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 is 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 - without 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 blindness.
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: The first thing upon rising consider that the enemy is already upon you. Begin the combat immediately armed with distrust of self and confidence in God.
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, turning 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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