The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 8:

The reasons we do not discern things rightly.
The method one should use to know them well.

The reason we do not discern all the above-said things rightly, as well as many others besides, is that we attach either love or hatred of them at first sight. Obscured by these emotions, the intellect does not judge them rightly for what they are.

To prevent this deception from finding its home in you, be as conscious as possible of always keeping your will pure and free from from disordered affection to whatever thing. And when some object is placed before you, from the beginning observe it well with your intellect and consider it maturely. Do this before you are moved to desire it from love, if it brings you delight, or to reject it from hatred, if it involves something contrary to our natural inclinations. In this way the intellect, unencumbered by passion, will be free and clear; it will be able to understand the truth and penetrate into the evil which is hidden beneath false pleasure, and to the good which is well-covered by the appearance of harm.

But if the will has first inclined itself to love the thing, or to abhor it, the intellect cannot know it well, because the affection which has put itself in the way confuses the intellect so that it values the thing differently from what it is. Thus presenting anew to the will differently from what it is, the latter moves itself to love or hate it more ardently than before, against ever order and law of reason. From such affection the intellect comes to be even more obscured and, again it makes the will believe the thing more lovable or hateable than ever. Thus, if one does not observe this rule I have said (which is of the highest importance in this entire exercise), these two very noble and excellent powers, the intellect and the will, come miserably to walking ever from shadows into deeper shadows and from errors into greater errors, as in a vortex.

Therefore, daughter, watch yourself with every vigilance from every affection not well-ordered, be it to anything whatever, which you have not with your intellect examined well and recognized for what it truly is. You should principally rely on the vigilance of grace and of prayer, and the vigilance of your spiritual father. By this I mean to say that you should be observant, sometimes more than in other things, when doing external works that are good and holy. For in these, to be such, we run more risk of the danger of deception and indiscretion. From these, for some circumstance of time, of place, and of measure, or in respect to obedience, you could bring on yourself no small condemnation. As is known, this has happened to many who in their praiseworthy and most holy exercises have run into dangers.

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