The Spiritual Combat apparently had quite an influence on St Francis de Sales, so the similarities do not surprise me. The book itself is at once very practical but also centred entirely on advancement in the spiritual life. Scupoli gives great practical advice on day-to-day conduct to build up virtue and root out vices, as well as on prayer. Everything is presented in short little chapters on specific topics; not a few of them focus on how to counter the attacks of the devil. Francis de Sales recommended this as a regular reading companion for the spiritual life. This is not something I recommend attempting to read quickly, but rather reading slowly, prayerfully, intentionally.

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The book was a favorite of my patron, St. Francis de Sales, but I was especially drawn to it by the title. And I was eager to learn spiritual kung-fu to confound and defeat my enemies. But therein is the reason I was disappointed. The first chapter reveals the enemy that you will be fighting: yourself. The paradox of dying to self to save yourself is in full swing in this book. In so many areas of life we are able to weasel out of self-reflection and awareness by blaming our faults and failings on circumstances and environments.

Sometimes we blame demons. But Scupoli is even slightly dismissive of demons. They cannot make us sin, but only tempt us. And God has promised that his grace is always sufficiently weighted in our struggles to afford us a way out of even the most difficult tempting 1 Corinthians The entirety of the book can be summed up as the below chapter begins: mistrust of self and trust of God.

Remember, God made us out of nothing. Go ahead, try to picture nothing. Now, make something of that! Men can cultivate what is before us, but that is a working with that which is already created cultivate has the same root word as culture, cult, which means worship. You want to renew culture? But how often do we think we are something! We deceive ourselves so easily into thinking that our talents, achievements, and even spiritual advancement are our own creation, as if we made it from nothing.

This is one of the great self-deceptions that Scupoli tries to excise from his reader: your spiritual progress is always in cooperation with and dependent upon God. Knowing this we will never be surprised that when self is in control, bad things happen. Self is not trustworthy, so why be surprised when self leads us to fall? Knowing this does not create indifference when we do sin, but our failings cease to surprise us, and we use them as a great means to again renew our trust in God, because in Him alone do we have confidence.

Men, you are something, but only in God. Have you fallen? Know, then, for a certain truth, that neither all gifts, natural or acquired, nor all graces given gratis, nor the knowledge of all Scripture, nor long habitual exercise in the service of God, will enable us to do His will, unless in every good and acceptable work to be performed, in every temptation to be overcome, in every peril to be avoided, in every Cross to be borne in conformity to His will, our heart be sustained and up-borne by an especial aid from Him, and His hand be outstretched to help us.

We must, then, bear this in mind all our life long, every day, every hour, every moment, that we may never indulge so much as a thought of self-confidence. And as to confidence in God, know that it is as easy to Him to conquer many enemies as few; the old and experienced as the weak and young.

Therefore we will suppose a soul to be heavy-laden with sins, to have every possible fault and every imaginable defect, and to have tried, by every possible means and every kind of Spiritual Exercise, to forsake sin and to practice holiness. We will suppose this soul to have done all this, and yet to have failed in making the smallest advance in holiness, nay, on the contrary, to have been borne the more strongly towards evil.

For all this she must not lose her trust in God, nor give over her spiritual conflict and lay down her arms, but still fight on resolutely, knowing that none is vanquished in this spiritual combat but he who ceases to struggle and loses confidence in God, whose succor never fails His soldiers, though He sometimes permits them to be wounded. Fight on, then, valiantly; for on this depends the whole issue of the strife; for there is a ready and effectual remedy for the wounds of all combatants who look confidently to God and to His aid for help; and when they least expect it they shall see their enemies dead at their feet.


What Scupoli’s Spiritual Combat is Really About

The book was a favorite of my patron, St. Francis de Sales, but I was especially drawn to it by the title. And I was eager to learn spiritual kung-fu to confound and defeat my enemies. But therein is the reason I was disappointed. The first chapter reveals the enemy that you will be fighting: yourself.


Lorenzo Scupoli Quotes

In both cases the authors are shrouded in mystery. Several 17th century editions were published under the name of the Spanish Benedictine, John of Castanzia. Some writers of the Society of Jesus have ascribed the book to the Jesuit, Achilles Gagliardi, but most critics however consider Fr. Lawrence Scupoli as the author of this famous treatise. The first known edition was published in Venice in and contained but 24 chapters; later editions appeared with more chapters, so it is possible that the Theatines or another religious order may have been part of the composition. Whatever may be the solution of the problem of the author, doubt of the actual one or ones, can take nothing away from the value and efficacy of this "golden book" as St.

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The Spiritual Combat


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