The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 30:

The deception of those who fancy that they walk the path of perfection.

Though we may have overcome the enemy in the first and second assault and in the deception of which I spoke above, the evil one has recourse to a third. This consists in allowing us to forget those enemies that currently do battle against us and harm us, so that we occupy ourselves in desires and resolutions of a high level of perfection. The result is that we are constantly wounded, and do not tend our wounds. Esteeming such resolutions as though they were already fact, we grow prideful in a different way. Unwilling to endure a trifle or a tiny word to the contrary, we meditate a long time on our resolutions of suffering great punishments for the love of God, even the punishments of purgatory. Since our lower nature does not feel repugnance to this, as if it were a distant thing, as sorrowful creatures we convince ourselves that we have attained the level of those who patiently suffer great things.

In order to escape this deception, you must place before yourself those nearby enemies that truly make war on you, and you must fight them. This way, you will see clearly whether your propositions are true or false, strong or weak. You will walk towards virtue and perfection along that royal road well-trod by others. But against those enemies by whom you are not usually tormented, I do not advise you to take up battle. The exception is if you do foresee that they could attack you at any moment. To remain prepared and strong, you will find it useful to make resolutions.

That said, never judge your resolutions by the results you have already accomplished, even if you have for some time exercised yourself in virtue using the appropriate methods. In all these things remain humble, fear yourself and your weakness and, confiding in God, fly with frequent prayers to him, asking him to strengthen you and guard you from dangers, and in particular  from even the smallest presumption and self-confidence.

Even if it be impossible to overcome certain small defects that the Lord leaves to make us know ourselves humbly and to watch out for a certain benefit, we are nonetheless permitted to resolve to reach a higher level of perfection.

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