Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 52. THE BENEFITS DERIVED FROM MEDITATIONS ON THE CROSS
Posted on 07/27/2009 1:02:17 AM PDT by GonzoII
GREAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES to be derived from meditating on the Cross, the first of which is, not only a detestation of past sins, but also the firm resolution to fight against our ever present disorderly appetites, which crucified our Savior. The second advantage is the forgiveness of sins, obtained from Jesus crucified, and a wholesome self-contempt which inspires us forever to forsake offending Him, and continually to love and serve Him with all our hearts in acknowledgment of what He suffered for our sakes. The third is the unceasing labor with which we root out all depraved habits, however trivial they may appear. The fourth consists in our ardent efforts to imitate our Divine Master, Who died, not only to expiate our sins, but to bequeath to us the sublime example of a life of sanctity and perfection.
The following method of meditation will be highly serviceable, assuming as I do, that you particularly wish to imitate the patience of your Savior in carrying your crosses. Consider well these several points:
1. What the soul of Christ suffered for God.
2. What God did for the soul of Jesus.
3. What the soul of Jesus did for itself and its body.
4. What Jesus did for us.
5. What we ought to do for Jesus.
1. Consider in the first place, that the soul of Jesus engulfed in the ocean of Divinity, contemplated that infinite and incomprehensible Being, before Whom even the most exalted of creatures is utterly insignificant; contemplated, I say, in a state so debased as to suffer the vilest indignities of ungrateful man, without the least diminution of its essential glory and splendor. And from the depths of its suffering, the soul of Christ adored its sovereign Majesty, giving it myriad thanks and accepting all for its sake.
2. Behold on the other hand what God bestowed on the soul of Jesus; consider that the Divine will decreed the scourgings, spittle, blasphemies, buffetings, crown of thorns for love of us, and the crucifixion, which were meted out to Jesus, the only and beloved Son of God. See with what delight God, knowing the admirable end to which it was all directed, beheld His Divine Son, loaded with infamy and overwhelmed with affliction.
3. Contemplate next the soul of Jesus, and observe with what alacrity it submitted itself to the will of God, either because of the immensity of its Divine perfection, or the infinity of divine favor bestowed upon it. Who can describe the ardent affection of this soul for crosses? This was a soul that sought even new ways of suffering, and failing in this, abandoned itself and the innocent body to the mercy of miscreants and the powers of Hell.
4. Turn, then, your eyes to Jesus, Who from the midst of His agony, addresses you in this affectionate manner: "See to what depths of misery I am reduced by thy ungovernable will, which refuses the least constraint in compliance with mine. Behold the horrible pains I endure, with no other purpose than to teach thee a lesson of patience. And let me persuade thee, by all these sufferings, to accept with resignation this cross I here present, and those which I shall send in the future. Surrender thy reputation to calumny, and thy body to the fury of the persecutors whom I shall choose for thy trial, however vile and inhuman they may be. Oh, that thou didst know what delight thy patience and resignation afford me! But then, how canst thou be ignorant of it, when thou beholdest these wounds received to purchase for thee those virtues with which I would adorn thy soul, more dear to me than life itself? If I have suffered this debasement for thee, canst thou not bear a light affliction, in order to lessen My agony to some degree? Canst thou refuse to heal those wounds I have received through thy impatience, wounds more cruel to me than physical anguish?"
5. Consider who it is that speaks thus to you; consider that it is Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, true God and true Man. Consider too the magnitude of His torments and humiliations, greater than that deserved by the most vicious of criminals. Be astonished to behold Him in the midst of these agonies, not only firm and resolute, but even replenished with joy, as if the day of His passion was a day of triumph. Just as a few drops of water sprinkled upon a flame only adds a fresh intensity to its glow, so did His torments, embraced in a charity which made the burden seem light, serve to augment his joy and desire of suffering still greater affliction.
Moreover, reflect that throughout His entire life, He was motivated, not by compulsion or self-interest, but rather by pure love alone, that you may learn from Him the manner of practicing patience. Endeavor, therefore, to attain a perfect knowledge of what He demands of you, and consider His delight at your practice of patience. Then form an ardent desire of carrying this cross and heavier ones, not only with patience, but with joy, that you may more exactly imitate Christ crucified and render yourself more acceptable to Him.
Picture to ourself all the torments and indignities of His passion, and amazed at His constancy, blush at your own weakness. Look upon your sufferings as merely imaginative when compared to His, and regard your patience as not even the faintest adumbration of His. Dread nothing so much as an unwillingness to suffer for your Savior, rejecting such unwillingness as a suggestion from Hell.
Consider Jesus on the Cross as you would a devout book worthy of your unceasing study and by which you may learn the practice of the most heroic virtues. This is the book which may be truly called the "Book of Life" [Apocalypse, III, 5], which at once enlightens the mind by its doctrines and inflames the will by its examples. The world is full of books, but were it possible for man to read them all, he would never be so well instructed to hate vice and embrace virtue as by contemplating a crucified God. But remember that there are those who spend hours lamenting the passion of our Lord and admiring His patience, and yet on the first occasion betray as great an impatience in suffering as if they had never thought of the cross. Such men are like untried soldiers, who in their barracks breathe nothing but conquest, but on the first appearance of the enemy, beat a hasty and inglorious retreat. What is more despicable after considering, admiring and extolling the virtues of our Redeemer, than to forget them all in an instant when an opportunity of practicing them presents itself?
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
Chapter Forty Four: Prayer
Chapter Forty Five: Mental Prayer
Chapter Forty Six: Meditation
Chapter Forty Seven: ANOTHER METHOD OF MEDITATION
Chapter Forty Eight: A METHOD OF PRAYER BASED ON THE INTERCESSION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Chapter Forty Nine: SOME CONSIDERATIONS TO INDUCE CONFIDENCE IN THE ASSISTANCE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Chapter Fifty: A METHOD OF MEDITATION AND PRAYER INVOLVING THE INTERCESSION OF THE SAINTS AND THE ANGELS
Chapter Fifty One: MEDITATION ON THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST AND THE SENTIMENTS TO BE DERIVED FROM CONTEMPLATION OF THEM
Chapter Fifty Two: THE BENEFITS DERIVED FROM MEDITATIONS ON THE CROSS, AND THE IMITATION OF THE VIRTUE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED
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