Finish the Phrase: If You Can’t Say Something Nice… – The Spiritual Combat, 24.

The Spiritual Combat

Posted by: EvangelicalDisciple

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 24: Of the Way to Rule the Tongue (text at bottom)

…Then don’t say anything at all.

Our teacher is telling us to be quiet.  The counsel flies in the face of our tendencies today, but let’s hear him out.  If the goal is discourse with God and holiness, let’s see which serves these goals.
Talking or Praying: Talking to another may lead me to my goal, or it may lead me away from my goal.  Praying leads me to my goal.
Talking: It may lead to gossip, slander, immorality, idleness, laziness, avoidance of actual duty, self-indulgence, self-praise, prideful speech, foulness, speaking in vain against God.  If all of that is avoided, talking is good.
Praying and recollected meditation: it leads to discourse with God and holiness.

Our teacher is not against talking, he is against over-talking or mis-talking.  Or, to put it another way: he is for the use of the mouth as God has given it to be used.

Overuse of anything can destroy it (listen to a song over and over and you will become disgusted with it).  Misuse of anything can destroy it (put a plastic container in the oven at 400 for a little while and you will see).  When we overuse or misuse our mouths, we may destroy our interior life with God. 

The mouth is for communication; to let what is in the heart or mind out to be shared with another.  If we use our mouths purely, we will deepen communion with others.

But even that is not enough for our teacher.  He wants our minds and hearts to be always lifted to God.  And so it is not enough that my mouth be used purely.  It actually needs to be closed sometimes, even oftentimes, so that the mind and heart can be lifted to God.  So he pushes us forward into the practice of silence.  And when we do speak, let us speak of the glory of God!


PRACTICAL IDEAS – plan them and keep them:
one hour a day in blocked off silence. (also known as holy hour)
one morning a week in blocked off silence.
one day a month in blocked off silence. (also known as desert day)
one week a year in blocked off silence. (also known as retreat)

– – – – –

Chapter 24 text:

It is very necessary that the tongue be well bridled and regulated because we are all much inclined to let it run on upon those things which are most pleasing to the senses.

Much speaking springs ordinarily from pride. We persuade ourselves that we know a great deal; we take delight in our own conceits, and endeavor by needless repetitions to impress them on the minds of others, that we may exercise a mastery over them, as though they needed instruction from us.

It is not possible to express in few words the many evils which arise from overmuch speaking.

Talkativeness is the mother of sloth, the sign of ignorance and folly, the door of slander the minister of falsehood, the destroyer of fervent devotion. A multitude of words adds strength to evil passions, by which again the tongue is the more easily led on to indiscreet talking.

Do not indulge in long conversations with those who are unwilling to hear you lest you weary them; nor with those who love to listen to you, lest you exceed the bounds of modesty.

Avoid loud and positive speaking, which is not only odious in itself, but is also a sign of presumption and vanity.

Never speak of thyself or thy doings, nor of thy kindred, except in case of absolute necessity, and then with all possible brevity and reserve. If others seem to speak overmuch of themselves, try to put a favorable construction upon their conduct; but do not imitate it, even though their words seem to tend to self-humiliation and self-accusation.

Speak as little as may be of your neighbor, or of anything concerning him, unless an occasion offers to say something in his praise.

Speak willingly of God, and especially of His love and goodness; but with fear and caution, lest even here you fall into error: rather take pleasure in listening while others speak of Him, treasuring up their words in the depth of your heart.

Let the sound of men’s voices strike only upon your ear; do you meanwhile lift up your heart to God; and if you must needs listen to their discourse in order to understand and reply to it, yet neglect not to cast your eye in thought to heaven, where God dwelleth, and contemplate His loftiness, as He ever beholds your vileness.

Consider well the things which your heart suggests to you before they pass on to your tongue; for you will perceive that many of them would be better suppressed. Nay, I can still farther assure you, that not a few even of those which you will then think it expedient to speak would be far better buried in silence; and so you will perceive, upon reflection, when the opportunity for speaking is past.

Silence is a strong fortress in the spiritual combat, and a sure pledge of victory.

Silence is the friend of him who distrusts himself and trusts in God; it is the guard of holy prayer, and a wonderful aid in the practice of virtue.

In order to acquire the practice of silence, consider frequently the great benefits which arise therefrom, and the evils and dangers of talkativeness. Love this virtue; and in order to acquire the habit of it, keep silence occasionally, even at times when you might lawfully speak, provided this be not to your own prejudice, or to that of others.

And you will be greatly helped to this by withdrawing from the society of men; for in the place of this, you will have the society of angels, saints, and of God Himself.

Lastly, remember the combat which you have in hand, that, seeing you have so much to do, you may the more willingly refrain from all superfluous words.


The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 25: To have victory, one needs interior tranquility

Supernaturalizing the Natural – The Spiritual Combat, 23.

The Spiritual Combat

Posted By: EvangelicalDisciple

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 23: Other Ways to Regulate Our Senses

Sooo good, and sooo practical.

When you see something beautiful, realize that it is ugly compared to the beauty found in Heaven.

When you see the sun, recognize that your soul is more brilliant if it is in God’s grace; if it is not, it is darker than the darkest night.

When you hear the singing of birds, or any other beautiful song, rest assured that the ALLELUIA of the angels will be all the more euphoric.

When you take a step, remember that you are one step closer to your own end.

Anything that you read or hear, let it be the Lord Himself Who speaks to you.

Know that the Saints are examples of the champions.

When you see a church, know that you are a temple of the living God.


The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 24: Of the Way to Rule the Tongue

Practical Ways to Meditate on the Life of Jesus – The Spiritual Combat, 22.

The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 22: Practical Ways to Meditate on the Life of Jesus

Great counsel on how to think about Jesus each day.  In anything that I see, let it remind me of an aspect of the life of Jesus.
Some have called it “supernaturalizing the natural.” Others might think of it as a holy game, an exercise of the mind, to relate my experience to the life of Our Lord.  Whatever one calls it, it is a good idea.

But first, one must come to intimately know the life of Our Lord.  How can I relate my life to the life of Jesus if I don’t know His life?  So I must come to know His life.  In particular, his Passion for my freedom.

Examples from the text:

When I see a run down building, remember the stable and manger Jesus was born in.

When I see drops of rain, remember the drops of Blood He lost in the Garden.

When I see rocks, remember the rocks rent asunder at His death.

When dressing, I remember that God put on human flesh for me.

When undressing, I remember that Jesus was stripped for me.

All the objects of His Passion: weapons, cords, scourges, pillars, thorns, reeds, nails, hammers, all can be related to His Passion.

Supernaturalize the natural.

Relate your life to His.

Know His life.

The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 23: Other Ways to Regulate Our Senses

Capturing a Noble Spoil – The Spiritual Combat, 21.

The Spiritual Combat

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

How to Combat Sloth – The Spiritual Combat, 20.

The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 20: How to Combat Sloth

“I don’t care.” We don’t need to say it to live it.  In any area of my life where I live this ‘I don’t care-ness’, sloth has moved in.  And, as it is opposed to my walk with Jesus, it is very dangerous.  Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, mind, soul. Not part, and not simply when you feel like it.

Three main points of counsel to battle against sloth / laziness / apathy / “later” attitude:

1) Stay focused on what pertains to your life, to your good, to your perfection.

2) Obey God when He inspires you, in a timely way and in the way He wants. (this also includes obeying your legitimate superiors, be it a parent, a boss, a government)

3) Don’t delay.  “I’ll do it later” isn’t an option.  Grace is always in the present, and reward is also in the present.

A few more tips and warnings regarding sloth:

Sloth gives you a lazy heart and a cloudy mind.

We must do our work not just timely, but also with quality.

Haste is a subtle form of sloth. (I work quickly, and poorly, so I can then be idle and lazy.)

Recognize the value of your work, and you will do it well.  Value before God; value for sanctification.

All our work is preparing reward in Heaven.

the slothful are losing Heaven.

When things seem too much, or too hard, remember: one at a time.

If “pray always” seems too much, remember: pray now, and you will pray always.

Both in work and prayer, breaks are okay so as to refocus the effort, but don’t break too long.

Sloth will spread and attack all virtues.

Your life is preparation for a wedding feast; don’t forget what you are preparing for.

He who gives you the morning doesn’t promise you the evening.
He who promises you the evening doesn’t promise you the morrow.

He who gives you the morning doesn’t promise you the evening.
He who promises you the evening doesn’t promise you the morrow.

Spend each hour as if it might be your last.

A busy day is a lost day, if it does not increase your holiness or your thankfulness to God.

The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 21: Moving from Exterior Senses to the Contemplation of the Divine

Before, During, After: Temptations of the Flesh – The Spiritual Combat, 19.

The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 19: On the Way to Resist the Sins of the Flesh

The advice given here is different than for other temptations.  We are not to confront these temptations of the Flesh head-on, but our combat is by fleeing their occasion and going to Our Saviour.  Our technique in the past has been to grow in virtue, fighting the battle.  These temptations catch us differently, and so a different method is needed.

Our teacher gives three time periods: before temptation; during temptation; after temptation.

Before temptation we have 5 points: avoid the occasion, avoid idle behavior, obey your superiors, avoid judgment of others, never imagine you are immune to a fall.
During temptation we need to establish if the cause is external or internal, that is, does it come from the senses (external), or does it proceed from my wounded nature or from the suggestion of the devil (internal). If external, than we should be able to remove ourselves from the temptation or correct our behavior. If internal, we are in need of penance and prayer. Bodily penance is suggested, which flows from St. Paul’s advice of disciplining our bodies, so that they become subject to us. Prayer is recommended, not to pray against the things of temptation, but rather, turn to Jesus, stay with Jesus, allowing the meditation to send the temptations away.
After temptation: Never imagine that you will not be tempted again. Stay vigilant.

An additional point to be made here: Many people are confused as to the difference between temptation and sin. If we think that temptation is all those things that stay inside me but never are manifested outside of me, we are deceived. If we think that any thought that comes into my mind is a sin, we are deceived. The truth is this: a temptation is any suggestion that is presented to my intellect or will, either from within or from without. If I, having realized that this is being presented to me, send this away, the temptation never moved beyond temptation, and I have not sinned. On the other hand, as soon as I engage any temptation, either by fantasy in the mind, willing in the heart, or action outside my mind or will, the temptation has moved me to sin.
In short: Temptations are not sins. Engaging them, in the mind, heart, or in action outside the mind or heart, is sin.
An accurate understanding of this will assist in not thinking yourself defeated when you have not been defeated; it will also help you not think yourself safe when in fact you have passed into sinful ways.


The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 20: How to Combat Sloth

ATTRACTION AND REPULSION – The Spiritual Combat, 18.

The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 18

Either of these opposite movements of the heart can produce good or bad fruits.  Remember that there is but one goal: full union with God.  That being remembered, let’s mark out a few examples of attraction and repulsion.

Attraction and Bad Fruit:I start to follow a particular show, series, character, celebrity, or any other sort of fashionable reality.  My desire for it moves too far up on the hierarchy of importance (above my duties, my relationships, my prayer time).  This attraction has now shown to produce bad fruits for any number of reasons: too much time spent with it; too much love given to things not divine, nor human; too much thinking and wondering and wishing to be around this reality even more than I already have, which is too much.  This is a simple example of attraction and bad fruit.

Attraction and Good Fruit:
I heard a passage of Sacred Scripture that stuck out to me.  Instead of simply remembering that I enjoyed that Scripture when I heard it, my attraction leads me to find it in the Bible, and to read it again.  And then I read around it, and become interested in that chapter, and that book, of the Bible.  It leads me into a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Attraction and good fruit.

Repulsion and Bad Fruit:
One example in the text today from chapter 18 regards a person that I don’t like, a person who annoys me.  There are many things that are according to taste, and if my taste doesn’t appreciate it, I can leave it alone.  On the other hand, there are those things that, if I continue to disdain, or abhor, or consciously turn over in my head as annoying, will become particular areas of harming my own goal in life: union with God.  And this harm for two reasons: 1) my interior posture is to be, according to Scripture, at peace, without anxiety, resting in the consolation of God; 2) these things, or persons, are for me occasions for giving myself over to God in petition and prayer, so that I can learn to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow where my Saviour leads.

Repulsion and Good Fruit:
Very simply: avoid those things which are evil.  Hate the things God hates, and avoid them.  Namely: sin and occasions of sin.

In all things, we are to lift our eyes to Jesus.  In all trials, we are to move nearer His Cross.  In all temptations, we are to bow to His Father in trust.  In short, we are to live with Jesus His life.

O cross, formed by Divine providence before I was born;
O cross, endeared to me by the dear love of my crucified Lord,
nail me now to you,
that so I may give myself to Him
Who died on you for my redemption!

The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 19: Of the way to resist the sins of the Flesh


The Spiritual Combat

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.spiritualcombat17

The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 18: Of the way to resist sudden impulses of the Passions


The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 16

Our teacher in combat doesn’t miss to speak of what many great masters have understood as the most important moment of the day: waking up.
This moment has the power to dictate the rest of the day’s theme.
“Win your first battle, and the rest will be yours!” the saints have taught through the ages.
SO, when you rise, do not let your eyes deceive you; things are not as they seem.
Our exterior eyes see only the material world; our interior eyes are able to see the spiritual world.  Therefore, upon rising, make sure your interior eyes are opening along with your exterior eyes.
See your battle.
See your enemy.
See his army.
See also your Victorious Captain, our King and Saviour Jesus.
See his army; Mary, Joseph, the saints, the countless hosts of angels.
See how much more powerful and able is the army of your Lord and King.
See how much more interested in your deliverance is your Captain than the enemy.
See victory.

Instead of first reaching for the lamp to give light to the room, the glasses to give clarity to the things in light, the contact lens to focus the images around…
Instead of these, reach within to the interior eyes of the spiritual realm; reach for Jesus, reach for the saints, reach for the angels, reach for your instruments that give light, clarity and focus to the things of the spirit.

Upon Rising

The heroic minute.  Will I rise and enter the battle, or will i hit the snooze button.  Remember, this moment has the power to dictate the rest of the day’s theme.  Will it be victory or defeat?  Will it be of entering the battle, or of shrinking into an inevitable retreat and surrender to the enemy?

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes – Psalm 19:8.

The Spiritual Combat text: here.



Chapter 17: Of the order to be observed in the conflict with our Evil Passions

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