Examples and Effects of False Devotion

August 16, 2021 • 3 min

From The Spiritual Combat, page 8

But the case is far different with those who ignorantly place their devotion in exterior works, which frequently are the cause of their perdition, and of worse consequence than manifest crimes; not that they are in themselves pernicious, but only from a wrong application.—Their attachment to such works is so great, that they utterly neglect to watch the secret motions of their hearts, but giving them full scope, leave them exposed to their own corruption and the wiles of the Devil.

Then it is that this seducer seeing them go astray, not only encourages them to pursue their way, but fills their imagination with empty ideas, they already taste the joys of Paradise, the delights of Angels; they see God face to face! The Deceiver does not hesitate even to suggest in their mental prayer, sublime, surprising, and ravishing thoughts, that, forgetting the world and all earthly things, they are rapt to the third Heaven.


But a very little reflection on their conduct discovers their error, and the great distance between them and that perfection of which we are now in search.

For in every thing they are fond of preference before others: they know no guide but their own private judgment, no rule but their own will; and blind in their own affairs, ever quick sighted in those of their neighbours, ever ready to find fault. Touch but the empty reputation of sanctity they fancy themselves possessed of, and of which they are excessively jealous; order them but to discontinue any of the devotions to which they are habituated; their trouble and vexation is scarce to be expressed.


If God himself, in order to open their eyes and shew them the true path to perfection, should send them crosses, sickness, or severe persecutions, the surest trials of his servants fidelity, and which never happen but by his appointment and permission; then it is that the corruption of their hearts discovers itself through their excessive pride.


In all the incidents of this life, whether happy or otherwise, they are utter strangers to a due conformity to the will of God; they know not how to bend under his Almighty power, to submit to his judgments, no less equitable than secret and impenetrable; and, in imitation of Christ crucified, to humble themselves before all men; to love their enemies as the instruments employed by the divine goodness to train them to mortification, and co-operate, not only in their salvation hereafter, but also in their greater sanctification in this life.

It is to this that their imminent danger of being lost is owing. For contemplating with eyes dazzled by self-love, themselves and their actions, not otherwise blamable, they are puffed up with vanity, they conclude themselves far advanced towards God, and readily contemn their neighbour: nay, their pride often times will so far increase their blindness, that their conversion cannot be effected without a miracle of grace.

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