The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 4: How a man may know whether he is active in Self-Distrust and Trust in God
(text below) (click for full book)

Dom Lorenzo points out that there are many who think they have place their full confidence in the Lord, but have not.  He gives a very simple test: When you fall (in any way, poor moral choice, lack of love, giving in to any temptation), are you able to throw yourself into the mercy of God, or do you fall into a sort of self pity?  Do you make a confession to God based on your own feeling bad about yourself or simply because you have wounded your relationship with Him?

This is a very practical way to evaluate, after having had a fall, where my true confidence lies.  If I shrink in on myself, I have placed my confidence too much in myself.  If I throw myself to God, I am moving well along the path of trust in Him.

Chapter 4 text:

The presumptuous servant often supposes that he has acquired self-distrust and trust in God when the case is far otherwise.

And this will be made clear to thee by the effect produced on thy mind by a fall. If thou art so saddened and disquieted thereby as to be tempted to despair of making progress or doing good, it is a sure sign that thy trust is in self and not in God. For he who has any large measure of self-distrust and trust in God feels neither surprise, nor despondency, nor bitterness, when he falls; for he knows that this has arisen from his own weakness and want of trust in God. On the contrary, being, rendered thereby more distrustful of self, more humbly confident in God, detesting above all things his fault and the unruly passions which have occasioned it, and mourning with a quiet, deep, and patient sorrow over his offense against God, he pursues his enterprise, and follows after his enemies, even to the death, with a spirit more resolute and undaunted than before.

I would that these things were well considered by certain persons so called spiritual, who cannot and will not be at rest when they have fallen into any fault. They rush to their spiritual father, rather to get rid of the anxiety and uneasiness which spring from wounded self-love than for that purpose which should be their chief end in seeking him, to purify themselves from the stain of sin, and to fortify themselves against its power by means of the most Holy Sacrament of Penance.


Chapter 5: Of the Error of Many, Who Mistake Pusillanimity for a Virtue