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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Spiritual Combat- How a man may know whether he is active in Self-Distrust

Spiritual Combat - Fight or Die


How a man may know whether he is active in Self-Distrust and Trust in God

The Spiritual Combat is a famous classic on the strategy for achieving spiritual perfection and salvation. First published in 1589, it was the favorite book of the great Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Doctor of the Church and master of the spiritual life; he carried a copy in his pocket for 18 years, read from it every day and recommended it to everyone under his direction. 


Vigorous, realistic and full of keen insight into human nature, The Spiritual Combat consists of 66 short chapters based on the maxim that in the spiritual life one must either "Fight or die." It shows the Christian how to combat his passions and vices with an intelligent method, in order to arrive at victory, rather than running around blindly beating the air. Father Scupoli explains how to concentrate one's energies in order to make constant progress in acquiring virtue, with particularly specific advice for overcoming the vices of impurity and sloth.
The Spiritual Combat is a book of time-tested strategy for achieving spiritual victory; it is a great guide on which to form one's soul and launch it firmly on the way of solid virtue. The Spiritual Combat is one of the all-time greatest and best-known classics on the spiritual life and is a book that will inspire and instruct today just as it has for over 400 years.



How a man may know whether he is active in Self-Distrust and Trust in God

crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)The presumptuous servant often supposes that he has acquired self-distrust and trust in God when the case is far otherwise.
And this will be made clear to thee by the effect produced on thy mind by a fall. If thou art so saddened and disquieted thereby as to be tempted to despair of making progress or doing good, it is a sure sign that thy trust is in self and not in God. For he who has any large measure of self-distrust and trust in God feels neither surprise, nor despondency, nor bitterness, when he falls; for he knows that this has arisen from his own weakness and want of trust in God. On the contrary, being, rendered thereby more distrustful of self, more humbly confident in God, detesting above all things his fault and the unruly passions which have occasioned it, and mourning with a quiet, deep, and patient sorrow over his offense against God, he pursues his enterprise, and follows after his enemies, even to the death, with a spirit more resolute and undaunted than before.
I would that these things were well considered by certain persons so called spiritual, who cannot and will not be at rest when they have fallen into any fault. They rush to their spiritual father, rather to get rid of the anxiety and uneasiness which spring from wounded self-love than for that purpose which should be their chief end in seeking him, to purify themselves from the stain of sin, and to fortify themselves against its power by means of the most Holy Sacrament of Penance.


Chapter V

Of the Error of Many, Who Mistake Pusillanimity for a Virtue

crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)Many also deceive themselves in this way, they mistake the fear and uneasiness which follow after sin for virtuous emotions; and know not that these painful feelings spring from wounded pride, and a presumption which rests upon confidence in themselves and their own strength. They have accounted themselves to be something, and relied unduly upon their own powers. Their fall proves to them the vanity of this self-dependence, and they are immediately troubled and astonished as at some strange thing, and are disheartened at seeing the prop to which they trusted suddenly give way.
This can never befall the humble man, who trusts in his God alone, and in nothing presumes upon himself. Though grieved when he falls into a fault, he is neither surprised nor disquieted; for he knows that his own misery and weakness, already clearly manifest to himself by the light of truth, have brought all this upon him.


Chapter VI

Further directions how to attain Self-Distrust and Trust in God

crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)Since our whole power to subdue our enemies arises principally from self-distrust and trust in God, I will give you some further directions to enable you, by the Divine Assistance, to acquire it. Know, then, for a certain truth, that neither all gifts, natural or acquired, nor all graces given gratis, nor the knowledge of all Scripture, nor long habitual exercise in the service of God, will enable us to do His will, unless in every good and acceptable work to be performed, in every temptation to be overcome, in every peril to be avoided, in every Cross to be borne in conformity to His will, our heart be sustained and up-borne by an especial aid from Him, and His hand be outstretched to help us. We must, then, bear this in mind all our life long, every day, every hour, every moment, that we may never indulge so much as a thought of self-confidence.
And as to confidence in God, know that it is as easy to Him to conquer many enemies as few; the old and experienced as the weak and young.
Therefore we will suppose a soul to be heavy-laden with sins, to have every possible fault and every imaginable defect, and to have tried, by every possible means and every kind of Spiritual Exercise, to forsake sin and to practice holiness. We will suppose this soul to have done all this, and yet to have failed in making the smallest advance in holiness, nay, on the contrary, to have been borne the more strongly towards evil.
For all this she must not lose her trust in God, nor give over her spiritual conflict and lay down her arms, but still fight on resolutely, knowing that none is vanquished in this spiritual combat but he who ceases to struggle and loses confidence in God, whose succor never fails His soldiers, though He sometimes permits them to be wounded. Fight on, then, valiantly; for on this depends the whole issue of the strife; for there is a ready and effectual remedy for the wounds of all combatants who look confidently to God and to His aid for help; and when they least expect it they shall see their enemies dead at their feet.