THE DEVIL’S DEVICES IV of VI – “I JUST WANNA…” – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 30

INTRO

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

TOPIC AT HAND

We now turn to our third category: delusion.  You have left ‘deep bondage’ and have begun to live in the light of the Gospel.  You have left ‘sloth’ and grace has brought you the necessary helps to move forward in discipleship.  Now what?

Our teacher gives us very good helps for identifying and living in the reality of things.

Some examples of what people say in this area:
“I just want to be a Saint and be really holy.”
“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all.”
“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual.”
“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic.”

Or something like that in other words, or even without words, with presumptuous actions and decisions.

Many people become spiritually delusional.

Massive distinction to help in this stage of the Christian life: 1) where do I want to be (a saint, really holy, perfect in every way, at peace with all people) and 2) where am I currently (imperfect in many ways).

We must have a goal, but we cannot pretend that we can live in that goal prematurely.

REALITY CHECK

For any of the statements above that began with ‘just’ (I just wanna…), there is no ‘just’.  There is no escaping the actual realities of our lives.  If we want to ‘just’ be any of the above, we have to actually engage in the exact activities, difficulties, and seemingly-in-the-way barriers that are right in front of us.

“I want to be a Saint and be really holy but I have friends that keep tempting me.”  Guess what? Dealing with those relationships well is exactly how you will be come a Saint and be really holy.

“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all, but there are difficult people and things don’t always go my way.”  Guess what? How are you supposed to learn to love perfectly if you don’t get to practice on difficult people?  And how are you supposed to grow if no troubles come your way?  Who learns without studying?  Who gets better without practice?  Who gets in shape without exercise?

“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual but I get distracted by all of the world’s stuff.”  Guest what?  “Who can love the God they do not see if they do not love the person they can see?” – St. John.  To grow in spirituality is never disconnected from growth in love of neighbor.

“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic but prayer doesn’t seem to go that way.”  Guess what?  The mystics didn’t just sit around and become mystics.  They had to travel through difficulties, dryness, distraction, times of great weakness and pain.

Moral of the story: To attain the goal means to travel the real road that arrives there.  We aren’t there, but we are headed there.  “Pick up your cross and follow ME.” – Jesus.

————————–

Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 30 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 31: The Devil’s Devices V of VI

————————–

all of chapter 30:

Our malignant foe, thus repulsed in his first and second assault and stratagem, has recourse to a third, which is, to turn away our attention from the enemies who are close at hand to injure and assail us, and to fill us with resolutions and desires after higher degrees of perfection.

Hence we are continually being wounded; yet we pay no attention to our wounds, and looking upon these resolutions as already fulfilled, we take pride in them in various ways.

And while we cannot endure the least thing or the slightest word which crosses our will, we were our time in long meditations and resolutions to endure the acutest sufferings on earth or in purgatory for the love of God.

And because our inferior part feels no repugnance at these things in the distance, we flatter ourselves, miserable creatures as we are, into the conceit that we belong to the class of patient and heroic sufferers.

To avoid this snare, resolve to fight manfully against the enemies who are close at hand, and actually waging war against you. You will thus discover whether your resolutions are real or imaginary, weak or strong; and so you will go on to virtue and perfection by the beaten and royal road.

But against enemies who are not wont to trouble you I do not advise you to take up arms, unless there appear a probability of their making an attack at some future time. In this case it is lawful to make resolutions beforehand, that you may be found strong and prepared.

Do not, however, judge of your resolutions by their effects, even though you should have long and faithfully exercised yourself in virtue; but be very humble with regard to them; fear yourself and your own weakness, and trust in God, and seek His help by frequent prayer to strengthen and preserve you in all dangers, and especially from the very slightest presumption or self-confidence.

For in this case, though we may not be able to overcome some slight defects which our Lord sometimes leaves in us in order to greater, humility and self-knowledge, and for the protection of some virtue, we may yet be permitted to form purposes of aspiring to higher degrees of perfection.

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES III of VI – MAYBE I CAN DO THIS – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 29

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

The danger of self reliance is in full force in man.  Have you ever been in a situation where you realized, maybe by a light bulb suddenly turned on, “Ahh, I figured this out.  I know what I must do”?  Already we are in danger.

In this chapter, our master Don Scupoli describes the seeming victory, and the actual defeat.  We come to realize what must be done, and we dangerously decide how we will fix it.  NOTICE: is it YOU, or is it the LORD, who will fix this?  If it is something you will do, you have already lost.

Three points he makes for us to ponder.  1) is it a resolution, or is it a decision, that will govern our movement; 2) are you striving for a particular result, or are you engaging in the fight to gain the result; 3) are you looking to the result that you would desire, or are you looking to the will of God in this case?  The resolution gets us nowhere, but decision actually moves us.  Going for a result is according to your ideas, whereas engaging in the fight is the will of God.  Looking for your result is misguided, but looking to the will of God is the way.

In all of these, the dangerous snare is to lean on our own understanding and power.  This is always and everywhere a major mistake.  Think of it this way: Who is my Saviour? Myself? or God?  If I lean on my own understanding and power, then I am my own saviour.  Rather, I ought to look to the One who is able to do all things, God Who is powerful, steadfast, able, willing, and the rest.

————————–

Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 29 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 30: The Devil’s Devices IV of VI

————————–

all of chapter 29:

When a man begins to perceive the evil of his life, and to desire to change it, the devil often deludes and overcomes him by such means as these:

Presently, presently.

Cras, cras” (tomorrow, tomorrow) as the raven cries.

I wish first to consider and dispatch this business, this perplexity, that I may then be able to give myself with greater tranquillity to spiritual things.

This is a snare in which many men have been, and are still daily, entangled; and the cause of this is our own negligence and heedlessness, seeing that, in a matter touching the honor of God and the salvation of the soul, we neglect to seize instantly that effectual weapon: “Now, now;” wherefore “presently?” “Today, today;” wherefore “tomorrow?” saying each one to himself :

Even supposing this `presently’ and this `tomorrow’ should be granted to me, is it the way of safety and of victory to seek first to be wounded and to commit fresh disorders?

You see, then, that the way to escape this snare, and that mentioned in the preceding chapter, and to subdue the enemy, is, to yield prompt obedience to all heavenly thoughts and inspirations.

Prompt obedience, I say, and not mere resolutions; for these are often fallacious, and many have been deceived thereby from various causes.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)First. Because our resolutions are not founded upon self-distrust and trust in God. But our excessive pride, whence proceeds this blindness and delusion, prevents our perceiving it.

The light to see and the medicine to cure it both proceed from the goodness of God Who suffers us to fall that He may recall us thereby from self-confidence to confidence in Him alone, and from pride to self-knowledge.

Your resolutions, therefore, to be effectual, must be steadfast; and to be steadfast, they must be free from all self-confidence, and humbly based on confidence in God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Second. When we are making our resolutions, we dwell on the beauty and excellence of virtue, which attracts our will, slack and feeble as it is; but when confronted by the difficulties which attend the attainment of virtue, the weak and untried will fail and draw back.

Learn, therefore, to love the difficulties which attend the attainment of all virtues more than even the virtues themselves, and use these difficulties in various measures to strengthen your will, if you desire in good earnest to acquire these virtues.

And know, that the more courageously and lovingly you shall embrace these difficulties, the more speedy and complete shall be your victory over self and all your other enemies.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Third. In our resolutions we too often look rather to our own advantage than to the will of God and the acquisition of the virtues He requires of us. This is frequently the case with resolutions made in times of great spiritual joy or acute sorrow, when we seem unable to find any relief but in a resolution to give ourselves wholly to God and to the practice of virtue.

To avoid this snare, take care in times of spiritual consolation to be very cautious and humble in your resolutions, especially in your vows and promises; and in tribulation let your resolution be to bear your cross patiently, according to the will of God, nay, to exalt it, refusing all earthly, and if so be even all heavenly consolation. Let your one desire, your one prayer, be that God would help you to bear all adverse things, keeping the virtue of patience unstained, and giving no displeasure to your Lord.

Humbly, acknowledge that you are weak and feeble.  God alone is able.  Cry out with the psalmist: “Where shall my help come from?  MY HELP COMES FROM YOU, MAKER OF HEAVEN.” (Psalm 121).

God alone.

God is able.

God, Help.

No Longer Slaves

In the book of Exodus, the Israelites encounter the miraculous parting of the Red Sea to bring them to ultimate freedom from the 400+ years of slavery they endured at the hands of the Egyptians. They were saved through water. This story prefigures our baptism, where we too are saved through water. The magnificence and drama of this story are so helpful for us because it is an even greater drama when we are baptized. But the visual effects don’t have the same theatrical, stunning quality, so we might miss it. But it is true! Our enslavement to sin is worse than the Israelites’ 430 years under the cruelty of Pharaoh.
God even allowed the ferocious army to come after the Israelites as they made their escape, so they could look their death in the face, and know without a doubt how the Mighty God had saved them. They seemed completely fenced in with death on all sides. Drown or be slaughtered. But Moses looks at them, directs them to look at the advancing army, and says,
Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. – Exodus 14:13
We are faced with the same as we approach the font of baptism. The armies of the Evil One press in on all sides and we are enslaved to sin and death. He is behind us and the waters of the font are before us. We must enter in to see the salvation of the Lord. But as we enter, we can hear the loving voice of the Father say, “This sin that weighs upon you, the wages of which is death, you shall never see again!”
Listen to this awesome song by Bethel Music and revel in the fact that you are called to be a child of God. This awesome and mighty God has split the sea so you could walk right through it, drowning all your fears in perfect love. He has rescued you!
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑