We must keep peace of soul admist spiritual battles

August 9, 2021 • 6 min

From The Spiritual Combat, page 98

CHAPTER XXV.

That the Soldier of Jesus Christ, who has resolved to engage and conquer his Enemies, must avoid, as far as possible, whatever may disturb his peace of mind.

Whenever we have lost our peace of mind, omit nothing that can contribute to the recovery of it; though let what will happen, we can never lose it, nor have it disturbed but through onr own fault. It is true, we are to be sorry for our sins, but this sorrow ought to be calm and moderate, as I have often said. We ought to compassionate all sinners, and interiorly lament their destruction; but still this compassion must be void of all vexation and trouble, as it springs from a motive of pure charity.

Even that infinity of evils, to which this life is subject, as sickness, wounds, death, the loss of friends and kindred, plagues, war, and fire, and the like, which men dread as contrary to their nature, ever averse to suffering; all these, I say, by the assistance of the Divine grace, may not only be received with submission from the hand of God, but even become subjects of joy, if we consider them as wholesome punishments inflicted on sinners, or opportunities given the just of laying up a treasure of merits.

For on both these considerations the Almighty delights in afflicting us; but this is certain, that as long as our minds are resigned to his will, the severest trials can never disturb our peace. Besides, all vexation is highly displeasing to him; because whatever nature it is of, it is always sinful, as arising from a bad principle, the love of ourselves. Endeavour, therefore, to foresee any uneasiness that may happen, and provide with patience for its reception. Consider that the evils of this life, how frightful soever they may appear, are only imaginary, as they cannot deprive us of real good; that God ordains or permits them for the reasons alleged as above, or for others, which, though hidden from us, are truly equitable.

Thus preserving an even mind in all occurrences of life, your advantages will be very great, but without it your pious exercises will come to nothing: not to mention how much you will be exposed by anxiety to the insults of your enemy, without being able to discern the sure and ready path to virtue; the Devil is ever solicitous to banish peace from your miad, knowing well that God only dwells there in peace, and that it is in peace that he works his wonders. Hence it is that Satan employs all his cunning: for destroying it; even in order to surprise us, he does not hesitate to inspire seemingly good designs, but which are otherwise in effect, as is easily discovered, but particularly by their disturbing our inward peace.

To remedy so dangerous an evil, when the enemy endeavours to put us upon some new design, let us beware of giving it entrance too hastily into our hearts: First, let us renounce all affection arising from self-love, then offer the design to God, begging with great earnestness, that he will manifest to us whether it comes from him or our enemy, and, in order to it, our director ought to be consulted. Even when we are assured that such a design is the motion of the Holy Ghost, we ought to defer the execution of it till we have mortified our too great eagerness in executing it. For a good work, preceded by such a mortification, is much more pleasing to God, than when accompanied with too solicitous an ardour; and oftentimes the merit of the work, falls short of that of the mortification. Thus rejecting all pernicious motions, and not executing even the good ones till we have suppressed the effects of self-love, we shall preserve a perfect tranquillity of mind.

It is moreover requisite to contemn a certain interior regret, which, though seemingly coming from God, as being a remorse of conscience for past faults, yet is doubtless the work of the Devil, as the following test will clearly discover.

If the regret tends to our greater humiliation, if it increases our fervour in performing good works and our confidence in the Divine mercy, we ought to receive it with great thankfulness as a gift from Heaven.

But if it occasions anxiety—if it renders us dispirited, slothful, timorous and backward in our duty, we may certainly conclude that it proceeds from the suggestions of the enemy, and ought to pass it over without the least regard.

Besides this, as it frequently happens that our vexations arise from the evils of this life, there are two things to be done as preservatives against it.

The first is, to consider what will be the consequence of such evils, whether they will destroy in us the desire of attaining perfection, or self-love; if they only tend to diminish self-love, one of our greatest enemies, we ought not to complain; rather let us receive them with joy and thanksgiving, as so many favours which God bestows upon us. But if they incline us to swerve from the path of perfection, and make virtue distasteful, we must not be cast down and lose our tranquillity of mind as we shall see hereafter.

The second is, to raise our hearts to God, and receive without exception whatever he ordains, fully persuaded that every cross he is pleased to inflict, will certainly prove an endless source of blessings, if we, for want of knowing better, do not neglect to improve it to the best advantage.

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