The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 21: Capturing a Noble Spoil – or – Moving from the Creature to the Creator
We love to indulge in sensible delights. This chapter assists in purifying our indulgence. In fact, our master teaches us never to indulge in anything for the sake of pleasure alone. Ouch. Hedonistic America won’t hear of it.
There is a massive difference between 1) indulging in created goods for pleasure alone and 2) directing all of our pleasures to the contemplation of God, A massive difference, with a massively different outcome. One leads to bondage; the other to freedom.
The appetite in man (that interior craving for bodily or created pleasures) will always move toward the passing satisfaction of temporary satiety. It is our job to train this appetite, to master our bodies, to make our appetite work at the service of the Divine. So, we are to stop letting our senses stray freely, seeking for pleasure alone. Our intellect must direct our senses so that they look for what is useful, or what is necessary, or what has a true good as its end.
Senses will seek for pleasure alone.
The intellect must direct the senses to go for:
1) something useful.
2) something necessary.
3) something with a true good as its goal.
The first movement is to recognize the Creator who has established all of these created realities, which would be a movement towards thanks and praise.
But our master takes us further. He invites us not only to acknowledge the Creator as we enjoy the creature, but to pass from the enjoyment of the creature to the thought of how much more enjoyable is the source who created this creaturely pleasure.
Regulate the senses,
so that they may gather a noble spoil from each passing object,
and bring it home to the soul,
that she may rise with a steadier flight towards heaven
to the contemplation of God.
For those who enjoy nature, how much more wonderful is the LIFE who has brought this life to be.
For those who love animals, how much more wonderful is the FIRST MOVER who moves all things.
For those whose eyes rush to beauty, how much more beautiful is the FOUNTAIN from which these drops of beauty come.
For those who see virtue and goodness in others, how much more virtuous and good is the DIVINE TREASURE-HOUSE.
And when a person goes to do any action, to reflect first that God has brought me to this moment and He is making use of me.
When a meal is delightful, how much more delightful is the One who brings true contentment to the soul.
When a sweet smell is noticed, remember that all sweetness flows from God.
When a beautiful harmony of music comes to the ear, think about how much more harmonious will be the choirs of angels in Heaven.
The Spiritual Combat text: here.
Chapter 22: Moving from Created Things to Meditation on the Incarnate Word