The Spiritual Combat

Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli


IT is of great importance that we should know how to observe a due order in this combat, lest, as too many do to their own great injury, we should fight in a casual or desultory manner. The order to be observed in the warfare against your enemies and evil inclinations should be as follows:

Look well into your heart, and search diligently till you have discovered by what thoughts and affections it is surrounded, and by what passion it is most tyrannously swayed; and against this first take up arms and direct your attack. If meanwhile you should be assaulted by other enemies, turn against the one nearest to you and which at the moment threatens you; but fail not to return afterwards to the prosecution of your principal enterprise.


UNTIL we have become habituated to ward off sudden strokes, whether of insult or other adverse circumstances, it is well, in order to acquire such a habit, to anticipate them, and desire to suffer them over and over again, and so to await them with a mind prepared.

The way to anticipate them is, to consider the passion to which you are most inclined, and also the places wherein and the persons with whom you are wont to converse; whence you may readily conjecture what is likely to befall you. And should you meet with any other untoward circumstance which you have not foreseen, although you will find your soul strengthened by having been prepared to meet the other evils which you did foresee, yet may you also avail yourself of the following additional help.

At the very first touch of the insult or `trial', whatever it be, rouse yourself at once, and lift up your heart to God, reflecting on His ineffable goodness and love, which sends you this affliction, that, by enduring it for the love of Him, you may thereby be more purified, and brought nearer and united unto Him.

And, knowing how greatly He is pleased that you should suffer it, turn next to yourself and with a sharp rebuke say, "O, why will you refuse to bear this cross, which is sent to you not by man, but by your Father who is in heaven!" Then turn to the cross, and embrace it with all possible patience and joy, saying, "O cross, formed by Divine providence before I was born; O cross, endeared to me by the dear love of my crucified Lord, nail me now to you, that so I may give myself to Him who died on you for my redemption!"

And if at first the passion should prevail against you, and you should be wounded, and unable to raise your heart to God, strive even then to do as at the beginning, and fight as if still unwounded.

The most effectual remedy, however, against these sudden impulses is to remove the cause from whence they proceed. Thus, if you discover that, through your affection for any object, you are thrown into a sudden agitation of mind as often as it is presented to you, the remedy is by persevering efforts to withdraw your affection from it.

But if the agitation proceed from a person who is so disagreeable to you that every little action of his annoys and irritates you, the remedy here is to force yourself to love and cherish him, not only as a creature formed by the same sovereign Hand with yourself, and created anew by the same Divine blood, but also because he offers you an opportunity, if you will accept it, of becoming like your Lord, who is kind and loving unto all men.

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