The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 5: Of the Error of Many, Who Mistake Pusillanimity for a Virtue
(text below) (click for full book)

This chapter could also be titled: Experience after a fall (sin, failure, action of lack.)  When I have a fall, does my attention move to how bad I feel that I did such a thing, or does my attention move to how bad I feel that I have wounded my relationship with God?  The sorrow that many feel is a sorrow of wounded pride.  That experience needs to be presented to God, following the twofold step given us by Dom Lorenzo: acknowledge my inability, put my trust in God.  This model of conscious renunciation of myself and conscious entrusting to God is so important to spiritual growth.

The grief I experience after a fall should be rooted in my sadness of wounding my relationship with God.  It should not, however, lead to self-pity and astonishment that I had a fall.  I should conclude quickly that the reason I fell is because I am weak, and I should quickly go to God.  I declare my dependence, my inability, my weakness, my poverty, to God.  He then takes care of me.

Chapter 5 text:

Many also deceive themselves in this way, they mistake the fear and uneasiness which follow after sin for virtuous emotions; and know not that these painful feelings spring from wounded pride, and a presumption which rests upon confidence in themselves and their own strength. They have accounted themselves to be something, and relied unduly upon their own powers. Their fall proves to them the vanity of this self-dependence, and they are immediately troubled and astonished as at some strange thing, and are disheartened at seeing the prop to which they trusted suddenly give way.

This can never befall the humble man, who trusts in his God alone, and in nothing presumes upon himself. Though grieved when he falls into a fault, he is neither surprised nor disquieted; for he knows that his own misery and weakness, already clearly manifest to himself by the light of truth, have brought all this upon him.


Chapter 6: Further directions how to attain Self-Distrust and Trust in God