There are several Collects in today’s extended edition of Holy Mass for Ember Saturday. There are five lessons before we even get to the Epistle and each lesson is followed by a Gradual and Collect.
After the the fifth lesson, the same as that for Ember Saturday of Advent (in case anyone doubted that Advent is a penitential season) about the three young men in the fiery furnace, and then the hymn of thanksgiving from Daniel, we have this:
Deus, qui tribus pueris mitigasti flammas ignium:
concede propitius; ut nos famulos tuos
non exurat flamma vitiorum.
SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION:
O God, who tamed the flames of the fires for the three young men,
mercifully grant that the flame of vices
not consume us your servants.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that one of the reasons the Lord went into the desert and permitted Himself to be tempted was to teach us that none of us are free from temptation.
Even those who are spiritually advanced experience the testing of temptations. Even seemingly small sins can be serious indeed when a person is well-along the spiritual road.
The enemy of the soul has bested better than you.
The world, the flesh and the devil exert their incessant pressures.
Let no one think he is immune to temptation.
If you give in to a particular temptation repeatedly, sin repeatedly in a certain way, you develop a habit of that sin. That habit, the opposite of a virtue, is a vice.
With clear and even brutal honesty examine yourselves for vicious habits. “Vicious” is the adjective related to “vice”.
If you can’t picture your vices as if they were a burning fire about to sear the flesh from your bones and fry your guts, then perhaps the image of a pack of “vicious” animals might do.
We must be vigilant and disciplined and ask the help of Almighty God, especially during our annual Lenten discipline.
This is war.
A vice can destroy you, consume your soul like fire. Many vices, greater danger.
To rid yourself of one habit (a vice) you must drive it out with another habit (a virtue) or at least some beneficial activity.
Identify your habitual fault. Watch yourself for the recognizable patterns leading to the sins. Form a plan of what you are going to do ahead of time.
Repeat the process until you have a new habit that won’t destroy your soul and which will be pleasing to God and edifying to your neighbor.
Stay close to the sacraments.
Do not forget that you have an angel guardian. Thank him and ask him for help throughout the day.