Differences between false and true devotion

August 15, 2021 • 3 min

From The Spiritual Combat, page 5
By Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

If you seek, O Christian Soul, to attain to the highest pitch of Evangelical perfection, and unite yourself so closely with God as to become one Spirit with him; it is requisite in order to succeed in a design the most sublime that can be expressed or imagined, that you be first acquainted with the true nature and perfection of Spirituality.

Some, who only judge by appearances, make it consist in penitential works, in hair shirts, chastisements, watching, fasting, and such like corporal mortifications.

Many, especially women, fancy themselves consummately virtuous, when habituated to long vocal prayers, hearing several masses, assisting at the whole divine office, spending many hours in the church, and frequent communion.

Others, not excepting some of those who have consecrated themselves to God in a religious life, think that perfection consists in being assiduous in the choir, in affecting silence and retirement, and a strict observance of their rule.

Thus different people place perfection in different practices; but certain it is they all equally deceive themselves. For, as exterior works are no more than either dispositions for becoming truly pious, or the effects of real piety, it cannot be said that Christian perfection, and true piety, consist in them.

Doubtless they are powerful means for becoming truly perfect, and truly pious, and when employed with discretion, are of singular efficacy for supporting our nature, ever averse to good, and prone to evil; for repelling the attacks, and escaping the snares of our common enemy; for obtaining from the Father of Mercies, those succours so necessary for the righteous, especially beginners.

They are besides, in persons truly pious, excellent fruits of consummate virtue.

For such chastise their bodies either in punishment of past offences, or for greater humiliation and subjection to their Creator.

They seek solitude and observe silence; that retired from the World, they may preserve themselves clear from the least stain of sin, and converse only with Heaven and its Angels.

Their time is spent in works of piety and the service of God; they pray, and meditate on the life and passion of our Redeemer, not through curiosity, or for the sake of some sensible pleasure arising from thence, but through a desire of knowing better on one side the immensity of the Divine Goodness, and on the other, the excess of their own ingratitude, in order to augment their love of God, and the detestation of themselves, to follow their Lord in taking up his Cross, and renouncing their own will; frequenting the sacraments with no other view than the honour of God, and their own stricter union with him, and greater security from the power of the Devil.

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