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Defeating Man’s Evil Inclination

Prayer: The Key to Salvation is a powerful testament to the efficacy of prayer by Fr. Michael Mueller. Offering encouragement and guidance in the spiritual life, this book is an invaluable companion to any Catholic. 

Are We Naturally Inclined to Good or Evil?

Ever since the fall of our first parents, we are all naturally inclined to evil. Before Adam had committed sin, he was naturally inclined to good; he knew nothing of indifference in the service of God, nothing of anger, hatred, cursing, impurity, vain ambition, and the like; but no sooner had he committed sin, than God permitted his inclination to good to be changed into an inclination to evil. 

Man of his own free will forfeited the kingdom of Heaven; he exchanged Heaven for Hell, God for the devil, good for evil, the state of grace for the state of sin. It was, then, but just and right that he should not only acknowledge his guilt, repent sincerely of his great crime, but should also, as long as he lived, fight against his evil inclinations, and, by this long warfare, declare himself sincerely for God. 

Does Baptism Cleanse Our Inclinations?

Baptism, indeed, cancels Original Sin in our soul, but it does not destroy our natural inclination to evil, which we have inherited from our first parents. The great Apostle St. Paul bears witness to this: “I do not that good which I will,” he says, “but the evil which I hate, that I do.” (Rom. 7:15). 

He means to say, I do not wish to do evil; I even try to avoid it, but I experience within myself a continual inclination to evil; I endeavor to do good, but I feel within myself a great reluctance thereto, and I must do violence to myself in order to act aright.

What is the Evil Inclination?

Everyone has, from his childhood, experienced this evil inclination. 

  • We naturally feel more inclined to anger than to meekness. 
  • We are more inclined to disobedience than to submission.
  • We are more prone to hatred than to love.
  • We are more inclined to gratify the evil desires of our heart than to practice the holy virtue of purity.
  • We prefer our own ease to visiting Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, or receiving Him in Holy Communion.
  • We are naturally indifferent toward God and His holy religion.
  • We lack fervor in His Divine service.
  • We often find more pleasure in reading a bad or useless book than one that is good and edifying.
  • We are more apt to listen to uncharitable and unbecoming conversation than the word of God.

How Do We Defeat It?

Thus, the just have to fight not only against the devil and the world, but also against their own corrupt nature. Who will be able to conquer these three enemies of our salvation? Whence shall we obtain strength and courage to struggle bravely against them until death? Truly, we must exclaim with King Josaphat:

“As for us, we have not strength enough to be able to resist this multitude, which cometh violently upon us. But as we know not what to do, we can only turn our eyes to thee, our God” (2 Par. 20:12).

By our own efforts alone, we shall not be able to overcome even a single one of our enemies; but, by the strength that God gives to those who ask it, we shall overcome all. 

This article is taken from a chapter in Prayer: The Key to Salvation by Fr. Michael Mueller CSsR, which is available from TAN Books.

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