The Spiritual Combat


"One does not receive the crown unless one has fought according to the rules." (2 Tim 2.5)

To the Supreme Captain
and the Most Glorious Victor
Jesus Christ
Son of Mary

As your Majesty has always been pleased, and continues to be pleased, by the sacrifices and offerings we mortals offer to your glory from a pure heart, I present this little tract of The Spiritual Combat, dedicating it to your divine Majesty. Nor do I draw back because it is a small tract: indeed it is well-known that you alone are that high Lord who delights in humble things and despises the world's vanities and pretensions. And how without blame and condemnation could I dedicate it to another than your Majesty, King of heaven and earth? What this little tract teaches is all your doctrine, you yourself having taught us that, trusting no more in ourselves, we should trust in you, fight and pray.

Moreover, if every battle needs an expert leader to guide and inspire the troops -- as they fight more generously when they fight for an invincible captain -- does not this Spiritual Combat need one as well? So have we, who are already resolved to do battle and to conquer whatever enemy, have chosen you, Jesus Christ, for our Captain: you who have conquered the world, the prince of shadows, and with the wounds and death of your most holy flesh have won the flesh of all those who have fought and will fight generously.

Lord, when I put this Combat in order, I kept in mind the saying:We are unable even to think something on our own (2 Cor. 3.5). If without you and without your help we cannot entertain good thoughts, how can we fight against so many powerful enemies by ourselves, and avoid innumerable hidden ambushes?

Lord, in all respects this Combat is yours: because, as I have said, yours is the doctrine and yours are all the spiritual soldiers. Among these are we Theatine Clerics Regular. Bowed at the feet of your most hight Majesty, we therefore ask you to accept this Combat, ever moving and animating us with your present grace to fight more generously. We do not doubt at all that, if you fight in us, we will win, to your glory, and that of your most holy Mother, the Virgin Mary.

Your most humble servant with your Blood
Cleric Regular

Today you are about
to give battle to your enemies;
do not let your heart weaken;
do not be afraid, do not get discouraged,
and do not shrink before them,
because the Lord your God walks with you
to fight for you
against your enemies and to save you.

(Dt 20.3-4)

Preface · Table of Contents · First Chapter

Regular Theatine Clerics: Lorenzo Scupoli was a priest of the "Theatine Clerics Regular." The word "Theatine" comes from the Latin name of the Italian town with which their origin was associated; a "Cleric Regular" is a clergyman who lives according to a rule (Latin: regula). There are a number of orders with the title "Clerics Regular" but the Theatines were the first with that title (I believe; they use the initials CR after all). The Theatine Clerics Regular were a relatively new order at his time. Their aim was the internal reform of the Church, and they were highly relied on by the Vatican in the 16th and 17th centuries, especially for clerical and liturgical reforms. Contemporaries with the Jesuits, they were for a while called "the birthplace of bishops." Today their number and influence has dwindled somewhat. They operate one parish in the United States.