In every age the intensity of spiritual combat in order to gain
salvation never abates, but is ever renewed with ferocity. But in the
21st century the combat against powers and principalities, the domain
of the devil and his unleashed power has never been more cruel and
difficult; after centuries of Christendom, apostasy is increasing, both
in strength and magnitude, while new enticing forms of paganism and
self-centered philosophies are gaining adherents daily. But the worse
aspect is that many Catholic Churchmen, in the highest quarters have
either abandoned whole parts of the Catholic Faith or never had the
fullness of the Faith. Every where is mass confusion and many many
voices that lead like alluring sirens, follow me, I know the way
through the thicket of thorns.
For the serious Catholic whose salvation is front and center in his
life and who has never forsaken Tradition because he has the grace to
know that the Faith is Tradition and Tradition is the Faith, the rules
of spiritual combat have not changed. The classic work is THE SPIRITUAL
COMBAT by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli. The entire work is on line here in the
Classics directory - link below. For those who need a refresher or are
searching for some pointers to keep daily in mind, we have extracted
from this great classic the basic rules in synopsis. The four
overarching principles of spiritual combat are:
I. Distrust of One's Self
II. Confidence in God
III. Proper Use of the Mind and Body - the Prevention of Deception and the Right Exercise of the Will
IV. Duty of Fidelity to Prayer
Elaborated on succinctly are the following 12 rules or daily guide:
1. Distrust of one's self
first and an absolute essential - to know that one is filled with
afflictions of every kind is an actual grace from Heaven and the
beginning of wisdom and spiritual perfection.
2. Confidence in God
which we can do nothing even though we distrust ourselves, which alone
leaves us open to being plucked easily by Satan. This confidence must
be asked for and with sincere humility of heart. We have only to ask
and wait upon Our Lord.
3. The necessity of freeing ourselves from ignorance, so that we might know how to make correct judgments
about that which affects our salvation - to be aware of our inordinate passions and their ability to deceive us.
Thus we have to detach ourselves from the things of this world and
those persons who incite our passions o lead us away from true
spiritual combat. We also have to refuse to give into curiosity about
New Age meditation, philosophy and so forth, such as Eastern religious
or mental exercises, which includes yoga; some would say that this is
extreme, but the simplicity of yoga is one of the many doorways by
which Satan enters so surreptitiously.
4. In union with rule #3 is Prevention of deception
. Our minds must be free of gossip, or the free wandering into the fever of the latest news for the sake of curiosity. Our greatest ambition, our main focus - must be to see the Crucified Christ and what efforts He demands of us.
Seek nothing beyond this, for anything beyond is but a form of deception and or self-will and self-love.
5. Conformity of our will to the Will of God
Not only must we please God by our actions, but they must be performed
under His grace in order to please Him. This aspect of spiritual combat
is the greatest struggle because man is ever inclined to his own
satisfaction. Do not mistake the impulse of the heart for the prompting
of the Holy Ghost. Purity of heart is essential, at the very least
awareness of this human impulse that mimics the working of grace. It is
necessary to mortify our passions in the smallest of things that we
might not be susceptible to the greater which will keep us rooted in
6. To acquire any virtue, one must first practice small acts of the virtue desired,
and to do so repeatedly so that the habit is instilled. Perseverance is the key!
7. Even when the will seems overcome by powerful temptations, do not give up,
press on by saying I will not surrender! Remember Satan needs your permission!
8. Prepare early:
first thing upon rising consider that the enemy is already upon you.
Begin the combat immediately armed with distrust of self and confidence
9. The avoidance as much as humanly possible anything that intrudes into peace of mind
Rule no. # here, once a past sin is forgiven, let it lie in the past -
do not allow past sins to be vexatious. to disturb peace of mind and
prayer. The devil hates peace of mind, calmness and serenity of spirit.
A troubled heart is open to Satan.
10. Always repent of a fall from grave immediately, t
urning at once to God! Rely on Him. Let us not misuse the grace of God,
let us be humble and prudent in our resolutions, not being overly
ambitious - we must be wary of our own vanities - be loathe to accept
praise; let us recall to mind how short life is and how long eternity!
Consider each moment one's last on earth!
11. Virtues are to be acquired one at
a time and by degrees, although the practice of which must be constant.
Do not fall into the trap of fervor to the extent that one thinks of
himself as virtuous.
12. The necessity of prayer. Prayer and interior mortification are inseparable. Never cease praising and thanking God!
The above image of St. Joan of Arc is by Harold Piffard, 1867-1938.
The Saint contemplating Christ Crucified in the stained glass image is
St. Rita of Cascia.
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