Jesus tempted by Satan in the desert —Maria Valtorta

Jesus tempted by Satan in the desert. How temptations are overcome.

Before me the stony solitude that I had contemplated to my left in the vision of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. But I must have gone very far into it, because I do not see at all the beautiful slow, blue river, nor the vein of grass that follows its course along the two banks, as if fed by that artery of water. Here, only solitude, boulders, earth so scorched, that it has been reduced to yellowish dust that from time to time the wind raises in small eddies that seem like the breath of a feverish mouth for how dry and hot they are; very annoying for the dust that with them penetrates the nose and pharynx. Very rare, some small thorny bushes, which have resisted - who knows why - in that desolation: they look like the remains of locks of hair on the head of a bald man. Above, a mercilessly blue sky; below, the arid terrain; all around, rocks and silence. This is what I see, as far as nature is concerned.

Leaning on a rock that, by its shape, creates a cave, and sitting on a stone that has been dragged into the hollow, is Jesus. He is thus sheltered from the burning sun. And the inner counselor tells me that this stone, on which he is now seated, is also his kneeler and his pillow when he rests for a few hours wrapped in his cloak under the starlight and the cold night air. Nearby is the bag I saw him take before he left Nazareth: all his possessions; from how flaccid it appears, I understand that it is empty of the little food that Mary had put in it.

Jesus is very thin and pale. He is seated, with his elbows resting on his knees and his forearms outward, his hands clasped together and interlaced through his fingers. He meditates. From time to time, he raises his eyes and looks around him and gazes at the sun, which is high, almost plumb, in the blue sky. From time to time, and especially after directing his gaze around himself and raising it towards the sunlight, as if with vertigo, he closes his eyes and leans against the rock that shelters him.

I see Satan's ugly snout appear. He does not appear in the way we imagine him: with horns, tail, etc. etc. etc. He looks like a Bedouin wrapped in his dress and his large cloak, which resembles a domino costume. On the head, the turban, whose white skirts fall over the shoulders and on both sides of the face to protect them. So that, from the face, you can see a small triangle very tanned, thin and sinuous lips, black eyes and sunken, full of magnetic flashes. Two pupils that read you in the depths of your heart, but in which you read nothing or only one word: mystery. The opposite of the eye of Jesus, also very magnetic and fascinating, which reads you in the heart, but in which you also read that in his heart there is love and kindness towards you. The eye of Jesus is a caress on the soul. It is like a double dagger that pierces and burns you.

He approaches Jesus:

-Are you alone?

Jesus looks at him and does not answer.

-How is it that you are here, are you lost?

Jesus looks at him again and is silent.

- If I had water in my canteen, I would give it to you, but I too am without. My horse died and I'm walking to the ford.

on foot to the ford. There I will drink and find someone to give me a loaf of bread. I know the way. Come with me. I will guide you. Jesus doesn't even raise his eyes anymore.

-Don't you answer? Do you know that if you stay here you'll die? The wind is already rising. There's going to be a storm. Come.

Jesus clasps his hands in silent prayer.

-Ah, then it is You! I have been looking for You for a long time! And I have been watching You for a long time. From the moment you were baptized.

Are you calling the Eternal One? He is far away. You are now on earth, among men. And I reign over men. But, I pity you and I want to help you, because you are good and you have come to sacrifice yourself for nothing. Men will hate you for your goodness. They understand nothing but gold, food and sensuality. Sacrifice, pain, obedience, are for them words more dead than this earth around us. They are even more arid than this dust. Only the snake and the jackal can hide here, waiting to bite or tear someone to pieces. Let's go. They are not worth suffering for. I know them better than you do.

Satan has sat down in front of Jesus, scrutinizes Him with his tremendous gaze and smiles with his serpent's mouth. Jesus remains silent and prays mentally.

You distrust me. You do wrong. I am the wisdom of the Earth. I can be your teacher to teach you how to succeed. Look: the important thing is to succeed. Then, when you have imposed yourself, when you have cajoled the world, you can lead it wherever you want. But first you have to be the way they like it, like them. Seduce them by making them believe that we admire them and follow their thinking.

You are young and attractive. Start with the woman. Always start with her. I was wrong to induce the woman to disobedience. I should have advised her differently. I would have made her a better instrument and would have defeated God. I acted rashly. But You...! I teach you because one day I cast my gaze on you with angelic joy and I still have a remnant of that love, listen to me and use my experience: find yourself a companion. Where You do not arrive, she will arrive. You are the new Adam, you must have your Eve.

Besides, how can you understand and cure the diseases of sensuality if you don't know what they are? Don't you know that this is the nucleus from which the plant of greed and lust for power is born? Why does man want to reign? Why does he want to be rich, powerful? To possess the woman. She is like the lark. She needs something that shines to be attracted to her. Gold and power are the two faces of the mirror that attract women and the causes of evil in the world. Look: behind a thousand crimes of different nature, there are at least nine hundred that are rooted in the hunger for possession of women or in the will of a woman consumed by a desire that man does not yet satisfy, or no longer satisfies. Go to the woman, if you want to know what life is. Only then will you know how to attend to and cure the ills of Humanity.

Woman is beautiful! There is nothing more beautiful in the world. Man has the thought and the strength, but the woman! Her thought is a perfume, her touch is the caress of flowers, her grace is like wine that enters, her weakness is like a skein of silk or a child's curl in the hands of man, her caress is strength that pours into ours and ignites it. Pain, fatigue, affliction, are annulled when we are next to a woman and she is in our arms like a bouquet of flowers.

But what a fool I am! You are hungry and I am talking to you about the woman. Therefore, this fragrance of the earth, this flower of creation, this fruit that gives and arouses love, seems unimportant to you. But look at these stones: how rounded they are and how polished they are, golden under the falling sun; do they not look like bread? You, Son of God, have only to say "I will", so that they may become fragrant bread like that which the housewives are now taking out of the oven for the supper of their families. And these very dry acacias, if Thou wilt, may they not be filled with sweet knobs, with dates of honey? Be merciful, O Son of God! Thou art the Owner of the Earth. She bends down to place herself at your feet and take away your hunger.

Do you see how you turn pale and stagger at the mere mention of bread? Poor Jesus! Are you so weak that you can no longer even master the miracle? Do you want me to do it for you? I am not at your level, but I can do something. I will remain lacking in strength for a year, I will gather it all, but I want to serve You because You are good and I always remember that You are my God, even though I have made myself unworthy to call You such. Help me with your prayer so that I may .....

- Be silent. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God.

The devil feels a jolt of rage. He grinds his teeth and clenches his fists; however, he restrains himself and transforms his grimace into a smile.

- I understand, You are above the needs of the Earth and it disgusts You to serve Me. I have deserved it. 'Come, then, and see what is in the House of God, see how even the priests do not refuse to transact between spirit and flesh; for, after all, they are men and not angels. Fulfill a spiritual miracle. I take you to the pinnacle of the Temple, You transfigure yourself into beauty up there, and then call the cohorts of angels and tell them to make their intertwined wings a carpet for your feet and thus carry you to the main courtyard. Let them see you and remember that God exists. From time to time it is necessary to manifest yourself, because man has a very fragile memory, especially in spiritual matters. You know how happy the angels will be to protect your foot and serve you as a ladder when you descend.

-Do not tempt the Lord your God," it is written.

- You understand that your appearance would not change things either, and the Temple would continue to be a marketplace and a place of corruption. Your divine wisdom knows that the hearts of the ministers of the Temple are a nest of vipers, which devour, and devour, in order to increase their power. They are tamed only by human power.

Come then. Worship me. I will give you the Earth. Alexander, Cyrus, Caesar, all the greatest rulers past or living will be like the chiefs of petty caravans to you, who will have all the kingdoms of the earth under your sceptre, and with the kingdoms all the riches, all the beautiful things of the earth, and women and horses and soldiers and temples. Thou shalt be able to set on high everywhere thy Sign, when thou shalt be King of kings and Lord of the world. Then shall the people and the priesthood obey and revere thee. You will be honored by all castes.

 Then the people and the priesthood will obey and revere you. All castes will honor and serve you, for you will be the Mighty One, the One, the Lord.

Adore me if only for a moment! Take away this thirst I have to be adored! It is the one that has lost me, but it has remained in me and burns me. The flames of hell are fresh morning air to this burning within me. It is my hell, this thirst. A moment, a moment only, Christ, Thou who art good! A moment, if only, of joy, to the eternal Tormented One! Make me feel what it means to be god, and you will have me devoted, obedient as a servant, throughout life, in all your undertakings. One moment! One moment only, and I will torment you no more!

Satan falls to his knees, begging.

Jesus, on the contrary, has risen. He has grown thinner during these days of fasting and seems even taller. His face has a terrible aspect of severity and power, his eyes are two blazing sapphires, his voice is a thunder that resounds in the hollowness of the rock and spreads over the stony and desolate plain when he says: "Go away, Satan!

- Begone, Satan. It is written, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."

Satan, with a shriek of damned heartbreak and indescribable hatred, runs away (tremendous to see his furious, fuming person). And disappears with a new shriek of curse.

Jesus sits down wearily, leaning his head back against the rock. He looks exhausted. He sweats. But angelic beings come to gently move the air with their wings in the sultry atmosphere of the cave, purifying and refreshing it. Jesus opens his eyes and smiles. I don't see him eating. I would say that he nourishes himself with the aroma of Paradise, thus gaining new strength.

The sun disappears in the west. Jesus takes his empty sack and, accompanied by the angels who produce a faint light suspended over his head as night falls very quickly, he heads east, or rather, northeast. He has regained his usual expression, his confident step. All that remains, as a reminder of the long fast, is a more ascetic look on his thin, pale face and in his eyes, absorbed in a joy that is not of this earth.

Jesus says (to Maria Valtorta):

- Yesterday you were without your strength, which is my will; you were, therefore, a semi-living being. I have allowed your limbs to rest, I have subjected you to the only fast that weighs you down: that of My Word. Poor Mary! You have passed Ash Wednesday. In everything you felt the taste of ashes, because you were without your Master. I was not felt, but I was there.

This morning, since the longing is reciprocal, I whispered to you in your slumber: "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem" (Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, give us peace), and I made you repeat it many times and many times I repeated it to you. You thought I was going to talk about this. No. First there was the point that I have shown you and that I am going to tell you about. Then, tonight, I will illustrate this other one.

You have seen that Satan always presents himself with a benevolent appearance, with a common appearance. If souls are attentive and, above all, in spiritual contact with God, they notice this warning, which makes them cautious and disposes them to fight against demonic insidiousness. But if souls are not attentive to the divine, separated by an oppressive and deafening carnality, without the help of prayer that unites God and pours his strength as through a channel into the heart of man, then they hardly notice the trap, and fall into it, and then it is very difficult to free themselves.

The two most common ways that Satan takes to reach souls are sensuality and gluttony. He always begins with matter; once he has dismantled and subjugated it, he goes on to attack the higher part: first, the moral (thought with its arrogance and unbridled desires); then, the spirit, taking away not only love - which no longer exists when man has replaced divine love with other human loves - but also the fear of God. It is then that man abandons himself body and soul to Satan, in order to enjoy what he desires, to enjoy more and more.

You have seen how I have behaved. Silence and prayer. Silence. Indeed, if Satan carries out his seductive work and approaches us, we must bear with him without foolish impatience or petty fears. But we must react: to his presence, with fortitude; to his seduction, with prayer.

It is useless to argue with Satan. He will win, because he is strong in his dialectic. Only God can defeat him. Then, to have recourse to God, let him speak for us, through us. Show Satan this Name and this Sign, not so much written on a piece of paper or engraved on a piece of wood, but written and engraved in our hearts. My Name, my Sign. Refute Satan only when he insinuates that he is like God, refute him using the word of God; he does not bear it.

Then, after the struggle, comes the victory, and the angels serve and defend the victor from Satan's hatred; they comfort him with heavenly dews, with the grace that they pour with full hands into the heart of the faithful child, with the blessing that caresses the spirit.

It is necessary to have the will to overcome Satan, and faith in God and in his help; faith in the power of prayer and in the goodness of the Lord. In that case Satan can do no harm.