The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 29:

The art and deceptions by which the demon keeps bound those who,
aware of their wickedness, would like to free themselves.
Why our resolutions often have no effect.

Those who are already aware of the corrupt life that they lead, and who would like to change it, are usually deceived and conquered once the demon employs the following weapons: later, later; tomorrow, tomorrow as the crow cries. "I want first to resolve this matter and free myself from this foolishness; then I can dedicate myself with greater calm to the spiritual life."

This snare has taken in many; even now, it takes in more. Its cause is our negligence and our ineptitude. In an matter that regards the salvation of the soul and the honor of God, we should readily take up that very powerful weapon: now, now! And why later? Today, today! And why tomorrow, saying to oneself: "But when will later and tomorrow be granted me? How can this be the road to salvation and victory: first to desire wounding and the provocation of new disorders?"

Beloved daughter: you must see that, if you are to fly this deception as well as that of the previous chapter, and if you are to defeat the enemy, you must give prompt obedience to divine thoughts and inspirations. I speak of promptness and not of resolution, since this often comes weakly, and for various reasons many of our resolutions remain deceived.

The first reason, which I also noted above, is that our resolutions do not have as their foundation distrust of self and confidence in God. This also prevents us from seeing our great pride, from which the deception and blindness proceed.
    Both the light to recognize them and the help to remedy them come from God's goodness, which first allows us to fall, then calls us while we are falling to pass from confidence in ourselves to confidence in him alone, and from our pride to self-awareness.
    Therefore, if you want your resolutions to have an effect, they must be strong; for this reason they can possess no share of confidence in self; their foundation must be confidence in God.

Another reason is that when we prepare to formulate our resolutions, we marvel at the beauty and the valor of virtue. Although it be sluggish and weak, our will pulls this good things to itself; once it finds the difficulty indispensable for the acquisition of virtue looming before it, however, our will - being sluggish and inexperienced - falls short and draws back.
    You must accustom yourself to fall in love more with the difficulties required for the acquisition of virtue than with the virtues themselves. If you truly wish to possess the virtues, your will must nourish itself on these difficulties, now a little, now a lot. You must understand that the more you embrace these difficulties and consider them dear, you will conquer yourself and your enemies more quickly and more completely.

The third reason is that sometimes our resolutions tend neither towards virtue nor towards the divine will, but towards self-interest. This occurs with those resolutions that one typically makes during spiritual delight, and with those made during tribulations that oppress us greatly; because we find no other relief, we tell ourselves that we want to give ourselves completely to God and to virtuous exercise.
    To avoid falling into this trap, remain very cautious and humble during times of spiritual delight, particularly in your promises and vows. When you find yourself in tribulation, your resolutions must be focused on enduring the cross patiently according to God's will, and on exalting the cross, refusing every relief, whether from earth or from heaven. Your prayer and your desire should be one alone: that God help you endure everything averse to your will, without staining the virtue of patience and without disgusting your Lord.

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as the crow cries: in the original text, Scupoli uses the Latin word cras, which sounds a little like the crow's caw.