Spiritual Combat

Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli


OUR malignant foe, thus repulsed in his first and second assault and stratagem, has recourse to a third, which is, to turn away our attention from the enemies who are close at hand to injure and assail us, and to fill us with resolutions and desires after higher degrees of perfection.

Hence we are continually being wounded; yet we pay no attention to our wounds, and looking upon these resolutions as already fulfilled, we take pride in them in various ways.

And while we cannot endure the least thing or the slightest word which crosses our will, we were our time in long meditations and resolutions to endure the acutest sufferings on earth or in purgatory for the love of God.

And because our inferior part feels no repugnance at these things in the distance, we flatter ourselves, miserable creatures as we are, into the conceit that we belong to the class of patient and heroic sufferers.

To avoid this snare, resolve to fight manfully against the enemies who are close at hand, and actually waging war against you. You will thus discover whether your resolutions are real or imaginary, weak or strong; and so you will go on to virtue and perfection by the beaten and royal road.

But against enemies who are not wont to trouble you I do not advise you to take up arms, unless there appear a probability of their making an attack at some future time. In this case it is lawful to make resolutions beforehand, that you may be found strong and prepared.

Do not, however, judge of your resolutions by their effects, even though you should have long and faithfully exercised yourself in virtue; but be very humble with regard to them; fear yourself and your own weakness, and trust in God, and seek His help by frequent prayer to strengthen and preserve you in all dangers, and especially from the very slightest presumption or selfconfidence.

For in this case, though we may not be able to overcome some slight defects which our Lord sometimes leaves in us in order to greater, humility and selfknowledge, and for the protection of some virtue, we may yet be permitted to form purposes of aspiring to higher degrees of perfection.

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