The Spiritual Combat

Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli


ON awaking in the morning, the first thing to be observed by your inward sight is the listed field in which you are enclosed, the law of the combat being that he who fights not must there lie dead for ever. Here picture to your self, on one side, your enemy (that evil inclination which you are already pledged to conquer) now standing before you, ready armed to wound and slay you: see also, on the right hand, your victorious Captain Jesus Christ, with His most holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and her beloved spouse St. Joseph, and innumerable hosts of angels, especially St. Michael the archangel; and, on the left hand, the infernal demon, with all his armies, ready to excite this passion and to persuade you to yield to it. Then shall you seem to hear a voice as of your guardian angel addressing you:

"You are to fight this day against this and other enemies of yours. Let not your heart fail, nor your spirit faint. Yield not on any account, neither for fear nor any other cause; for our Lord, your Leader, stands beside you with all His glorious hosts, and will do battle for you against all your enemies and will not suffer their form to prevail against you or to overcome you.

"Only stand firm; do violence to yourself, and endure the pain such violence will cause you. Cry unceasingly from the depths of your heart, and call upon the Lord, and so assuredly shalt you gain the victory. If you are weak and inexperienced, if your enemies are strong and manifold, manifold more are the succors of Him who created and redeemed you, and mightier beyond all measure and comparison is your God, and more willing to save you than are all your enemies to destroy you.

"Fight valiantly then, and be not loathe to suffer; for it is this toilsome resistance to your evil inclinations, this painful struggle against evil habits, which shall gain you the victory, and win for you a treasure wherewith to purchase the kingdom of heaven, and unite your soul to God for ever."

Begin the combat in the name of the Lord, with the weapons of selfdistrust and trust in God, of prayer and spiritual exercises; and challenge to the battle your foe, that is, that inclination, whatever it be, which, according to the order above laid down, you have resolved to conquer. Do this, now by open resistance, now by deep abhorrence, or, again, by acts of the contrary virtue, wounding him again and again, even unto death, to give pleasure to your Lord, who is looking on, with the whole Church triumphant, to behold your conflict.

I tell you again, you must not weary of the struggle, but remember the obligation which lies on us all to serve and please God, and the absolute necessity of fighting in this battle, from which none can escape without wounds or death. I tell you, moreover, that if as a rebel you would fly from God, and give yourself over to the world and the delights of the flesh, you will still be forced, in spite of yourself, to labor in the sweat of your brow against many and many an adversary, who will pierce your heart with deadly anguish.

Consider, then, what folly it would be to incur all this toil and trouble, which does but lead to greater toil, and endless trouble and spiritual death, in order to avoid that which will soon be over, and which will lead us to eternal and infinite blessedness in the everlasting enjoyment of our God.

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