Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 7. THE RIGHT USE OF OUR FACULTIES.
Posted on 05/11/2009 7:44:11 AM PDT by GonzoII
IF WE ENGAGE in the spiritual combat with no other weapons than a distrust of self and confidence in God, we will not only be deprived of a victory over our passions, but we must expect frequently to commit greater blunders. It is necessary, therefore, to employ correctly the faculties of body and soul, the third means we proposed as requisite for the attainment of perfection.
Let us begin with regulating the understanding and the will. The understanding must be freed from two great defects under which it frequently labors. The first is ignorance. This prevents the attainment of truth, the proper object of its inquiries. Exercise makes it lucid and brightens it, so that it can clearly discern how to purge the soul of all irregular attachments and adorn it with the necessary virtues. The means of accomplishing this are as follows.
The primary means is prayer, by which is sought the light of the Holy Spirit, Who never rejects those who earnestly seek God, who delight in obeying His law, and who, in all decisions, submit their own judgment to that of their superiors.
The second is a persistent application to the serious and diligent examination of every object in order to distinguish the good from the evil. A judgment is formed which is not in accord with external appearances, the testimony of our senses, or the standards of a corrupt world, but which is conformable to the judgment of the Holy Spirit.
Then we shall clearly see that what the world pursues with such eagerness and affection is mere vanity and illusion; that ambition and pleasure are dreams which, once shattered, are succeeded by sorrow and regret; that ignominy is a subject of glory, and sufferings a source of joy; that nothing can be more noble or approach the Divine nature more closely than to forgive those who injure us, and to return good for evil.
We shall see clearly that it is greater to despise the world than to have it at one's command; that it is infinitely preferable to submit to the humblest of men for God's sake, than to command kings and princes; that an humble knowledge of ourselves surpasses the deepest sciences; in short, that greater praise is due to him who curbs his passion on the most trivial occasions, than to him who conquers the strongest cities, defeats entire armies, or even works miracles and raises the dead to life.
None shall be crowned who has not fought well.
2 Tim 2:5.
Taken from the book of the same title by DOM LORENZO SCUPOLI
The Spiritual Combat is known as one of the greatest classics in ascetic theology, along with The Imitation of Christ. In both cases the authors are shrouded in mystery. Several 17th century editions were published under the name of the Spanish Benedictine, John of Castanzia. Some writers of the Society of Jesus have ascribed the book to the Jesuit, Achilles Gagliardi, but most critics however consider Fr. Lawrence Scupoli as the author of this famous treatise. The first known edition was published in Venice in 1589 and contained but 24 chapters; later editions appeared with more chapters, so it is possible that the Theatines or another religious order may have been part of the composition. Whatever may be the solution of the problem of the author, doubt of the actual one or ones, can take nothing away from the value and efficacy of this "golden book" as St. Frances de Sales called it. It was "the favorite, the dear book" of this great master of the spiritual life who, for 18 years, carried in a pocket a copy which he had received from Fr. Scupoli in Padua himself. The Saint read some pages of it every day, entrusted to its supernatural and human wisdom, the guidance of his soul, and recommended it to all under his direction. The purpose of the work is to lead the soul to the summit of spiritual perfection, by means of a constant, courageous struggle against our evil nature, which tends to keep us away from that goal.
The author was a genius, the kind that can only be inspired by the grace of God and his book is a Catholic treasure and one of the greatest gifts God could have given any age, but most especially this benighted age which has lost its appreciation for the kind of simplicity necessary for sanctity.
Chapter One: PRELIMINARY WORDS ON PERFECTION
-- THE FOUR THINGS NECESSARY FOR THIS COMBAT
Chapter Two: DISTRUST OF SELF
Chapter Three: OF TRUST IN GOD
Chapter Four: HOW TO DISCOVER WHETHER WE
DISTRUST OURSELVES AND PLACE OUR CONFIDENCE IN GOD
Chapter Five: THE MISTAKE OF CONSIDERING COWARDICE A VIRTUE
Complete title: THE UNDERSTANDING MUST FIRST BE FREE OF IGNORANCE AND CURIOSITY