Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 31.THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE REQUIRES CONSTANT APPLICATION
Posted on 06/22/2009 1:34:35 AM PDT by GonzoII
OF ALL THE THINGS conducive to the attainment of our present goal, viz., the acquisition of Christian virtues, the earnest desire of continual advancement is of the utmost importance, as the least pause retards us.
The moment we cease forming acts of virtue, our inclinations, naturally prone to ease and pleasures of the senses, raise in us disordered appetites which overthrow or at least weaken our virtuous habits. This is to say nothing of the loss, through such neglect, of countless graces which we might have merited by a constant application to our spiritual advancement.
This is the difference between a journey on earth, and that which leads to Heaven. For in the former, not only may we stop without fear of going backward, but rest is necessary that we may sustain our strength to the journey's end; however, in the latter journey which leads to perfection, our growth in strength is proportionate to our advance, inasmuch as the inferior appetites which throw all possible obstacles in our path to heaven, grow gradually weaker while our good inclinations acquire new strength. <>Thus as we advance in piety, our early difficulties fade into the background, and a certain delight, with which God sweetens the bitterness of in this life, increases in our souls. Going cheerfully on from virtue to virtue, we finally reach the summit of the mountain, the summit of perfection, that happy state wherein the soul practices virtue, not only without revulsion, but with an effortless ease and ineffable pleasure. For triumphant over her passions, the world, and herself, she lives in God, and through Him, enjoys a peaceful serenity amid her continual labors.
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