The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 17
Remember when you had homework in high school? There was this principle of studying that recommended doing the harder school work first, then doing the easier work. I don’t know if anyone ever followed it. That doesn’t mean it was a bad principle. Spiritual combat follows a similar principle. If we understand our soul as a garden, there are both flowers and weeds within. Chapter 17 of the Spiritual Combat points out that we need to get after the weeds, and in a particular order. Find the biggest weed, with the deepest roots, and attack it. Pulling the little weeds is good, but they aren’t the ones causing the most damage to your garden.
Leaving the image of the weed and turning to the fact of the vice in your soul, be prepared to have any number of other, smaller enemies plunge at you as you attack your principle enemy. Our teacher in the Combat is wise in battle, and so directs us to turn to these smaller enemies and deal them blows, never forgetting that we must then turn back to the principle battle which is being waged. Maybe it will be the case that by attacking our principle vice, the other vices will be swallowed up in the process.
What is the most difficult ‘homework’, or should we say ‘soulwork’, that needs to be addressed in your life? Stop working around it. Stop avoiding it. Stop pretending it’s not there. By these acts of neglect it grows daily. Grab your tools, your weapons, trusting in the leadership of the Divine Gardener (John 15), our Father in Heaven, and go to work.
The Spiritual Combat text: here.
Chapter 18: Of the way to resist sudden impulses of the Passions