Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 35. THE MOST PROFITABLE MEANS OF ACQUIRING VIRTUE
Posted on 06/20/2009 4:29:42 AM PDT by GonzoII
TO THE PREVIOUS ADMONITIONS, I must add, that in order to attain solid piety, dauntless courage and a resolute will are absolutely indispensable where innumerable difficulties and contradictions are to be encountered. Also necessary is a particular fondness for the virtue, which arises from the frequent reflection that it pleases God, is admirable in itself, and is important to man. Furthermore, it is in virtue that all Christian perfection begins and ends.
It will be most important to resolve every morning upon a strict compliance to the virtue's dictates throughout the day, frequently examining how such resolutions have been put in practice. This formula is directed to the cultivation of that virtue which is the object of our immediate pursuit, and of which we are most in need. To this virtue must be referred all reflections drawn from the examples of the Saints, and our meditations on the life and death of our Savior, which will be of infinite service in this spiritual warfare.
Let us accustom ourselves to the practice of both exterior and interior virtues that we may find the same ease and satisfaction in virtue that we find in obeying the tendencies of our corrupt nature. The acts most contrary to these corrupt tendencies are the most conducive to the establishment of habitual virtue in our souls.
Certain portions of Sacred Scripture, attentively pronounced or reverently considered, are similarly of great efficacy. Consequently, we should be familiar with those texts corresponding to the virtue in question, and employ them frequently, particularly when beset by the predominant opposite passion.
Those, for instance, who strive to attain mildness and patience may repeat these or similar passages:
<>"Bear patiently the wrath of God which comes upon you in punishment for your sins." Baruch 4: 25.
"The patience of the poor shall not perish, or be deprived of its reward."
Psalms 9: 19.
"The patient man is better than the valiant; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh cities." Proverbs 16: 32.
"By your patience you will win your souls." Luke 21: 19.
"With patience run to the fight set before us." Hebrews 12: 1.
These or similar aspirations may be used. O My God, when shall I be armed with patience as a shield against the weapons of my enemy? When shall I so love Thee as to receive with joy all the afflictions Thou shalt be pleased to send? O life of my soul, shall I never begin to live for Thy glory alone, perfectly resigned to all sufferings? O how happy should I be, if in the fiery trial of tribulation, I burn with a desire of being consumed for Thy service.
<>Let such prayers be offered frequently, as our devotion suggests, and our progress in virtue requires. They are called ejaculations, which like darts of fire directed to Heaven, lift our hearts heavenwards to the divine Goodness, when accompanied by two qualities which serve as wings: the one quality, a conviction of the delight God takes in seeing us labor for the cultivation of virtues; the other, an earnest desire of excelling in all virtue, for the sole motive of pleasing Him.
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
Chapter Fifteen: FURTHER ADVICE ON HOW TO FIGHT SKILLFULLY. THE ENEMIES WE ARE TO ENGAGE, AND THE COURAGE NECESSARY TO FIGHT THEM
Chapter Sixteen: THE SOLDIER OF CHRIST MUST PREPARE EARLY FOR THE BATTLE
Chapter Seventeen: THE METHOD OF FIGHTING YOUR PASSIONS AND VICES
Chapter Eighteen: HOW TO CURB THE SUDDEN IMPULSES OF YOUR PASSIONS
Chapter Nineteen: HOW WE ARE TO FIGHT AGAINST IMPURITY
Chapter Twenty: HOW TO COMBAT SLOTH
Chapter Twenty One: THE PROPER USE OF OUR SENSES. HOW THEY MAY HELP US TO CONTEMPLATE DIVINE THINGS
Chapter Twenty Two: HOW SENSIBLE THINGS MAY AID US TO MEDITATE ON THE PASSION AND DEATH OF OUR SAVIOR
Chapter Twenty Three: OTHER ADVANTAGEOUS USES OF THE SENSES IN DIFFERENT SITUATIONS
Chapter Twenty Four: HOW TO GOVERN ONE'S SPEECH
Chapter Twenty Five: THE SOLDIER OF CHRIST, RESOLVED TO FIGHT AND CONQUER HIS ENEMIES, MUST AVOID, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, ANYTHING THAT INTRUDES UPON HIS PEACE OF MIND
Chapter Twenty Six WHAT WE ARE TO DO WHEN WOUNDED
Chapters Twenty Seven & Eight: THE METHODS USED BY THE DEVIL TO TEMPT AND SEDUCE
Chapter Twenty Nine: THE EFFORTS OF THE DEVIL TO PREVENT THE CONVERSION OF THOSE WHO, KNOWING THE DISEASED CHARACTER OF THEIR SOULS, DESIRE TO AMEND THEIR LIVES. THE REASON WHY THEIR GOOD INTENTIONS ARE FREQUENTLY INEFFECTUAL
Chapter Thirty: CONCERNING THE DELUSIONS OF SOME WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES ON THE WAY TO PERFECTION
Chapter Thirty One: CONCERNING THE ARTIFICES EMPLOYED BY THE DEVIL TO MAKE Us FORSAKE THE VIRTUOUS LIFE
Chapter Thirty Two: THE LAST ARTIFICE OF THE DEVIL IN MAKING EVEN THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE AN OCCASION OF SIN
Chapter Thirty Three: SOME IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO MORTIFY THEIR PASSIONS AND ATTAIN THE NECESSARY VIRTUES
Chapter Thirty Four: VIRTUES ARE TO BE ACQUIRED ONE AT A TIME AND BY DEGREES
Chapter Thirty Five: THE MOST PROFITABLE MEANS OF ACQUIRING VIRTUE, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH WE APPLY OURSELVES TO A PARTICULAR VIRTUE FOR A TIME