Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 14. WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WILL IS APPARENTLY OVERPOWERED..
Posted on 05/18/2009 8:18:32 AM PDT by GonzoII
IF YOU EVER FEAR that your will should fall before the lower appetite, or other enemies that attempt to overcome it; if you perceive that your courage and determination are failing, hold your ground------do not retreat from the field. You must regard the victory as your own as long as you are not completely overcome.
Just as your will does not need the consent of the lower appetite to make its choice, in the same way the liberty of the will remains intact despite any violence that this interior enemy may use. An absolute dominion has been given us by the Almighty. All the senses, the evil spirits, and the whole created universe banded together cannot diminish the liberty of the will in acting as often, in any manner, and to any end that it desires.
But, if at times temptations press you so hard that your will almost overpowered, seems to lack sufficient strength to resist any longer, do not be disheartened, or throw down your arms. Defend yourself and cry out: "I shall never surrender to you! I shall not submit to you!" Act like a person who, struggling with a stubborn enemy and being unable to pierce him with the point, attacks him with the hilt of the sword. Watch how he tries to break free, to retreat in order to charge with greater strength, and to kill the enemy with one fatal blow!
This teaches you to withdraw frequently into yourself. Recall your insignificance, your inability to accomplish anything. You will then place great confidence in the almighty power of God, so that you will be able, through His grace, to attack and conquer the passions that oppose you. Here you must implore: "My Lord, My God! Jesus! Mary! Do not abandon your soldier! Do not permit me to be conquered by this temptation!"
Whenever the enemy gives you a breathing spell, call up your understanding to reinforce your will. Strengthen it with motives that will raise its courage and give it new life for the fight.
For example, if you are unjustly accused or harmed in some other way, and, in desperation, are tempted to lose all patience, try to check yourself by reflecting on these points:
1. Consider whether you might not deserve the unpleasantness you are undergoing, and whether you have not brought it upon yourself. If you are in any way to blame, it is proper that you patiently endure the agony of the wound which you yourself have occasioned.
2. However, if you are not guilty on this score, glance back at some past offenses for which divine justice has not yet inflicted a punishment, and for which you have not sufficiently expiated by a voluntary penance. When you see that God, in His infinite mercy, instead of a long punishment in purgatory, or even an eternal one in hell, has decreed but an easy and momentary one in this life, accept it, not merely with resignation, but with joyous thanksgiving.
3. If you think, without reason, that your faults are few, that you do a great amount of penance, remember that the road to Heaven is narrow and full of obstacles.
4. Even if you could find another road, a burning love should prevent you from considering it; for the Son of God, and all the saints after Him, took no other road than the thorny path of the Cross.
5. What you should keep in mind at this and all other times is the will of God. He loves you so tenderly that He is delighted with every heroic act of virtue you perform and with the return of your fidelity and courage to His immense love. Remember also that the more unjustly you suffer, and consequently the more grievous your affliction, the greater is your merit in the sight of God. For in the midst of your suffering you adore His judgments, and willingly submit to His divine Providence which draws good from the greatest evil and makes the malice of our enemies subservient to our eternal happiness.
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
Chapter Six: FURTHER ADVICE ON HOW TO OBTAIN A DISTRUST OF ONESELF AND CONFIDENCE IN GOD
Chapter Seven: THE RIGHT USE OF OUR FACULTIES. THE UNDERSTANDING MUST FIRST BE FREE OF IGNORANCE AND CURIOSITY
Chapter Eight: AN OBSTACLE TO FORMING A CORRECT JUDGMENT. AN AID TO THE FORMATION OF A CORRECT JUDGMENT
Chapter Nine: ANOTHER METHOD TO PREVENT DECEPTION OF THE UNDERSTANDING
Chapter Ten: THE EXERCISE OF THE WILL. THE END TO WHICH ALL OF OUR ACTIONS, INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR, SHOULD BE DIRECTED
Chapter Eleven: SOME CONSIDERATIONS WHICH WILL INCLINE THE WILL TO SEEK ONLY WHAT IS PLEASING TO GOD
Chapter Twelve: THE OPPOSITION WITHIN MAN'S TWOFOLD NATURE
Chapter Thirteen: HOW WE ARE TO ENCOUNTER SENSUALITY. WHAT THE WILL MUST DO TO ACQUIRE VIRTUOUS HABITS
Chapter Fourteen: WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WILL IS APPARENTLY OVERPOWERED
Complete title: WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WILL IS APPARENTLY OVERPOWERED, AND UNABLE TO RESIST THE SENSUAL APPETITES