How the Rosary Helps us Avoid Sloth

Previously, I wrote about the Daily Rosary Meditation Podcast and how it can improve your rosary prayer. I even have a link to it on RosaryMeds. I recently listened to this great episode on examining your conscience for the seven deadly sins. I especially liked the meditation on sloth. Let’s explore sloth deeper and how the Rosary can combat it.

Boredom with Spiritual Life

Sloth is a sorrow or boredom with the spiritual life. It’s being bored with the things of God which results in a spiritual apathy or complacency. This is when you don’t like spiritual things like prayer, rooting out vice and practicing virtue and talking about God and ultimate things like heaven – basically of everything that matters most. And it results in the effort escape the invitation to become god-like through busyness, workaholism, entertainment, news, sports, drunkenness, drug use, pornography, or sex.

Dr. Mike Scherschligt, Daily Rosary Meditation Podcast

I’ve never thought of sloth in this way — boredom with spiritual life. By that measure, I’ve certainly been guilty of sloth. How many times have I reached for my phone to watch mind-rotting videos instead of reaching for my rosary or litany of the hours? Or how many times have I consumed those cookies, candies, or spirits on days when I told myself I was fasting? Yeah, I’m guilty of trying to escape God’s call to spiritual greatness via earthly delights.

The middle panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”

How Sloth is Killing Us

Our society hinges around us embracing sloth. We spend all day working to afford the latest gadget that consumes the rest of our waking hours. We spend tons of money on streaming services, concerts, and sports. Even our hobbies, as good as they are, often provide an escape from living the more challenging, but fulfilling, spiritual lifestyle.

Sloth is killing parishes around the world. I’ve heard so many people say they no longer attend Mass because the priest’s homilies are boring and the Mass is so long and repetitive. Going back to Dr. Scherschligt’s definition, sloth starts with boredom. We, the Catholic faithful, haven’t been showing our slothful brothers and sisters the importance of the Mass and how it’s focused around Christ, not the priest or the music. If we only understood the importance of spiritual life, we would kick sloth to the curb.

How to Combat Sloth through the Rosary

To combat sloth, focus on the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — The Presentation. Think about Simeon and Anna, two people who spent their days at the temple in prayer. They were hardly slothful. They did not get bored pursuing a spiritual life and doing what God asked of them. Ultimately, they both met God face-to-face in the baby Jesus. They received in their earthly lives what we hope to receive after we die — union with God.

I also meditate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery when I think about combatting sloth. I recall Joseph and Mary searching for Jesus in Jerusalem. Did Mary and Joseph get bored with their search? Of course not. They had to continue because they understood the importance of finding their lost son. We shouldn’t get distracted by all the good things of this world that we stop searching by giving up Mass, the sacraments, and prayer. When we give up those practices, sloth will fill the void and lead to other sins.

Bosch reminds us where sloth ultimately leads us

Disclaimer — sloth is not the same as leisure. We do need time for leisure; a break from work. Often, leisure can lead to increased spirituality because it refreshes and energizes us. Refreshing leisure activities include reading, listening to music, and spending time with people. It’s not binge-watching Netflix alone until 3 AM. Leisure compliments a spiritual life, sloth replaces it. 

Avoid These Pitfalls During Advent to Practice Humility

Stay Humble

Let’s take a break from current events and return to a more classic RosaryMeds post — an actual Rosary meditation. As we enter Advent and the Christmas season, I want to give some of my ideas of the First Joyful Mystery and its fruit, humility.

In the Annunciation, Mary’s humility is exemplified in her response to the angel Gabriel when she said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She showed a joyful willingness to submit to God’s will and a trust in God’s plan for her life. She accepted the role that God had given her despite the radical changes and challenges it would bring. In short, she placed God’s will before her wants and desires.

Buying for Ourselves During Christmas

Placing God before our wants and desires can be challenging during Advent. That is why it’s important to be aware of the temptations that draw us away from behaving humbly. We are bombarded with advertisements to shop until we drop. Even when we shop for others, it’s hard to curb that desire to buy things for ourselves or at least desire them. We may obsess over receiving a certain gift and fixate on how we’re going to hint to our loved ones to buy it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things and maybe splurging occasionally. But those desires can make it harder to practice humility when we place our desires ahead of others’ needs.

Christmas shopping can weigh us down and not leave room for others in our life.

I think back to last Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus tells his disciples about the sheep and the goats. The theme of his teaching is that those who serve Jesus are the ones who serve others, particularly those in most need. We honor Jesus when we put the needs of others before our wants. But that is hard to accomplish when we are bombarded with ads everywhere we turn. Advent can easily turn into a season where we serve ourselves, not others, and especially not God.

Trying to Create that “Perfect” Christmas

There are other mindsets that make humility hard to practice during Advent and Christmas. We may truly embrace the idea of “giving” during the season. But is that goal preventing us from acting with true humility? Are we putting our desire to find the perfect present, throw the perfect party, and produce the perfect Christmas ahead of being truly present in other’s lives? Are we praying for one another? Fasting and sacrificing? Maybe we can think of the perfect Christmas as the one where we put others’ spiritual needs ahead of satisfying their seasonal desires.

Christmas doesn’t have to look like a Norman Rockwell painting to be perfect

Praying only for Yourself

Finally, reflect on your humility in prayer and intentions. I so often fall into the mode where I pray only for myself. I focus solely on my challenges, desires, sorrows, and thanksgiving. That’s not exactly showing humility when our well-being is the sole focus of our prayers. It also creates a form of isolation because we don’t look past ourselves. Humility implies a sense of connection with others. After all, how can we put others ahead of ourselves if we don’t acknowledge others in our lives?

There you have it — three different challenges to practicing the virtue of humility during Advent and Christmas. I think it’s important to be aware of these traps so we can actively work on avoiding them. Naturally, asking for Mary’s intervention in these matters through her Rosary and the First Joyful Mystery is a good place to start.

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

The Empty Pew Pandemic

Within the last week, I came across these articles about changing church attendance patterns and religious practices. These articles sadden me greatly because so many people have made their lives sadder and harder because they’ve de-prioritized practicing their faith. We need to learn from Mary and the saints’ examples that our lives will ultimately be happier and easy when we chose to serve God.

A person might be entering mid-career, working a high-stress job requiring a 60- or 70-hour workweek. Add to that 15 hours of commute time, and suddenly something like two-thirds of their waking hours in the week are already accounted for. And so when a friend invites them to a Sunday-morning brunch, they probably want to go to church, but they also want to see that friend, because they haven’t been able to see them for months. The friend wins out.

The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church

What these articles touch on and what I see in my own life, is a spiritual “quiet quit.” Most people I know who are former Sunday Mass regulars don’t have anything against the Catholic Church. But they started watching live-streamed Masses during Covid. They then skipped a Sunday, and then another, and then another. Since God didn’t smite them and no one asked them to return, their new normal was to be a “Christmas and Easter” Catholic.

“It’s not like they are walking away, saying, ‘I’m now an atheist and don’t believe,’” he says. “They still believe in a God and live life with purpose but are done with the institutional church.”

Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

I’ve said this countless times before, skipping Mass and not praying daily makes your day harder, not easier. The articles talk about how people can’t fit in Mass between all the priorities in their lives whether they be work, family, health, or various hobbies. But in skipping Mass, you distance yourself from the source that makes all those priorities and challenges in your life manageable.

Of all the priorities in your life, the last one you want to scale back on is your relationship with God. He’s the one that enables you to move forward and find true happiness and understanding in all that you do. Trouble at work? God can help you. Trouble at home? God can help. Problem with your kids? God can help. No task or challenge is too big for an all-powerful, all-patient, and all-loving God. But we need to form an active relationship with Him through the Church to receive His grace. He wants to help us, but we need to be open to that help.

Many people may ask, “I do believe in God, but I don’t need to attend Mass every week or pray rote prayers to form a relationship with him.” That seems to be the position of many Catholics since the Mass closures during Covid. They stopped going to Mass and their world did not come to a fiery end. But missing Mass is like giving up a healthy diet and exercise in favor of junk food and binge-watching Netflix. Sure, you may be alive and superficially entertained, but you’ve set yourself up for disaster later on in life. We need the Mass because it fills something profound in our souls that nothing else can.

Mary’s Example

Let’s go back to the Annunciation from the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Now Mary had a healthy relationship with God. But God asked her for more… a lot more! Becoming the Mother of God was disruptive, to say the least. But Mary understood the importance of serving God even if it was going to cause hardship and sorrow at specific points in her life. We need to imitate Mary and choose God over worldly comforts and conveniences. God wants us at Mass, not because he needs the praise, but because we need God. It may seem like God asks a lot of us and following him may cause sorrow. But like Mary, we need to understand that those temporary hardships pave the way for profound and meaningful joy.

There are no saints that God didn’t help when they faced their various challenges in life. But when coming to a crossroads, saints choose God over worldly comforts. God calls all of us to sainthood which leads to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. Satan wants us to choose the seemingly easy life by giving up Mass occasionally knowing that it will lead us further away from God and happiness in this life and maybe the next. The wise, saintly person will choose the road that leads to God knowing that ultimately, his “yoke is easy and burden light” (Mathew 11:30).

The Importance of a Purposeful Life

An Alien World

Over my vacation, I read the science fiction novel, Return from the Stars, by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. This was the second time I read the novel. When I read it 20 years ago, it didn’t connect with me. However, now I see many parallels with the direction our society is headed with the one depicted in the novel. I think this book is worth exploring through the lens of faith.

Return from the Stars echoes many themes explored in Adulous Huxley’s Brave New World or the movie Logan’s Run. Lem tells the story of an astronaut, Hal Bragg, returning from an intergalactic space mission having only aged 10 years while 127 years passed on Earth. His experiences on this new Earth are like stepping onto an alien planet. Society has completely changed because people live without crime and fear due to a procedure everyone receives at birth which removes humanity’s tendency towards aggression. Robots handle all the dangerous work leaving humans to spend their lives pursuing leisurely activities.

The Tragedy of Comfort

It may seem like a utopia to live in a world without injury, crime, and fear. If you don’t know of any other way of life, a world of war, crime, and toil would seem downright barbaric. However, what type of life is it where your sole purpose is to exist and consume? There is nothing to achieve or fight for. That drive towards improvement via challenging yourself no longer exists. In the novel, this world drives astronaut Hal Bragg to the edge of insanity as he declares, “They’ve killed the man in man!”

We are starting to see the development of such a society depicted in the novel. It’s one bathed in the glowing screens of smartphones. One can spend his whole life watching TikTok videos and streaming Netflix, ordering everything online at the click of a button, and no one daring to tell him, “You should be doing more with your life.” As Hal realizes almost immediately, it’s a life without purpose. Humanity has regressed, not progressed. We are little more than packs of animals dressed up in the comforts technological advances bring.

Return from the Stars stays mostly in the sociological changes to society. It avoids explicitly exploring the political and religious structure of such a society. But I think Lem leads the reader to a similar conclusion that Hal discovers — such a world creates a shallow and meaningless life. Ironically, it is through our hardships and toil that we forge strong connections with each other and God.

Why We Need to Toil

Our lives need to include that spirit of adventure, danger, and toil. There needs to be a sense that we are working towards something. Specifically, we need to have that drive to always be working towards living in God’s grace and eventually spending eternity with Him in Heaven. And that requires hard work and taking risks to achieve something more than what we currently have. It means being thankful for what we have, but knowing that it’s incomplete.

Hal laments that humanity lost the will to explore the stars to instead bask in the immediate comforts technology and science brought them. I think the same sentiment can be said for faith. We lose that sense of urgency to practice our faith in an easy, “safe” world. Why is it, after a huge disaster like the 911 attacks, churches were full to the brim the following weeks? I think, when our sense of comfort is disrupted, we evaluate what is truly important and invest in it. Unfortunately, the last major world event, the Covid pandemic, made it even easier to seek comfort rather than seek God.

Seeking God through the Rosary

Mediate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Picture Mary and Joseph looking for Jesus after they learned he was missing. They searched for three days in sorrow. Imagine the sense of urgency and determination they must have had looking for their lost child. Everything else took a back seat to find Jesus. Their search required dealing with fear, sorrowful, and hardship. But in the end, their persistence was rewarded when they found Jesus in the temple.

Look how tired St. Joseph looks

We too should show that same level of focus and determination to find Jesus in our lives. I’m not saying that you neglect other responsibilities such as work, family, and community for your faith. But we can’t become so comfortable that we lose the willpower to serve and honor God. We always need to remember that we have a mission and it’s not to watch Netflix and Disney+ (which I recommend you boycott on principle). To be fully human, we need to strive for something greater than what we have. We need to strive to deepen our love for God and our faith.

How to Combat Pride in Our Daily Lives

The New Normal

My wife and I discussed what concerns us most about the direction our world is heading in. We talked about the transgender movement, wokism, socialism, radical climate change activists, pro-abortion, war hawks, etc. These movements all scare me and are doing tremendous harm to our world and the youth. But these movements are not what concern me the most. It’s something more insidious that we see all around us — self-centeredness.

When I drove to the store the other day I witnessed the following:

  • A driver passed me on a residential neighborhood road and blew through a stop sign.
  • Someone swinging out of their inner lane on a two-lane left-hand turn.
  • Someone cutting in line at a store that clearly had people waiting in it.
  • Someone walking down the middle of a parking lot oblivious to the cars inching behind him.
  • Someone crossing the street against a “Do Not Walk” signal
  • People leaving a table full of trash at a fast food restaurant
  • A cyclist peddling in the middle of the road against traffic

The list could go on and on about all these little things I witness on a daily basis. I know this behavior has always existed. In fact, I may be guilty of them occasionally. However, I feel like they are no longer the exception but are just normal, excepted behavior. And this behavior is what concerns me because it lays the foundation for all these other damaging movements.

Selfishness Drowns Out God

Many of these behaviors show how self-centered we have become as a society. So many people do what is most convenient for them regardless of the burden it puts on others. The unspoken social rules that people have lived by have fallen by the wayside. These social rules and laws are the glue that keeps society together. Without them, society starts to come apart which I believe we’re seeing before our eyes. As I’ve written about in previous posts, we are so much more anxious and unhinged now.

This self-centeredness is a form of the sin of pride. It’s hard to honor God in your life if you don’t see that you are part of something larger than yourself. Consider the Gospel of Matthew where in a parable people ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” Jesus responded, “Whatever you did for the one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:37-38) When we live only for our own desires and comfort, we are neglecting Jesus’ mission for us to serve each other.

The Rosary to the Rescue

The fruit of the Second Joyful Mystery is love of neighbor. I think this is the perfect Rosary mystery to combat this self-centered culture. This mystery professes that we first need to acknowledge that we have neighbors. A neighbor in this case is more than just the person who occupies a dwelling close to yours. Our neighbors are our coworkers, schoolmates, that random driver next to you at the stop light, the person standing next to you at the store, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus didn’t limit neighbors to just those in his immediate proximity. He included everyone throughout time and place to be his neighbors.

Loving your neighbor requires effort. Mary put in the effort to travel to her cousin Elizabeth’s village. She made an effort to help her cousin through her pregnancy despite being pregnant herself. Similarly, we must put in the effort to love our neighbor. One great way is showing patience towards one another. Living in society requires us to be patient and follow the rules and conventions even when they aren’t the most convenient. God does not call us to a life of convenience. He calls us to a life of service towards one another.

We may look at the world and think that the ills of society are too big for one person to solve or that praying the Rosary won’t have much effect. But I’m reminded of a story about Saint Francis where someone asked him how he could make the world a better place. Saint Francis replied, “You start by closing the door softly.” We can all do small things to make the world around us better. Follow laws and social conventions, be patient, be humble, and clean up after yourself. We’ll never be able to tackle large, global problems if we don’t first tackle problems in our own hearts and minds.

The Power and Beauty of Reverence

Starting Out Right

I often tell my boys that getting into the right mindset in the morning is crucial for a successful day at school, home, and activities. It starts with a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, making sure their uniforms are in good shape and are worn neatly, etc. Starting the day organized, polite, and presentable goes a long way in living a successful day. The day goes so much smoother than one when they oversleep, are disorganized, chaotic, and aren’t prioritizing getting ready for the day.

I think the same goes for how people approach the holy Mass. Are you adequately prepared to fully participate in the Mass in reverent prayer? Or are you scrambling out the door only to arrive 10 minutes late, sit in the back, and stare at the wood beams of the church?

The Power of Reverence

Fr. Michael Rennier wrote this article on the Catholic Exchange on the beauty and power of a reverent Mass experience.

He points out that Mass doesn’t need to be solemn and silent to be reverent. Family Masses with small kids aren’t usually quiet. But reverence isn’t about the volume level. You can have a quiet church and still have an irreverent Mass. Being late, chatting with your neighbor in the pews, not listening to the priest, leaving early, and not participating in the Mass really aren’t showing reverence to God.

I’ve had conversations with people who attend Mass occasionally because they said they just don’t find the priest’s homily interesting. This again misses the point of a reverent Mass. It’s not a show or lecture. As Fr. Rennier says, a reverent Mass makes room for the sacred. It’s knowing that something very important and special occurs in that hour that does not happen in the other 167 hours of the week.

Reverence in the Rosary

When you pray the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, picture Simeon in the temple holding the baby Jesus. Imagine the reverence Simeon must have shown after waiting and praying for so many years before seeing God’s Chosen One. His entire life built up to that one miraculous moment. He prepared for that moment through prayer and a constant connection to God by being physically present at the temple.

We need to imitate Simeon if we want a reverent Mass. That means being physically present at Mass. It’s time for parishes to disconnect those webcams and insist on people’s presence. The various parts of the Mass prepare us for the ultimate culmination of our faith — the Eucharist. That means we need to be mentally and spiritually present at Mass; listening, praying, and participating. Simeon prepared himself to encounter the baby Jesus. Similarly, we need to prepare ourselves to accept Jesus in the Eucharist.

Benefits of Reverence

A reverent Mass experience will help you connect with God on a deeper level, grow in faith, increase your sense of hope, find peace, and feel connected to other Catholics in the universal Church. Showing reverence is not always easy and takes effort. But God will fill you with spiritual goodness beyond anything the world can offer when you make room for Him through reverence.

The Rosary is a Daily Five-Item “To Be” List

I’m a huge fan of lists, whether “to do”, bucket, thanksgiving, etc. The Rosary can be considered a new type of list, the “to-be” list. The beauty of the Rosary is that it serves as a daily reminder of the type of person God wants us to be. If you pray the Rosary daily, you have an opportunity to review at least five items in your “to-be” list.

When I read news and articles, particularly ones with a list of their own, I often connect them to Rosary mysteries. This way, I solidify the central meaning of the article every time I pray. For example, I read this article on the Five Traits of Resilient Fathers. That immediately got me thinking of how each trait maps to a Rosary mystery. Now I can reflect on each trait, and whether I’m practicing it, whenever I meditate on a particular mystery.

For those who didn’t read the article, here’s the rundown of the five traits parents, fathers in particular, must show. I’ll then show you the Rosary mysteries you can meditate on to remind you of each trait.


Clothed in Virtue

In the Fourth Joyful Mystery, it’s hinted that Simeon and Anna spend all their time in the temple praying. Scripture also says that Simeon was a “righteous” man. Put those two concepts together — always praying in the temple = righteous. If we want to be clothed in virtue, we need to be constantly practicing our faith through prayer, attending Mass, and receiving the Sacraments. These are all necessary practices if we are to know what is virtuous and find the strength to live righteously.

Ready to Forgive

Picture Jesus on the cross in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery. The criminal on his right asks Jesus to “remember him.” He’s essentially asking Jesus for forgiveness which Jesus readily gives. Even in his suffering on the cross, Jesus asks God to forgive the people who are crucifying him. Jesus shows us that we must always be willing to forgive regardless of circumstances or transgression.

Ruled by Peace

Picture Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemene in the First Sorrowful Mystery. Jesus was scared about his coming Passion and Crucifixion. He prayed multiple times that he would do God’s will. The Gospel writers then show everyone losing their minds — Pharisees yelling for Jesus’ crucifixion, apostles scattering in fear, and mobs of people crying or taunting him. And yet, through all of this chaos, Jesus remains calm and level-headed. He had peace about him even when he had every reason to be upset. Peace is the result of earnest prayer, learning God’s will, and asking him for the strength to do it.

Steeped in Scripture

When I was in a summer college seminar, my roommate read the Bible every night before falling asleep. At the time, I thought this was a strange practice. Reading the Bible routinely seemed like something only priests did, not 21-year-old college students. Later in life, I learned the importance of learning the faith through the Bible, Catechism, and other Church writings. When meditating on the Fourth Glorious Mystery, I think about how Mary was assumed into Heaven and helps guide us closer to her son, Jesus. In her apparitions, she instructs us to read Scripture so that we may grow closer in communion with Jesus.

Always Thankful

The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.” When we pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, The Institution of the Eucharist, let us remember to give thanks that Jesus is present in our lives. He’s more than just a person who lived 2,000 years ago. He’s here with us today, teaching, healing, and guiding us closer to God. Of the billions of years the universe has existed, we should be thankful that we live in the relatively small sliver of time that humanity has known God through Jesus. And we should be thankful that we have an opportunity to rest in Jesus’ presence whenever we pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

There you have it. Five traits and five Rosary mysteries. Hopefully, these mysteries will remind you to practice these traits. Ask God to strengthen you and everyone in the areas you need help.

Add Some Activism to Your Lent

I’ve heard many times that during Lent, you should not only give something up but also do something extra. Maybe that’s extra prayer time. Maybe it’s a commitment to attend Stations of the Cross each week or adoration. Perhaps you vow to make amends with someone or receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. Here’s something else you can add to your Lent — political activism!

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to superglue your hands to the road to block traffic all the while screaming “Jesus loves you!” This is something much easier and legal — write letters on pressing social issues to Congress. CatholicVote provides this page where you can write to Congress about bills touching on various moral and ethical issues.

Current bills open for public comment include:

  • Pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
  • Submit an Official Comment to Tell HHS Not to Weaken Conscience Protections
  • Tell Your Senator to Vote for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
  • Demand Action on Attacks Against Catholic Churches

On the Loop podcast, they urge people to write in their own words. They will carry more weight than ones coming from a template. You never know, perhaps your words will touch the right politician at the right time and nudge them to act appropriately. Unleash your inner writer and let the government know that there are people who want their freedoms protected instead of being attacked.

Listening to the Least of Us

Jesus was no stranger to speaking the truth to power. In the Fifth Joyful Mystery, we see him talking to the elders in the temple as a young boy. They had every reason to dismiss him. After all, when was the last time you gave a child your complete attention? Usually, I smile and nod because what excites a young boy probably doesn’t excite me. But they were captivated by his words and hopefully transformed by them.

Jesus shows us that the truth knows no age restriction. The truth knows no status or education. The apostles went forth preaching in Jesus’ name and they were comprised of fishermen and a tax collector. I encourage you to lay down some truth to our elected representatives. They need to hear from all of us that these issues are important to us.

My apologies to my non-US readers for such a US-centric post.

How to Resist Satan Like Jesus in the Desert

Before I begin, my apologies that my posts always seem to follow various Sunday readings and feast days, not lead. That’s for two reasons. First, I try to avoid creating yet another deadline to meet. The pressure is off if I don’t have to publish an article by a certain date. Second, I usually draw inspiration from other articles and homilies around that feast. Since I try to make my thoughts universal, I hope you find them useful regardless of how far away they are from the event I’m referencing.

Let’s turn toward the readings from the first Sunday of Lent. They all revolve around temptation and sin. In the First Reading, we hear about Adam and Eve succumbing to temptation by eating the forbidden fruit. The Second Reading and Gospel then recount how Jesus defeated Satan by resisting temptations and redeeming us. In the desert, after fasting for 40 days, Jesus defeated Satan three times. We’re going to take a closer look at each temptation and how we can similarly defeat Satan through the Rosary.

The First Temptation

In the first temptation, Satan tries to use Jesus’ hunger after fasting for 40 days as a way to gain power over him. He dares Jesus to turn a stone into bread. Satan appeals to Jesus’ basic need to eat as a way to cause him to fall. Think of how easily Jesus could have turned a stone into bread and the strength he had to muster to resist. And notice how Satan isn’t asking Jesus to do something intrinsically evil. This is how Satan often tempts us — by suggesting something that isn’t outright sinful and easy to fulfill. That gets us started going down the path where we do Satan’s bidding instead of God’s Will.

Consider the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden. Jesus was at a low moment in his life before his arrest and crucifixion. His spiritual state mirrors his physical exhaustion when being tempted by Satan in the desert. In both cases, he finds strength by calling on God through prayer. Like Jesus in the garden and in the desert, we should always remember to call on God for strength and guidance when we are facing “low” moments in our lives. Those are the moments when Satan will opportunistically tempt us with something seemingly benign as a way to get a foothold of control. We need God’s help to resist the temptations Satan lays before us.

The Second Temptation

In the second temptation, Satan tries to undermine Jesus’ faith in the power of God by asking him to throw himself off a cliff to have angels catch him. He challenges Jesus to “prove himself” as the Son of God. Ironically, Jesus does prove himself by rejecting Satan’s challenge. Jesus shows that Satan has no influence over someone when he is closely connected to God. Anyone in this state of grace has no need to prove God’s power as it will be self-evident in your resolve to resist sin.

Think about Jesus during his Crucifixion in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery. You have people around him doubting his divinity. The condemned man next to Jesus, in a very similar manner to Satan in the desert, tells Jesus that if he’s the Messiah, to save him and himself. Maybe the same thoughts went through the other man on the cross, but he had enough faith to ask Jesus to humbly remember him. One person demanded proof. The other asked for mercy and forgiveness. We are like the people gathered around Jesus on the cross. Do we doubt God’s abilities and demand proof or have faith in his awesome power?

The Third Temptation

In the third temptation, Satan tries to appeal to the human desire for wealth and power by offering Jesus all the wealth and power in the world. This is rather naive of Satan to assume that Jesus would have the same weaknesses as us. Like in sports, Satan knows that Jesus has defeated him and this is his last chance to try to cause Jesus’ fall. Maybe he couldn’t see past his own selfish desire for power to see that Jesus isn’t motivated by the same thing. There’s no logic, philosophy, or appeal to Scripture in this case. Satan hopes that appealing to greed might eek him a victory. Of course, this last desperate attempt fails.

The fruit of the Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity, is detachment from worldly possessions. Satan is ever present trying to turn us away from God by appealing to our base desires — greed, lust, sloth, and gluttony. For those less prepared to battle Satan, these are powerful tools that Satan wields to control someone’s soul. This is why praying the Rosary, receiving the sacraments, and forming a tight relationship with God are so important. Satan cannot wield control over us via our base desires when we are focused on the higher desire of living in God’s grace and, one day, Heaven.

If you want to read a great analysis of Jesus’ temptation in the desert and the reality of Satan in our lives, I highly suggest reading Fr. Robert Spitzer’s Christ Versus Satan in Our Daily Lives. It’s the first book of a trilogy that I’m currently reading. He does such a great job of laying out the reality of Satan’s influence through the eight deadly sins and the ways we can fight against them. I’m sure many of the ideas in this article were inspired (and maybe unintentionally used) by his book.