The Spiritual Combat

Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli


SELFDISTRUST, necessary as we have shown it to be in this conflict, is not alone sufficient. Unless we would be put to flight, or remain helpless and vanquished in the hands of our enemies, we must add to it perfect trust in God, and expect from Him alone succour and victory. For as we, who are nothing, can look for nothing from ourselves but falls, and therefore should utterly distrust ourselves; so from our Lord may we assuredly expect complete victory in every conflict. To obtain His help, let us therefore arm ourselves with a lively confidence in Him.

And this also may be accomplished in four ways.

1st. By asking it of God.

2dly. By gazing with the eye of faith at the infinite wisdom and omnipotence of God, to which nothing is impossible or difficult, and confiding in His unbounded goodness and unspeakable willingness to give, hour by hour and moment by moment, all things needful for the spiritual life, and perfect victory over ourselves, if we will but throw ourselves with confidence into His arms. For how shall our Divine Shepherd, who followed after His lost sheep for threeandthirty years with loud and bitter cries through that painful and thorny way, wherein He spilt His heart's blood and laid down His life _ how shall He refuse to turn His quickening glance upon the poor sheep which now follows Him in obedience to His commands, or with a desire (though sometimes faint and feeble) to obey Him! When it cries to Him piteously for help, will He not hear, and laying it upon His divine shoulders, call upon His friends and all the angels of heaven to rejoice with Him? For if our Lord ceased not to search most diligently for the blind and deaf sinner, the lost drachma of the gospel, till He found him; can He abandon him who, like a lost sheep, cries and calls piteously upon his Shepherd? And if God knocks continually at the heart of man, desiring to enter in and sup there, and to communicate to it His gifts, who can believe that when that heart opens and invites Him to enter, He will turn a deaf ear to the invitation, and refuse to come in?

3dly. The third way to acquire this holy confidence is, to call to mind that truth so plainly taught in Holy Scripture, that no one who trusted in God has ever been confounded.

4thly. The fourth, which will serve at once towards the attainment of selfdistrust and of trust in God, is this: when any duty presents itself to be done, any struggle with self to be made, any victory over self to be attempted, before proposing or resolving upon it, think first upon your own weakness; next turn, full of selfdistrust, to the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God; and in reliance upon these, resolve to labor and to fight generously. Then, with these weapons in your hands, and with the help of prayer (of which we shall speak in its proper place), set yourself to labor and to strive.

Unless you observe this order, though you may seem to yourself to be doing all things in reliance upon God, you will too often find yourself mistaken; for so common is a presumptuous selfconfidence, and so subtle are the forms it assumes, that it lurks almost always even under an imagined selfdistrust and fancied confidence in God.

To avoid presumption as much as possible, and in order that all your works may be wrought in distrust of self and trust in God, the consideration of your own weakness must precede the consideration of God's omnipotence; and both together must precede all your actions.

Continue to next chaper xviii9-20

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