None shall be crowned who has not fought well.

                                                                           ------- 2 Tim. 2: 5

Taken from the book of the same title by DOM LORENZO SCUPOLI
With Imprimatur
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IF WE ENGAGE in the spiritual combat with no other weapons than a distrust of self and confidence in God, we will not only be deprived of a victory over our passions, but we must expect frequently to commit greater blunders. It is necessary, therefore, to employ correctly the faculties of body and soul, the third means we proposed as requisite for the attainment of perfection.

Let us begin with regulating the understanding and the will. The understanding must be freed from two great defects under which it frequently labors. The first is ignorance. This prevents the attainment of truth, the proper object of its inquiries. Exercise makes it lucid and brightens it, so that it can clearly discern how to purge the soul of all irregular attachments and adorn it with the necessary virtues. The means of accomplishing this are as follows.

The primary means is prayer, by which is sought the light of the Holy Spirit, Who never rejects those who earnestly seek God, who delight in obeying His law, and who, in all decisions, submit their own judgment to that of their superiors.

The second is a persistent application to the serious and diligent examination of every object in order to distinguish the good from the evil. A judgment is formed which is not in accord with external appearances, the testimony of our senses, or the standards of a corrupt world, but which is conformable to the judgment of the Holy Spirit.

Then we shall clearly see that what the world pursues with such eagerness and affection is mere vanity and illusion; that ambition and pleasure are dreams which, once shattered, are succeeded by sorrow and regret; that ignominy is a subject of glory, and sufferings a source of joy; that nothing can be more noble or approach the Divine nature more closely than to forgive those who injure us, and to return good for evil.

We shall see clearly that it is greater to despise the world than to have it at one's command; that it is infinitely preferable to submit to the humblest of men for God's sake, than to command kings and princes; that an humble knowledge of ourselves surpasses the deepest sciences; in short, that greater praise is due to him who curbs his passion on the most trivial occasions, than to him who conquers the strongest cities, defeats entire armies, or even works miracles and raises the dead to life.


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