Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: The Spiritual Combat: Ch 9. ANOTHER METHOD TO PREVENT DECEPTION
Posted on 05/12/2009 8:43:13 PM PDT by GonzoII
CURIOSITY IS ANOTHER vice from which the mind must be free. If we indulge in vain, frivolous, or sinful dreams, our minds will become incapable of choosing the proper mortification of our disorderly affections.
All earthly things, except those absolutely necessary, must die through our complete disregard for them, even though they are not wrong in themselves. We must control our minds and not permit them to wander aimlessly about. Our minds must become insensible to mundane projects, to gossip, to the feverish search for news. Our indifference to the affairs of this world must give them a dream-like quality.
The same holds true for Heavenly things. We must be discreet and humble. Our greatest ambition must be to see the crucified Christ always before us, His life and death, what efforts He demands of us.
Seek nothing beyond this. It will please the Divine Master. His real friends ask only for those things that will enable them to fulfill His commissions. Any other desire, any other quest, is but self-love, spiritual pride, an encirclement by the devil.
Such a disciplined conduct is well fortified against the assaults of the devil. When this skilled opponent sees the fervor of persons beginning spiritual exercises and the fixed resolution of their wills, he insinuates his subtleties into their understanding. A breakthrough here permits him to push his way to the will. He is then the master of both these faculties.
As a feint, he inflates their imagination in moments of prayer, suggesting elevated sentiments. He works particularly on those who are curious and discerning by nature, who are subject to self-conceit and are fond of their own schemes. His aim, of course, is to amuse them with idle dreams and the sensible pleasure they afford so that, drugged with a false sense of appreciation of God, they may forget to cleanse their hearts, to examine themselves, and to practice mortification. In this way they become inflated with pride, and they idolize their own understanding.
Having become accustomed to consult no one but themselves, they finally are persuaded that they no longer need the advice or assistance of others.
It is a deadly, an almost incurable disease. It is much more difficult to remedy pride of the understanding than that of the heart. As soon as pride of the heart is discovered by the intelligence, it can be removed by a voluntary submission to proper authorities. But if a persons imagines, and persists in maintaining, that he is wiser than his superiors, how will his deception be shattered?
How will he discover his error? To whose judgment will he submit so long as he considers himself wiser than the rest of the world?
If the understanding, the searchlight of the soul, which alone can discover and rectify the vanity of the heart, is itself blinded and swollen with pride, who is able to cure it?
If the light changes to darkness, if the leader is treacherous, what will happen to the rest?
Be on guard, therefore, against such a fatal attack. Never let it overwhelm your minds.
We must train ourselves to conform to the judgment of others. Without carrying our notions of spirituality too high, let us become enamored with the folly and simplicity recommended so highly by the Apostle; then shall we surpass Solomon himself in wisdom.
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.
Full title:ANOTHER METHOD TO PREVENT DECEPTION OF THE UNDERSTANDING
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