Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 43. THE TENDENCY OF OUR CORRUPT NATURES...
Posted on 07/14/2009 8:01:22 AM PDT by GonzoII
SMUG SELF-SATISFACTION is responsible for another great disorder, which is rash judgment. This vice, which we not only encourage in ourselves, but infuse into others, springs from and is nourished by pride; and in proportion to our acceptance of it is our growing conceit and danger of further delusions by the devil. For by degrees we assume for ourselves what we detract from others, foolishly imagining ourselves exempt from the sins for which we so readily condemn our neighbors.
The enemy of our souls no sooner discovers this malicious tendency, but he immediately employs all his artifices to make us attentive to the failings of others, and magnify those failings out of all proportion. He goes to ineffable depths in making us aware of our neighbor's most trivial peccadillo, in the absence of a more glaring fault.
Since, therefore, he is so viciously clever and intent upon our ruin, we must be no less vigilant in discovering and defeating his designs. When he suggests the sins of others to us, we must banish all such thoughts, and if he persists in tricking us into rash judgments, we are to cultivate a deep abhorrence for such malicious insinuations. Let us remember that we are not ordinarily authorized to judge others, but if we are, how seldom equity guides us, blinded as we are by prejudice and passion, and inclined to impute the worst of motives to others in their thoughts and actions.
The most efficacious remedy of this evil is a constant awareness of our own wretchedness, for when we find so much room for improvement in ourselves we have little inclination to judge and condemn others. Moreover, in sedulously seeking out our own shortcomings, we shall free our minds from a certain malignity which is the source of rash judgment. For whoever unjustly condemns his neighbor has good reason for suspecting himself guilty of the same crime, inasmuch as vicious men are prone to think others like themselves.
When, therefore, we find ourselves inclined to condemn others, let us inwardly accuse ourselves with this just reproof: "Blind and presumptuous wretch, how dare you rashly examine your neighbor's actions-----you who have the same if not greater sins to answer for?" Thus in turning these weapons against ourselves, what might have been injurious to our neighbor becomes beneficial to us.
Even if a neighbor's fault be publicly known, let charity suggest some excuse. Let us believe there are some hidden virtues, for the preservation of which God is pleased to permit the publicized deficiency; and let us hope that the fault in which God suffers him to remain for a time, may eventually bring the erring one to true self-knowledge, that being despised by others, he may learn the lesson of humility. Such a defeat is really a victory.
Where the sin, besides being commonly known, is also of the utmost gravity, and the sinner hardened in impenitence, we should raise our hearts to heaven in deference to the inscrutable wisdom of God. For we should be mindful that many have emerged from the depths of depravity to become Saints, while others have fallen from Angelic heights of perfection to satanic depths of sinfulness.
These reflections should convince every thinking person that carping criticism should begin with oneself. If one finds himself favorably disposed toward his neighbor, it is owing to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, whereas his rash judgments, dislike and contempt of others, owe their rise to his own malice and the promptings of the devil.
Let us remember then that, if ever we find ourselves too attentive to the failings of others, we must not cease until we have entirely erased them from memory.
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
Chapter Thirty six: THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE REQUIRES CONSTANT APPLICATION
Chapter Thirty Seven: CONCERNING THE NECESSITY OF SEIZING EAGERLY ALL OPPORTUNITIES OF PRACTICING VIRTUE SINCE OUR PROGRESS MUST BE CONSTANT
Chapter Thirty Eight: THE NECESSITY OF ESTEEMING ALL OPPORTUNITIES OF FIGHTING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF VIRTUES-----ESPECIALLY THOSE VIRTUES WHICH PRESENT THE GREATEST DIFFICULTIES
Chapter Thirty Nine: THE MANNER IN WHICH WE MAY EXERCISE THE SAME VIRTUE ON DIFFERENT OCCASIONS
Chapter Forty: THE TIME TO BE EMPLOYED IN THE ACQUISITION OF EACH VIRTUE AND THE INDICATIONS OF OUR PROGRESS
Chapter Forty One: THE NEED OF MODERATION IN THE DESIRE TO BE FREED OF THOSE EVILS PATIENTLY BORNE, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH OUR DESIRES ARE TO BE REGULATED
Chapter Forty Two: THE DEFENSE AGAINST THE ARTIFICES OF THE DEVIL WHEN HE SUGGESTS INDISCREET DEVOTIONS
Chapter Forty Three: THE TENDENCY OF OUR CORRUPT NATURES, PROMPTED BY THE DEVIL, TO INDULGE IN RASH JUDGMENT, AND THE REMEDY FOR THIS EVIL