The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 16:

How the soldier of Christ
ought to approach the battlefield
at a good hour of the morning

The moment you awaken, your first act should be to fix the interior eye on how you are enclosed within a wooden fence.  There is one law: The one who will not fight, dies an eternal death.

Within this fence, you should picture the Enemy and your wicked inclination on the side opposite you. You have already settled on crushing them; they are likewise armed to injure you, to deliver death to you. On the right side is your victorious Captain, Christ Jesus, with his most holy mother, the Virgin Mary, along with her most beloved spouse, Joseph. Accompanying them are many squadrons of angels and saints, in particular Saint Michael. On the left side, you should picture the hellish demon with his own angels, determined to excite your aforesaid passion; he is encouraging you to give in to it.

Perhaps you make out a voice within the fence, that of your guardian angel, say. It informs you:
Today you must fight against this enemy and others. Do not let yourself grow faint, do not lose heart; do not give in because of fear or any other consideration, for our Lord and your Captain is here beside you with all these glorious squadrons. He will fight against all your enemies, and will never allow them to prevail by force or ability (see Deuteronomy 20.3-4). Stay strong, do violence to yourself and bear the suffering it shall give you. Cry out frequently from the inner chamber of your heart, and call upon your Lord, the Virgin Mary and all the saints; beyond a doubt you will come away victorious. It is true that you are weak; you are hampered by your bad habits; and your enemies are many and powerful.
    But your creator and redeemer has many ways to assist you. In addition, your God is powerful beyond all comparison, and his desire to save you is greater than the enemy's desire to see you lost.
    Fight, therefore, and your sufferings will not increase, for victory is born from exhaustion, from violence against your wicked inclinations, and from the sorrow that you feel for your bad habits; and along with victory, the great treasure with which the kingdom of heaven is purchased, and the soul is eternally united with God.

You should begin to fight in the name of the Lord. Use the weapons of distrust in yourself and confidence in God; rely on prayer and the spiritual exercise, calling to battle your enemy and your inclination that, according to the aforesaid order, you have resolved to conquer, now through resistance, now through hatred, and now through contrary acts of virtue. Repeatedly deal them mortal wounds in order to please your Lord, who with the entire Church Triumphant observe your struggle. Again I urge you not to shrink from the fight. Consider the obligation each of us has to serve God and to please him, and the necessity of fighting, the inability to flee this battle without wounds, indeed without dying. I also tell you this: should you desire the rebel's course of flying from God and giving yourself to the world and the delights of the flesh, in spite of this you will have to struggle against many, many obstacles. Your face will sweat profusely and mortal anguish will pierce your heart.

Consider now how insane it is to undergo such great exhaustion and suffering in order to win endless death, just so one can escape the exhaustion and suffering which not only end sooner, but unite us to the eternal, infinitely blessed life where we will enjoy our God forever.

Previous Chapter · Table of Contents · Next Chapter

victory is born from exhaustion &c.: More modern phrasing: no pain, no gain.