washing? Is the person still accountable if a sly devient person, brainwashed them into mortal sin?

    • sequax

      My understanding is that one is less culpable when one has been brainwashed. However once one knows one is brainwashed– and one knows one is brainwashed to sin, one then must give that over to God lest one use the bad experiences of the past as a “cover” and excuse to sin.

      • RobinJeanne

        thank you, that makes sense.

  • debby_d_NJ

    in case this helps anyone today…
    i have often found that when faced with temptation, my best recourse is to call upon my Mother Mary and entrust myself and This Moment to Her Care. Then Out Loud i begin to Thank and Praise God, often with His Names: my Savior, my Deliverer, my Fortress, my Strength, my Redeemer, my Good Shepherd, Mercy, Faithful Love, my OWN…….it may take awhile, but i am never left to battle alone.
    my temptations often come from the very place i am holding on to a habit or belief that i need to surrender, i am lacking trust, forgiveness toward another, or a root sin of a deeply sore belief that i have to take care of myself – that i am abandoned. (from my past) it is often a Choice i make to not give in to this malformed way of thinking but to ask God to RENEW MY MIND, bringing Every Thought Captive Under His Obedience. Thanking Him Out Loud causes my ear to hear and eventually my mind is changed… in the end, this kind of temptation God can use to show me where i need more of Him, less of me…..peace!

    • Gina

      Praise Jesus for your ministering debby as your insight/input especially is really good food for thought re my situation so great help for me today. Thank you!

  • Jeanette

    Re: “We need to remember that while a demon can introduce thoughts, images, or memories into our minds, he cannot control our wills.”

    Many times, I’m not sure if the temptation is just my own erring thoughts or the demon playing with my mind, but regardless, when I notice that I am thinking in a wrong way, contrary to what God would want from me, I utter the name of Jesus out loud as many times as is needed and the temptation stops. The name of Jesus is very powerful!

  • Celeste Lovett

    Another helpful thing to do when thoughts or temptations arise is to call upon the Holy Trinity by immediately making the sign of the cross. My spiritual director shared this with me and this is what I do now. Inner prayer and outward sign.


    I have found that holding my rosary, especially the crucifix, during times of temptation helps me to decide the right way to go. I should add that I am an expert in rationalizing my actions and the weight of the rosary tips the balance. I also use this method in prayer to help me stay focused when my thoughts are skidding all over the place.

  • patricia

    I find confessing them just weakens them because they are exposed to the light. I know we don’t have to confess them but I sure do and ask for grace to overcome them.

  • Gina

    Wow and gosh I really appreciate reading the comments below (and pending posts above) to incorporating in powerful strategies (that sincerely work) to overcoming temptation….confession and asking for grace, holding the Rosary, making the sign of the Cross, uttering only the name of Jesus, giving over to God the tempter… A most blessed community we do have here, thank you and my heart appreciates all the sharing! And I have gathered more arms for the battle within me especially…..

    • LizEst

      Holy water is also very helpful as well…And, making the Sign of the Cross with holy water is even more efficacious.

  • Gina

    Father Fortea’s article is pinnacle, thanks Father.

  • Terese10

    I find that if I give in a little to the pro/con battle in my head, I end up not knowing what is sin and fighting this unrelenting battle in my head trying to figure it out.

    It gets to be very confusing, not to mention draining. I think this is where having a spiritual director would help. Is it OK to talk about this in confession if you don’t have a spiritual director?

    • Absolutely but it would be best to setup a time to confess and discuss rather than holding up a long line of folks waiting for confession.

  • My Weapon to the common and recurring temptations ???…….The Hail Mary……repeated continuously until the evil evaporates!!!!!!!and of course exposing them during my weekly Confession

    • LizEst

      Yes, the devil really does not care of our Blessed Mother. God bless you, Mary…and Happy Lord’s day!
      ps. Is that your kitty in the picture?

      • Oh, Liz. She is a treasured Portrait I got from my late Son as a Birthday Present in 1991…..she has a twin,too!!!!!He knew the Pets his Mother has loved since she was a toddler

        • LizEst

          I had two (not at the same time) when I was little: Brown Sugar and Tiger!

  • Iera Mul

    I found the Lord’s prayer very helpful “… But deliver us from evil.”

  • In those cases it helps me greatly to say the prayer to St. Michael and a Hail Mary – when I do a palpable consolation and strength enters into me.

  • Emeka Okafor

    the holy of Jesus and Mary has saved me a lot during temptation, just found myself repeating this ejaculatory prayer – “My Jesus Mercy, Mary Help”.

  • felixroyan

    In the war of senses, the courageous ones are the cowards who flee from the occasion.

  • felixroyan

    St. Don Bosco used to say this: “If the devil makes a splash, we make one too”

  • Maccabeus

    St. John Climacus, in his class masterpiece, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, recommends:
    “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!”
    “Lord Jesus Christ, save me!”
    “Master Jesus, protect me!”
    “Jesus, help me!”

    I have found these short prayers very helpful during times of violent, demonic temptation.

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