Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Spiritual Combat

“Bear patiently the wrath of God which comes upon you in punishment for your sins.” –Baruch 4:25

“The patience of the poor shall not perish, or be deprived of its reward.” Psalms 9:19

“The patient man is better then the valiant; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh cities.” –Proverbs 16:32

“By your patience you will win your souls.” –Luke 21:19

“With patience run to the fight set before us.” –Hebrews 12:1

These or similar aspirations may be used: “O my God, when shall I be armed with patience as a shield against the weapons of my enemy! When shall I so love Thee as to receive with joy all the afflictions Thou shalt be pleased to send? O life of my soul, shall I never begin to live for Thy glory alone, perfectly resigned to all sufferings? O how happy should I be, if in the fiery triad of tribulation. I burn with a desire of being for Thy service.”  —Dom Lorenzo Scupoli ‘The Spiritual Combat’


Proper standing

Be mindful, in humility and resignation, that all of the benevolent aims you now have may not be carried out for want of courage once God his made you equal to their execution.  At least you must consider the possibility of God’s denying you the satisfaction of doing a good work, either by a hidden disposition of divine Providence, or as an atonement for past offenses; perhaps in His wisdom, He wishes to see your human will attuned to His Divine Will, and see you humble in spirit before omnipotence itself.  –‘The Spiritual Combat’ Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Spiritual Combat

The significant eyes of one, tweaking a smile, resisting a wrestle,
Humbled, allowing refreshing, kneeling, surrendering within forgiveness row,
A pew, a path, anew amidst the saturation of a touch,
Gentleness and kindness, a significant feeling one must become better,
Growing silent in speech, growing silent in interaction, allowing patience and space to fertilize,
Understanding, comprehending that which serves in prayer provides in love,
Traversing a mountain, generational sin, overcoming a past, climbing backwards into an authentic heart,
A mirror upon the mind laying bare, removing old crosses creating crosses, curses and reflective dares, stares into the unconscious,
Delegating no blame, rejecting chattering refrains, eliminating chaotic choruses, avoiding everything over and over, denouncing frigid habitual descending stairs,
It is good to know myself, to stomp upon the head of the serpent alive through my life, to delight in simplicity, to love in immensity.


A spiritual infant

I worked seven days last week, over the weekend enduring two days without senior leadership. I am absolutely stressed out, not dealing with anything well, worrying about being fired, anxiety tying me in knots. Things are coming very difficult at work. Spiritually, I am drained, resorting to fear, convinced I am being humbled. The St Theresa of Lisieux quote seems appropriate. It is one thing to romanticize about being forcefully humiliated, and another to suffer the process. I am being humbled, humiliated by mistakes, forced to admit weaknesses and shortcomings to others. I can only offer God my silence and prayers, asking to be guided, strengthened in order to pursue matters with the Hospice. Time is troubled, and yet maybe all time is troubled. I feel exhausted, yet not hopeless. I know I will never drink again. Maybe for the first time in my life, I am working through situations in life that present serious challenge to my self-esteem and delusion; coping with the strenuous difficulties of advancing in life. I relate matters to living at the artist commune, living amongst highly intelligent and gifted individuals who honestly had no clue how to live their lives. Forced to embrace the concept of being a misunderstood genius they could not apply themselves constructively and advancingly to a practical, workable, way of life. They could not accept life on life’s terms. They presented the world with delusion, constantly making unsatisfied demands, and naturally the world would not accommodate. The inevitable consequence presented itself through lives of strife, addiction, perversion, turmoil, and constant change—always adapting and rearranging circumstances and situations in order to sustain personally satisfying illusions. Change, the altering of circumstance, social worlds, employment, and geography became a constant. My reading for the day steered toward the ‘The Spiritual Combat’ by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, focusing upon the subtly of the sinful nature.

It is beyond all dispute that a willing cooperation with the graces of Heaven is the only way of escaping this delusion…. When I say “willing cooperation” I do not mean mere desires, or feeble and sterile resolutions, by which so many are deceived. The following are the reasons:

First. The foundation for such desires and resolutions is not mistrust of one’s own abilities and confidence in God. The result is that a soul, inflated with secret pride, is so blind that it takes for solid virtue what is mere illusion. The remedy for this evil, and the acumen necessary to recognize it, must be obtained from Heaven which permits us to fall. This is done that our eyes may be opened by sad experience, that we may reassign the confidence we had in ourselves to divine grace, and that we may exchange an almost imperceptible pride for a humble knowledge of our own weakness. Good resolutions will never be firm and steady unless they are founded on a mistrust of one’s own strength and on confidence in God.

Second. When we make a good resolution, we merely consider the beauty and excellence of virtue, which attracts even the most vapid minds, but we never consider the difficulties of attaining it. Consequently, cowardly souls are dismayed at the first sign of trouble and they hurriedly abandon their project. For this reason, it would be better for you to consider the difficulties which occur in acquiring virtue, rather than the virtues themselves, and to prepare yourself accordingly. You may rest assured that the greater courage you show in conquering yourself or defeating your enemies, the sooner will your difficulties diminish, and they will gradually vanish.

Third. We are too concerned with our personal advantage, rather than with virtue and adherence to the will of God. This frequently happens when we are comforted by the consolations we receive in a time of affliction. Finding that the comforts of the world have escaped us, we resolve to dedicate ourselves to God’s service.

To be free of this charge, let us be careful not to misuse the grace of God. Let us be humble and prudent in forming good resolutions. Let us not seek extraordinary favors through rash promises which are beyond our capacities to fulfill.

If we are burdened with affliction, let us merely ask to carry our Cross as we should, since it comes from God. Let this be our glory, and we shall seek no alleviation from earth, or Heaven itself. Let us ask, let us implore only that God may strengthen us in our trial, and that we may patiently undergo the trials He sees fit to send.

A prayer: Lord allow me to advance toward You within a solid sane struggle with life.  Grace me with the humility and wisdom to accept reality.  Darken my life if my love and desire to serve You is an escape from life.  Lord open my heart to the awareness of secret pride, that subtle joy which builds in me through my devotion to You, establishing a self-esteem based upon arrogance.

Suddenly my mind went to buying donuts for St Paul Shrine.  Lawyer Jim and I alternate weeks buying the donuts served after Sunday mass.  Yesterday I took such pride in everyone clamoring about how nice the donuts were.  Sister Regina had me organize and prepare the presentation of the donuts.  I made quite a nice, colorful seasonal display, serving apple cider with the donuts.  Lawyer Jim and his wife were disconcerted by what I had done, questioning my efforts, complimenting yet troubled.  He purchases donuts on Friday since they are so cheap at Giant Eagle and freezes them, or he searches out some other discount, always being cheap basically.  I took such pride in how dismayed he was, laughing with Sister Regina how cheap he is and how wonderful my fresh donuts were, taking great pride in what should have been a humble service of anonymity.  It is not a serious sin, yet laughing like that with sister is a sign of the subtle and secret pride I possess due to my dedication to the spiritual life.  When I should focus upon my serious gaps in trust and obedience, I am totally tuned to what a great man I am for supplying splendid treats.


The Eucharist and prayer

To pray is to glorify God’s infinite goodness, to give word to divine mercy, to bring joy and expansion to God’s love of his creature by the fulfillment of the law of grace, which is prayer.  By prayer, therefore, man gives God the greatest glory possible.  Prayer is man’s greatest virtue.  All virtues are comprised in it, for all the virtues are a preparation for it and a part of it.  Faith believes, hope prays, and charity begs in order to give to others; humility of heart forms the prayer, confidence speaks it, and perseverance triumphs over God himself.

Eucharistic prayer has an additional merit; it goes straight to the heart of God like a flaming dart; it makes Jesus work, act, and relive in his sacrament; it releases his power.  The adorer does still more: he prays through Jesus Christ and shares our Lord’s role as intercessor with the Father and divine advocate for his redeemed brethren.  –St Peter Julian Eymard ‘How to Adore’



The Fortifying of those called to a deeper way

Whoever seeks to approach the eternal truth and fountain of all light must know himself thoroughly. He must not imitate the pride (self-consciousness and insecurity) of those who obtain no other knowledge than what their sins (brokenness and imperfection, passed through generations, not just immorality) provide, and who begin to open their eyes only when they are plunged into some disgraceful and unforeseen debacle (free will usurping Divine Will). This happens through God’s permission that they may know their own weakness, and, by sad experience, learn not to rely on their own strength. God seldom applies so severe a remedy against their presumption unless more proper means have failed.

Briefly, He permits persons to sin more or less grievously in proportion to their pride, and, if there were any as free from pride as the Blessed Virgin (able to propitiously transcend personal desires and identity—aware and knowing herself, she remained hidden within her life, glorying in God as a contemplative), I dare say they would never fall. As often as you commit a fault, therefore, immediately strive to probe your inner consciousness; earnestly beg Our Lord to enlighten you, that you may see yourself as you are in His sight, and presume no more on your strength. Otherwise you will fall again into the same faults, or perhaps much greater ones to the eternal ruin of your soul. –‘The Spiritual Combat’ Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Spiritual Combat


Day by Day, stone by stone, build your secret slowly

Certain portions of Sacred Scripture, attentively pronounced or reverently considered, are similarly of great efficacy.  Consequently, we should be familiar with those facts corresponding to the virtue in question (virtue concentrated upon), and employ them frequently, particularly when beset by the predominant opposite passion.  Those, for instance, who’s strive to attain mildness and patience may repeat these or similar passages: 

“Bear patiently with the wrath of God which comes upon you in punishment for your sins.”  –Baruch 4:25

“The patience of the poor shall not perish, or be deprived of its reward”.  –Psalm 9:19

“The patient man is better than the valiant; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he taketh cities.”  –Proverbs 16:32

“By your patience you will win your soul.”  –Luke 12:1

“With patience run to the fight set before us”.  –Hebrews 12:1

Those or similar aspirations may be used: “O God, when shall I be armed with patience as a shield against the weapons of my enemy?  When shall I so love Thee as to receive with joy all the afflictions Thou shalt be pleased to send?  O life of my soul, shall I never begin to live for Thy glory alone, perfectly resigned to all sufferings?  O how happy, I should be, if in the fiery trial of tribulation, I burn with a desire of being consumed for Thy service”.

–Dom Lorenzo Scupoli ‘The Spiritual Combat’

Spiritual Combat


Spiritual Combat

…you must not attempt to acquire patience by immediately seeking crosses in which to delight; rather seek first the lowest degrees of this great virtue.  Similarly, do not aim at all sorts of virtue—not even many—simultaneously, but cultivate one firmly, then another, if you wish such habits to take deep root in your soul with greater facility.  For in the acquisition of a particular virtue, and in the focusing of thought upon its cultivation, the memory will be exercised more in this one line of endeavor; your understanding, enlightened by divine assistance, will find new means and stronger motives for attaining it, and the will itself will be invigorated with fresh ardor in the pursuit.  Such concentrated power of action is not possible when the three faculties are divided, as it were, by different objects. –Dom Lorenzo Scupoli ‘The Spiritual Combat’

St Dominic painting El Greco

St Dominic painting El Greco