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Calling All Readers! Spiritual Combat Book Club Profile

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

spiritual combat

I’m the kind of person who loves to share what I’ve been reading. As a Catholic convert who is really excited about the Faith, much of my reading is “spiritual.”  But don’t think that deters me!  Whether the Bible, Catechism or Catholic classics, whatever the conversation, I can always find a segue into my latest book.

For example:

Friendly Acquaintance at a Mother’s Group: So are you keeping warm this week? I heard on the radio that we’ve been having the coldest temperatures on record!

Me: Actually, yes – I’ve been cozying up with the most amazing book – Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. It’s unbelievable! With every page, I realize more and more the meaning of that song, “He’s Got the Whole World, in His Hands.” He really does!! And no matter what happens, God’s Holy will has allowed it either through His active or passive will, and I can be joyful even if someone brutally attacks me! If that doesn’t keep you warm inside, I don’t know what would!

Often, these conversations end abruptly because “Friendly…” spots her sister’s babysitters’s mother’s best friend across the room, and she must say hello or risk being rude.

After several years of this kind of phenomenon – which as you can tell, allowed very little in actual two-way discussion – I started a Catholic book club. At least in this venue, I was able to meet with four or five friends once a month and discuss the latest book. Actually, we were often lucky if two of us showed up because we were all busy mothers with several children whose extracurricular activities came before book club.

Regardless, this venue was a great improvement over my last circumstance, because when we did show up, chances were good that three out of four of us had at least heard of the book. But there were still problems.  Book clubs are great, but often inconvenient in a “time-consuming” and “scheduling” sort of way.

This latest idea – an online spiritual reading book club where readers can step in or out depending on what life brings – solves the scheduling problems, while allowing us to interact and discuss all these amazing works!

Well now that you’ve learned a little about me (perhaps more than you wanted to know), here’s a brief profile of our first book:

Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli

Schedule: June 11 – July 27

The following paragraphs are copied from the back of my version (My copy is published by Sophia Press, but whatever version you have should be fine – this book has been published by several publishers):

There’s a battle raging for your soul: make sure now that you’re on the winning side!

It’s no longer fashionable to speak of the Christian life as a “battle,” but there’s actually no better way to describe the tug-of-war for your soul that’s raging right now between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

Here, Dom Lorenzo Scupoli helps you take your proper part in this spiritual battle so that you can win – decisively – the war for your soul.

Spiritual Combat was first published in a world externally much different from ours. But spiritual realities haven’t changed, and this book has been cherished for four centuries by saints and sinners alike (including St. Francis de Sales, who carried it in his pocket for eighteen years). Why? Because it gives sober and realistic guidance on how to overcome spiritual obstacles and achieve spiritual perfection and salvation.

Best of all, Spiritual Combat doesn’t just tell you what you ought to be doing in order to live a truly Christian life – it shows you how.  

These directions include:

  • Seven reflections to help you be sorry for sinning
  • Seven ways to think about death – they’ll help you live better today!
  • What to do when prayer is dry and burdensome – or simply impossible 
  • And much more to help you overcome the most formidable spiritual obstacles!

With guidance like this and much more, you’ll soon be winning all your spiritual battles – battles that most people today concede without a fight!

Wow! I hope that inspires you to race to the book store if you haven’t already!

I’ve planned seven weeks for this book.  Only because (if you’re anything like me) you probably like to read more than one book at a time, and tight deadlines mean the only book you can read on any given day is your book club book. I wouldn’t do that to you!

There are 219 pages in my version.  That averages out to roughly 30 pages per week, or a little more than 4 pages per day.  I will try to keep my posts on schedule, so we can read and discuss together. Remember, the more you comment, the more interactive our book club will be.  And the more interactive we are, the more we will each grow from this experience. If you are curious about our guidelines for how to interact, no worries, the first principal is to jump in and share what is on your heart! With respect to more specific instructions, check out our FAQ's here (especially numbers three and four). It is important to note that ALL are welcome to the discussion who are seeking to understand faithful Catholic spirituality.

With that, why don’t we start the discussion right now?! What do you think of the book blurb above? Or if you’ve read this book, what was your greatest take-away?

PS: Unless you specifically want to remain anonymous, it really helps when people can see each other's faces. So, if you are open to it, please update your DISQUS profile to include your picture and information about you!

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • Robert Swain

    Seems like a reasonable way to move forward. My copy is from TAN Classics and this is my first experience in this sort of thing (book club – internet or otherwise). My ongoing challenge is to focus and integrate. Hopefully this will assist me in that quest.

    • $1650412

      Robert, I have the same book you have, I think. Great cover art with an angel and a demon wrestling, right?

  • Hey Vicki – I know that folks will ask this so I thought I would put it out there. As you know, many are reading digital versions. Will you provide the reading parameters in a way that translates to reading without “pages”?

    • Vicki

      Dan, I have a Kindle, and when books do not show page numbers, they show % of book read.  If you read 14% of the book per week, you should finish it in about seven weeks. Please keep in mind that this is a fluid book club, and we’ll probably read at all different paces.  The page guide is there to promote discussion within certain parameters, and I will be posting quotes within these guidelines each week.  

      • Jennifer Burton Brannon

        Although the percentage read number is helpful, I think chapter/section parameters would be even more so… sometimes that might leave you in the middle of a chapter/thought…

      • Sam Perez

        I agree as well. I am using the same book version also clueless because its my first time joining a book club.

      • Vicki – this sounds completely reasonable. I think some are concerned they are behind or will miss out. However, your approach is very accommodating and flexible which I think will help. With about 375 book club members the diversity of sources will always provide a challenge.

      • Snirtler

        I know you’ve addressed this below. But aside from posting a quote from the 30-page section you’ve read through of the Sophia Press version, may I request that you keep us situated by posting the title of the last chapter covered? Even if the Sophia text divides the chapters differently, the title will give us a sense of the content and which parts of the book to focus on. Thanks, just throwing that out there.

      • Mikeann

        In my version that subtitle is on page 28.

      • Good stuff Suzanne. My wife and I are doing the same.

    • Jen Brannon

      Yes, this would be most helpful!!

      • Songs4lhim

        It sounds like there is a lot of confusion and stress over staying together. I would suggest that vicki post her table of contents ( Chapter titles and page numbers), That way others can get a sense of how their books jive with hers.

        I’am looking forward to getting Deeper into this.

        • Vicki

          Thanks for the suggestion. I’m out of town for a conference, but will look at my book when I return and will share the first portion of the Table of Contents if that will help people.

          I think as we get going people will have more peace about the fluidity of this club. I would rather someone overshoot me and comment ahead than worry too much about exact stopping points. I envision sharing a quote, and people can chime in on their reactions to that quote, to my commentary or to their overall reaction to that relative portion of the book. We’l play it by ear – I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot in the process.

  • judeen

    it really seems good.. to stay on topic.. and share our thoughts expereinces as we read , so much will be learned.. expicted to learn from others , and in depth

  • quiltbugjj

    I’m looking forward to participating.  I tried to upload a picture for my avatar but for some reason DISQUS is being difficult.

  • Deacon Paul

    I was impressed (even after only the first six chapters) to see how much the Saints iteract without knowing it. For example, St. Ignatius’ “Rules for Discernment” shine throught in many instances, such as in Chapter 2 of “Spiritual Combat,” the Fourth Means (of the Four Ways) to distrust our own strength – – see Rules 7, 9 and 14 of Ignatius regarding God’s permitting desolation for a reason, and the enemy attacking our weakest point. I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of the book!
    – Deacon Paul

    • LizEst

       Excellent observations on the interaction of various saints’ rules.

      • Deacon Paul

        I have to correct myself already; too eager I guess!
        Ignatius died in 1556; “Spiritual Combat” was first published in 1589. So it seems pretty clear that the heavy correlation with Ignatius’ writings indicates that the unknown author of “Combat” was very familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius.
        -Deacon Paul

        • LizEst

          Ah well, it still shows the Holy Spirit’s gentle guidance! Thank you for your honesty Deacon Paul.

  • Mary Therese

    Dan–thanks for the question about parameters other than pages–I was going to ask the same thing. Chapters, maybe? Also, *sigh*, I haven’t a clue what a “DISQUS” profile is or how to upload one (sorry!)…don’t know if I’m the only one or not, but thought I’d mention it.

    As for your question today–the back of the book “blurb”…hmmm. Sadly, I’ve gotten to where I almost ignore those because they sound so much like “advertising”–specifically over-the-top hype type advertising, which I’ve really learned to “tune-out” in my everyday life. Still, it sounds intruiging, and I’m looking forward to the “reflections to help you be sorry for sinning”–hoping they will propel me to that point where I will have a great desire to avoid even all venial sin. Seems like many of the great saints got to that point in their lives, but I’m not there yet!

    • LizEst

      I downloaded your pdf link last night and printed it out front and back this morning (20 pages using both sides). It is a better link, I believe, than the copiosa link that I used before. Now, I have a physical copy I can take with me. I don’t have a kindle, nook or ipad type product…but I can see the need for one coming up!

      Thank you so much MP! You’ve been a great help.

  • Fortitude

    I read this book between summers 2008-2009 and I cannot wait to read it again. There was just so much practical information to increase your prayer life. As a layperson, I am sincerely thankful for all of the advice Scupoli has to offer.

    If there was any takeaway for myself, I learned that fortitude is so important in the spiritual life. I find it necessary to be constantly brave and to persevere to progress that I’ve taken fortitude as my favorite gift of the Holy Spirit.

    I used to be afraid of what I would find when I gave my life to God, but not anymore. I choose to fight. I choose to be fearless. I choose God :]

    Please take the time to sincerely take to heart what this book has to offer. Pray about it and I will also pray for you :] God bless!

    • LizEst

       Welcome Fortitude (you and the virtue)!

      Thank you for your comments.

  • Vicki, the description does call to me. As it states, whether fashionable or not, the struggle is well described as a battle. I struggle with this everyday (as I’m sure many do) and I look forward to growing with this book and all of you. On to reading! 🙂

    • Vicki

      Carlos – I agree!  It may not be fashionable, but the “forces of darkness” as described on the book jacket seem even stronger today – or at least a lot more “in your face” than in generations past.  Temptations have always been there, but now it seems the temptations themselves have become almost “fashionable.”  I look forward to reading with you!

  • DiannaWorm

    I’m very excited to read this. I have been made more and more aware of the spiritual battle lately. I just finished 2 of Immaculee Ilibagiza books and have been prompted by that to wage this battle in prayer and repentance. I’m happy to be reading something that will give me the tools to do this!

    • Vicki

      I’m excited about that too! Great to see a familiar face – I’m so glad you’re joining us!!!

  • LizEst

    Thanks for your comments on DISQUS. Like you, I tried to update my profile and couldn’t. I believe the
    reason is that they are updating their system little by little. So, it
    may be a while before it is possible to update. If I figure it out
    someday, I will try to post reasonable instructions.

  • LizEst

    St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And, do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.


  • AmyC65

    I think the part that I like most about the description is:

    “What to do when prayer is dry and burdensome – or simply impossibl” I am hoping to find some grace to improve in this area.

  • JoFlemings

    Vicki, Dan, et al, I want to put in a plea for content consideration by chapter title- I’m only on chapter 16 in my version- (it’s the TAN classics one recently published and includes Treatise on Peace of Soul.) These sections/chapters are really short in my version- maybe making it possible to cover two or more at a time- I am wondering if these sections naturally lend themselves to dealing with particular topics that might facilitate specific conversation- (I am so clueless, I have never done a book club before and I am not famous for finishing much spiritual reading that I have started.)

    • Vicki

      Thanks so much for your suggestion.  

      I apologize in advance for the lengthy response; but it sounds like many would like to have the weekly readings broken into chapters, and I’d like to explain the thought process behind the 14% or 30 page per week idea.  

      I agree that would certainly make it easier to divide by chapter; but because this book was written so long ago, many publishers have an edition that may vary a little.  The content is the same, but the chapters may be divided differently.  For example, my version does not have short chapters.  I have the Sophia Press version.  One chapter is three pages, and the next is over 90 pages.  If I divided it based on my version, it would probably not work for you, since your chapters are much shorter.  Perhaps in the future, I should recommend a specific version and divide it by that.  However, in this case, several people are also reading a free version of the book online, and that may have a completely different layout as well.  One thing to keep in mind, is that I will post each week on one quote somewhere within that 30 page or 14% mark.  There is a lot of leeway in what you can read in a week.  I would definitely recommend that you finish a thought or section when you read.  That’s just fine.  It won’t throw us off in the discussion.  If it helps, this week in my version we will read through “Learn to Exercise Proper Discernment” which is about four pages into Chapter 4: Use Trustworthy Spiritual Methods. 

      Thanks again for starting the discussion – I’m sure we’ll have several things to work through as we get started.

  • Burns227

    Can you help me with how to access this comment section? I signed up yesterday for the book club but haven’t heard back. Will it be an e-mail format? Is it possible to make sure I’m signed up? Thanks.

  • Jen Brannon

    You are a girl after my own heart, hungering to discuss your Catholic spiritual books but having no one to discuss them with!

    I am excited to read this classic – I have read the modern revisiting of it, and have been planning on reading the original for some time now… I am ready to go!

    Jennifer Brannon

  • Robert Kraus

        Hello, I’m excited about the new book club. I have been wanting to read Spiritual Combat for some time, so this is an excellent opportunity to get started. I have been trying to go deeper in my faith recently, so it’ll be nice to interact and learn from other enthusiastic and devoted Catholics.
        The primary reason I heard about and wanted to read this book was in that book blurb, about how St. Francis de Sales kept Spiritual Combat in his pocket. I love de Sales, so I immediately knew that here was another book I needed to pick up and read. God bless you all and call me Bob! 🙂

    • LizEst

       Ah, Robert, there’s nothing like a reference that helped make saints saints to spur us on our way. Happy reading!

  • Maria

    Started on the chapter on Self-Distrust….
    How would one deal with this if they have low-self confidence and low self-worth…
    I know humility is very important but also that discouragement is prideful… Am struggling with this…

  • Started on the chapter on Self-Distrust….
    How would one deal with this if they have low-self confidence and low self-worth…
    I know humility is very important but also that discouragement is prideful… Am struggling with this…

    • Maria – these are two very separate issues. Low self-confidence is rooted in lack of understanding or belief in the gifts God has given. This usually happens due to messages from our parents (subtle or direct) or the lack of encouragement.

      Self-distrust is a disposition that recognizes our inherent weaknesses with respect to our ability to discern and live in a way that honors God. Thus, we need Him to mitigate our weaknesses and others, people of good-will, to help us to properly discern what hinders our growth in Him. Self-distrust is really about mitigating delusion of self-sufficiency.

      In the end, all can be overcome by pursuing Him with abandon and trusting in Him and His work in and through you.

      • LSLinda

        Dan: You alluded to the fact that the enemy can be within as well as without. I’ve found low self-confidence is one of the greatest enemies one can face because it is one of the most difficult to overcome. To “understand” the gifts of God is one thing; to “believe” them is another, and that cannot be forced. It is a gift, and often requires healing. It’s all grace. 

        • True. When we struggle from a disordered negative self-perception we need to work on reprogramming ourselves to recognize who we are in Christ – thus the “Who Are You” post…

          • Thank you for those posts! They’ve helped me a lot! I also loved the “Love Letter from your Father”

    • LizEst

      Hi Maria,

      The most important thing is to trust God with all your heart. We hear this throughout scripture, for example Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In other words, when you turn to him with all your heart, your focus will be on him and not yourself. The Lord himself even aides us in this. The fact that you are here on-line and talking about it is a help, proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in you. But, because the roots of sin are deep, it takes work and lots of it. He could fix it instantly himself. But, we were created for participation in his goodness. Thus, we are happier, more grateful, when we participate in His plan for us. Jesus has already won the battle for us and gives us himself, in the Eucharist, in his Word, in his Church, in the sacraments, as a remedy and an antidote to the difficulties that beset us. The Lord is faithful in all his ways. In this, he wants us to be the same. It IS a struggle. And, your struggling and not giving up is a sign that you are following in his way and his faithfulness. If you slip and fall, just do like Jesus and get up and be on your way again, knowing that he is yoked to you and bearing your difficulties with and for you. In our day, we have the Divine Mercy devotion whose theme is “Jesus, I trust in you.” Such a short phrase and such a powerful way to put our focus on the Lord.May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine on you and give you peace. May the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding, be with you now and forever.

  • Stalbot246

    I have the Kindle version of this book…I am very interested in finding help in fighting the spiritual battles that come my way. I’m also a convert to the Catholic faith…I’m going on my 23rd year and it feels like the past 5 years I’ve actually embraced and became over the top excited about being a Catholic!! I was recently a Confirmation sponsor and I told my pastor it felt like I was being Confirmed myself!! Many graces have been poured out on me and I am excited to get some good info and insight to help keep me on track!! Thank you for your time in the adventure!!

    • LizEst

      Hi Stalbot!

      There is nothing like celebrating a new life in Christ that rekindles and strengthens in us the new life we have been gifted with. Andiamo! Let us be on our way!

  • Jadie Matthew

    Looking forward to getting my copy from Amazon today or tomorrow. I always enjoy books with practical advice. I am also looking forward to discussion with this community.

    In honor of the day, I ask St. Anthony to pray for our success and growth.

    • Marian

      I agree JDMatthew. Today at Mass, Father explained that St. Anthony “got lost in Scripture” and became an eloquent preacher which is why we ask his intercession for lost things. I ask that he would interceed for all of us as we read this book to get “lost” in the truth of battling the enemy with the might of our God!

  • Jeanette

    Re: “Best of all, Spiritual Combat doesn’t just tell you what you ought to be doing in order to live a truly Christian life – it shows you how.”
    I really need to read this book right now and how to apply its directives to my life…just coming out of a four day spiritual battle. It’s imperative that I know (that we all know) how to put on our most effective ‘spiritual armour’ so that we can ‘fight the good fight.’ Thank you Vicki and Dan for all your efforts to put forward this good work!

    • LizEst

      Hi Jeanette,

      A lot of us need these directives in our lives…and I wouldn’t be surprised if many have had a recent and/or intense spiritual battle. There has been a great and wonderful response to this book club worldwide…and, you know the devil hates that sort of thing.

      God bless you…and happy reading!

    • judeen

      spiritual battle= what did you learn? or are you praying for something? or being strenghtened .. are you stronger? or some other virtue? look at what God is trying to teach you … or tell you.. the cur of arc would be attacked when a big sinner would come back to God… the night before… in retreats we see this..   

      • Jeanette

        What I learned is that the Grace of God is sufficient for us and on my own, I could never win a spiritual battle…for whichever virtue we are being tempted.

        • judeen

          yes we never can win , but through God we can we are baptized.. and given gifts from God… God working in and through us… we fight the battle with love… prayer , purity.. all given to us by God in God and all for Gods glory… that is why we pray… that is why we are confirmed… and go to confession regularly.. so we are in the state of Grace so God will fight the good fight for us…

  • I just started reading the book and love how it gives you step-by-step instructions on how to achieve each particular goal. I’ve been highlighting these sections and plan on putting them on some sort of card, so that I can easily refer to them in moments of spiritual combat. I also love how short each chapter is (just a couple of pages). This makes is all the more easier to read. Thanks so much for picking this book as the first one for the Book Club to read. Everyone should read this book!

  • mconder

    Chapter 1 offered this summary of the spiritual life that struck me deeply:”The spiritual life consists not in these things [exterior works though they are nice]. It consists in nothing else but the knowledge of the goodness and the greatness of God, and of our nothingness and inclination to all evil; in the love of Him and the hatred of ourselves, in subjection, not to Him alone, but for love of Him, to all His creatures; in entire renunciation of all will of our own and absolute resignation to all His divine pleasure; and furthermore, willing and doing all this purely for the glory of God and solely to please Him, and because He so wills and merits thus to be loved and served.”Doing all for the glory of God’s holy name, for only one purpose – to please Him, for only one motive – that He should be loved and served by all His creatures. This makes it so very clear to me and this is exactly where my struggle begins. This is where the combat wages in me.

  • jsconnor

    I am interested in your book club because I am a Roman Catholic Priest who is starting one of my own for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish called A Kindle Theology and Spirituality Book Club. I would like to recommend yours to them as well. In addition to Spiritual Combat I would like to recommend Fr. Jonathan Roberson, Spiritual Combat Revisited. Fr. Robertson provides some useful background information. Thank you for your guidance. Fr. John Connor, C.S.C.,

    • Dear Father Connor, very glad to have you and to hear of your efforts. I can also heartily second your recommendation for Spiritual Combat Revisited!

    • Marie

      I also have to agree with you Fr. that I like Spiritual Combat Revisited by Fr. Jonathan Roberson. It is one of my Top 5 books in my spiritual library.

  • LRooney

    Interesting that we are starting this book right after the Pope spoke to his brother cardinals about the spiritual combat in which the “Church militant” constantly finds herself! He said, “Today the word ecclesia militans [Church Militant] is a bit out of fashion, but in reality we can always better understand that which is true, that which encapsulates truth. We see how evil wants to rule the world and that it’s necessary to enter the struggle against evil. We see how it does this in so many very violent ways, with different forms of violence, but also posing as a force for good while destroying the moral foundations of society.

    St. Augustine said that all history is a struggle between two loves: love of oneself even to the extent of defying God, and love of God, to the
    extent of defying oneself, in martyrdom. We are in this fight and in this fight it is very important to have friends.”  So thank you, Vicki, for providing the “friends” we need!  

    • Vicki

      God is so good – in His divine providence He has brought us all together at this moment to break from our “Martha” worlds and sit at His feet with Mary. There are no coincidences, as one commenter noted.  And St. Augustine was right – the greatest obstacle to the joy that we each seek is our Selves. I’m so pleased that we will be reading and learning together how to win that battle with SELF.  

    • jdobbinsPHD

       The idea of engaging in this warfare individually and as part of a supportive community is important. We need support to deal with many of the things we encounter. John Paul II said the Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, would go through a mystical Passion, but would emerge, as Christ did, more glorious than ever. This warfare is something we do within ourselves and as part of the Church Militant.

  • Shawna Aubin

    Hi everyone…. I love this idea of an online book club. As a working mother of 4 young ones…well, time is sometimes hard to find. But I do love to read, especially about our faith. I’ve not picked up the book yet (I’m hoping to get it from our local library this weekend) but I love the part about “dry prayer” This is one of my greatest struggles.

    Thanks so much for having a resource like this available! Blessings.

    • Hello, Shawna. I just wanted to introduce myself to you as I am also a mother with four children. May God bless you in all you do, and provide the time you need for this spiritual reading! :o)

  • Gladys

    I’m most happy about the book choice. I have to make an effort to remember we are engaged in a spiritual combat every single second. The tendency to find strictly “earthly” explanations to everything is awfully strong. Hopefully, reading this book mindfully will keep the “warrior” in me alive and kicking with assistance from Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. Thank-you for starting this club!


  • GHM_52

    Thanks for starting the book club with Spiritual Combat. Having full awareness of the fact that we all are engaging in such a combat every single second of our earthly lives is a necessary condition for our survival. It is hard to remember that we are at war with enemies we can’t see, touch, or hear.

  • Renee

    This is a great idea- I will start this book today

  • As I read through this book, I am amazed that in 1589, Fr. Scupoli decided to write this book just for me.

    Okay, maybe it wasn’t written specifically for me, but in reading its message, I feel like it was. It really hits home with what I struggle with at every step of my spiritual journey. It’s almost like it was written after looking through to my heart, with all it’s weaknesses, flaws and desires. WOW! I can’t wait to read more. The hard part is putting it into practice.

    • That may be easier said than done. The first step is the hardest, and I don’t see myself mastering it in 4 short weeks. I’m currently reflecting on this need for self-distrust. As a human being (especially in this society around the “me”) it’s a very difficult philosophy to master. My sense is that after getting beyond the first, the rest will follow.

      There I go trusting “my” sense again. :-/

      • LizEst

        You’re a catechist, so you know the Bible shows us how God comes through time and time again in big and small ways…ultimately giving us Jesus, who is our Salvation. When I review my life, I see how this is truly the case, even when, at times, I thought it was going from bad to worse. It was God who was leading, pushing, teaching me his way and teaching me to trust him. He is a true friend. When you reflect on your life, no doubt, you will find the same thing even though our experiences differ. God is surely with you teaching you to trust in him rather than you own understanding. He knows what is best for us. And, he makes each of our paths straight if we but trust and follow him.

        He has put this book and this book club in our paths to help us in our quest for him and in the spiritual battle. Because he sees each of our hearts, he knows when this quest is sincere…and he rewards every effort we make in the way that is best suited for us, even if it is not the way we think he should reward us. Remember, he wants for us what we ourselves desire: everlasting happines. So, it is with that goal that he rewards, cajoles, chides and punishes us so that we may ultimately have our our eternal reward with him forever.

        It takes time to build a friendship. Some things are going to come quicker to you than to me and vice versa. Pursue the goal without counting the cost. The effort to know, love and serve God and trust in him always pays more than what we put in. God is very, very generous, so generous that we cannot even imagine what he has prepared for those who love him.

        • Well said, my friend. 🙂

        • jdobbinsPHD

          Lizest, Fr. Scupoli makes two points that we have to give great attention to. He says we should not trust self and always trust God. Confidence in the love of God for us is very important, knowing that God is omnipotent and His great desire for us is that we enjoy eternity sharing in His divine nature.

    • jdobbinsPHD

      Carlos, That is the real value of this book. It was written for you, and Dan, and Liz, and me, and all of us. Every one of us can pick up this book and find great value. It also shares characteristics with Introduction To The Devout Life in that it is not written just for professed religious, but for all of us.

  • Rockybebop

    I like the fact that it will offer ways to show us how to learn a Christian life. One of my biggest areas is praying when prayer seems like more of burden than a joy,

  • Roshni Tatavarti

    I am from India. may i know where I can get the book so that I can buy and read.  Do you plan to show important pages / paras on this blog. I am sorry to trouble

    K C Thomas (

  • I have to admit that based on the cover of this book (an image of St. Michael) and the title, I assumed this book was about fighting the devil. While I guess it is indirectly (in the sense that he tempts us with our weaknesses), it seems that it’s more about fighting ourselves. I never appreciated that perspective before beginning this book. I wonder if it will evolve away from that as I get deeper in the book, but I’m quite pleased with what I’m learning about myself thus far. It’s rather eye-opening!

    • Carlos – funny thing. When I first encountered the book I had the same impression. I think it is also interesting that often the battle with the enemy involves the same basic acts of the will regardless of the source of the attack (self or the enemy).

      • Excellent point, Dan. To a certain extent, the source is irrelevant because it ultimately all ends up as an act of the will, either by furthering God’s will or as a fall.

        Thank you for the insight.

      • GAartist

        Gives truer meaning to “we are our own worst enemy”

    • jdobbinsPHD

       Carlos, this view of warfare within persists throughout the book. As you read, it is hard to disagree with what he says or the approaches to take. This is certainly one of those spiritual gems we sometimes come across.

  • Marian

    I like the phrase: “the tug-of-war for your soul that’s raging right now between the forces of light and the forces of darkness” because that’s how it feels most of the time. I feel the strength of God when the temper comes, but I also hear the ‘voice’ that wants to lure me outside of the reality of God’s love for me. It’s a real war, to be sure.

  • Jennifer Woo

    I have not started yet, but the book sounds amazingly practical. That is attractive to me because often I need very concrete directions!

  • Lloyd

    I received the book from UPS today. Excited to get started. I don’t have a DISQUS profile yet.

  • Heather Letchford

    This book is like having a spiritual director on the shelf, with a remedy for many spiritual ails. It has suggestions for progress as well as struggles. The words never age, every time I read this, it is more thrilling than before. Read it again, and again. It is the spiritual ‘never ending story’ – with ongoing insights and adventures.

    • LizEst

       That’s high praise–spiritual director on the shelf.

  • Ltqlin

    Ch. 1: What is the true nature and perfection of spirituality? It is in knowing God and trusting Him and being so inclined to His will that in any given moment, I will be found by Him to be ready to love and to serve Him and do what He asks of me, motivated only by a desire to please him and bring him the glory that is so rightfully His.
    —HOW am I to become this for Him in a manner that is faithfully consistent? So far, I have found the Ignatian method of the examen to be a key practice; however, I am very skilled at avoiding it!

  • Peg

    Roshni – I found this book on I ordered the Tan Classic version [as mentioned in a few posts above].

    Unfortunately, I’m still waiting on delivery, but I will catch up soon when it arrives.

  • I just have to say that there are over 75 comments already and we haven’t even “officially” started discussing the book, only the blurb in the post. I love how vibrant this book club is already!!

    • CLudwick

      I agree; this is so exciting. I may spend as much time reading the comments as the book. May God enlighten us all as we move forward in this loving endeavor.

      • Robert Kraus

        I have to hold myself back as I’m slowly reading the book each day, wanting to start discussing and commenting, but waiting for the official club to move. I can’t wait to talk more with everyone! 🙂

    • judeen

      the more you give the more you get back.. same in retreats.. the more you share the more you grow , get out and grow closer to God..

  • Kristin_P

    Hello, Shawna. I just wanted to introduce myself to you as I am also a mother with four children. May God bless you in all you do, and provide the time you need for this spiritual reading! :o)

  • Becky Ward

    I love honesty!! 🙂

  • Don

    Had read Spiritual Combat awhile ago and after just finishing Chapter 1 I wonder why it has taken me so long to return to this book. Really looking forward to this Book Club

    • judeen

      don , it is time… it seems we only can get just so far. until God wants us to advance.. dont know why.. but when it is time all things fall into place and we understand it.. and it is easy…

  • Sam Perez

    Ch. 2 Trusting in ourselves is so easy. These four means of examination of self is truly the way to begin to understand how much God loves me. I feel like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. My heart is burning within me to discover more as I read.

    • judeen

      sam , what are the 4 means of examination of self? thanks and when do you use it?

  • Just got the book ,ready to start im really happy you guys put a book club on your site thank you.i really need to do some spirtual reading and drawing closer to God.Ive been having some spiritual dryness please pray for me,GOD BLESS YOU ALL DEBBIE

    • doing good,i have to start the book,im a very bad procrastinator.thank you for praying for me.i need it.i pray for you too God Bless You Debbie

  • Burns227

    The book is excellent so far. If I can offer one thought from my version (Tan Classics) … nothing can be more noble or approach the divine nature more closely than to forgive those who injure us, and to return good for evil.  

  • Vicki

    God is so good – in His divine providence He has brought us all together at this moment to break from our “Martha” worlds and sit at His feet with Mary. There are no coincidences, as one commenter noted.  And St. Augustine was right – the greatest obstacle to the joy that we each seek is our Selves. I’m so pleased that we will be reading and learning together how to win that battle with SELF.  

  • lacatholicmom

    Thank you so much for starting this book club!  What a blessing!

    The title alone of this book grabbed my attention.  So many Catholics are unaware of the concept of spiritual battle.  How can we hope to win this battle unless we prepare by putting on the full armor of God? This book should help us to do just that.

  • Examenyourday

    Hello, I’m a little confused about how to post. It’s asking me to post as guest or sign into disqus?? A few days ago I asked a question about getting the book on kindle and posted under my name Melissa. I did see the suggestion about updating your profile on disqus? I tried to go to their site and join, but they only have a login page. Also, I have posted occasionally in the past and I did have my picture. Sorry to be off topic…

    • MarytheDefender

       Hi! I just created a Disqus account today… As a guest, my name on this site used to be Maria.
      You can create an account on this link.
      If you don’t have a website you can just sign up as a commenter. It’s on the upper right hand corner of the white part of the screen.
      But if you had a picture before, then do you already have an account?

      • MarytheDefender

         Ah “New Name” :)) I get it! Your welcome!

  • LizEst


    Thank you so much. You have been a great help to me and to other book club members. As you can see, I now have a picture and a “New Name”. The reason, the rest of us could not do this is that DISQUS was updating its system. By posting your instructions, you are the first to let us know this has been fixed. Thank you. Thank you.

    I have posted the link in a separate post so that, hopefully, others can see it and add their pictures, too.

    May God bless you abundantly.

  • LizEst

    Hi Everyone,

    MarytheDefender just posted instructions for how to create a DISQUS account in order to post a picture/change your profile. I had tried this earlier and was unable to do so. Others had the same problem. The fact that she was able to do means that DISQUS has finished the update of this feature in their system. So, if you are trying to add a picture, as Dan requested, please try it again now. Click on this link:

    Then, click on the “create a commenter account” button on the top right side of the screen. Follow those instructions.

    Once you have added/changed your profile, you can also merge all the previous comments you posted from your email address.

    Happy updating! God bless you!

  • Snirtler

    I’ll begin with a confession. I barely know the book of Revelation, but what has stuck with me is the warning in 3:16, “… because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.”

    If we’re not to be lukewarm, we can’t shrink from daily spiritual combat. This attitude is opposed to the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mentality that seems to pervade contemporary society. I use the word “seem” because “going out of one’s comfort zone” is also heard in contemporary talk. Would that more people realize that’s also true of spiritual life. In all areas of life, we want to see ourselves grow. So why should we be content to remain spiritual pygmies?

    Anyway, great book choice! I tend to veer away from the self-help aisles of bookstores. But this book is self-help in the right spirit.

    • Snirtler

      I wish I could claim originality, but I must have heard the phrase (or something similar) before in connection with St Josemaria.

      Also Fr Garrigou-Lagrange in “The Three Ages of the Interior Life” writes:

      “We shall see that the beginner who does not become a proficient, as he
      should, turns out badly or remains … as it
      were, a spiritual dwarf. As the fathers, particularly St. Bernard,
      so often say: “He who does not advance, falls back.”

      • LizEst

        “Spiritual dwarf” is also a good description. Thank you.

        Hmm. If you remember/find where St. Escriva used a similar phrase, would you please post it? Thanks. Escriva has so many nuggets to meditate on. He’s worthy of a read or two.

        Garrigou-Lagrange’s books would also make great selections for our book club. What do you think? I haven’t read the one you mention but have read “The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life.”

        Thank you Margarita. btw, looks like you changed your name. True?

        • Snirtler

          Most welcome. Yes, I’ll do a bit more digging for the Escriva reference. Yes to Garrigou-Lagrange for the book club. I know of him from trusted sources, but have not read him. (Yes, did the name change; “snirtler” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily)

          • Lagrange is two volumes more than 1000 pages in small font…

          • LizEst

             His “The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life” (formerly “The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life) is only 112 pages in the TAN version. It’s sitting next to me right now!

          • My mistake. You are right. I was thinking of the Three Ages of the Interior Life

          • Snirtler

            @LizEst:disqus &@danburke:disqus: The length of Three Ages sounds more suited for individual reading than book club material. Perhaps the club might consider something else from his ouevre, but Scupoli first.

          • LizEst

            Yeah, “The Three Ages” sounds long. His “The Three Conversions,” however, is very doable at only 112 small pages. Of course Scupoli is first.

          • LizEst

            Dan–we’re both right! It’s just that the shorter book is more doable as a book club. Doesn’t hurt to mention the longer one, either. Some may way to dig into that.

          • Yes – they can definitely do it if they have a year free!

        • jdobbinsPHD

           Lagrange would be an excellent choice. He has several books, not just the three ages books. I have not read anything of his I did not like. Another possibility is Fr. John Arintero, O.P., on The Mystical Evolution of the Church. When I first began my spiritual journal, I had several questions and wrote them down so I would not forget them. When I picked up the Arintero book I was gleefully surprised. Page after page I was ticking off answers to my questions.

          • LizEst

            How wonderful that you got those questions answered. That’s a great advert for your suggestion.

            Thanks jdobibnsPHD. What is your doctorate in?

          • jdobbinsPHD

             The Management of Science, Technology and innovation.

          • jdobbinsPHD

            All of nature comes from God so when we study science we are studying the works of God. Innovation is using the creative gifts God has given us. Technology is the result of the application of those creative gifts. Some people use these gifts in evil ways, such as inventing ways to abort children. Others use their gifts to do good, to invent cures for disease or to teach. God permeates it all, but we have to be open to His inspiration. I teach my children to never forget that their talents are a gift from God, and they could just as easily have been born some other way, and so to thank God for what they do have.

    • Snirtler

      Er, I think I gave my own comment a thumbs-up. Did not mean to do that. Anyone else having trouble viewing the comment threads on Firefox?

  • Cynthia

    Wow. I am really lookiing forward to reading this book. I “suffered” through a very dry prayer time from January through April of this year. Even with a spirtual director to see me through and knowing that the aridity was a gift from God, it was still quite a time of testing for me. It will be good to have some pointers on what to do when that arid time of prayer rolls around again!

  • Spiritual Combat is not just a “once” read. It is a book that you will go back to again and again. I have used it for many years and it always provides a fresh injection of spiritual fortification.

  • judeen

    arid times.. a time of testing.. strenghting, and earning spiritual gifts…
        for the next step deeper with God… we can stop it at any time.. telling God we can no longer do it.. but then later we have to go through it again.. look for what God is trying to teach you.. the faster you can understand what God is trying to teach you the sooner the dry hard times are over.. maybe it is pacience… or understanding.. or not being embarrassed of you faith .. so on… seek what God wants you to learn to grow in your job on earth

  • jdobbinsPHD

    Fr. Scupoli’s book is timeless. When I first picked it up, I thought he was going to speak about some external enemy we had to fight. It surprised me that he spoke about the internal warfare we have to wage within ourselves. His wisdom comes through in every page. His spiritual exercises are very well structured. In the discussions we have at my home, which we publish as a podcast, we recently worked through part of the book, Spiritual Combat Revisited, which is Fr. Robinson’s elaboration on Fr. Scupoli’s book. Both are excellent. Great choice for our first book club selection.

  • Cynthia

    I learned so much! I learned to ask: 1. Is this dryness of me? 2. Is this drying of evil? 3. Is this dryness of God? and if it’s God’s gift to me, to fully surrender to it, to accept it, to let it be as it is.
    In the sitting and waiting I learned a deepening of what I already had: faith, hope, reliance on and love of God, reliance on and love of Mary, trust in each person of the Holy Trinity and in Mary, faithfulness, persistance, patience, courage, compassion, love of neighbor, stillness, and humility.
    For the last 25 years, I’ve been quick to say in every circumstance that “God gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.” This 4 month season of aridity in prayer really put that saying to the test in me! I told myslef daily that I was cooperating with the Holy Spirit in prayer, just as it was, because God was giving me the very best of gifts that He had to give me, in that moment. Every day, in faith, I believed that God was changing me in this prayer even though I felt all alone with nothing happening. I was learning a new way of “being” with God. and I was definately experiencing a detachment from an attachment to consolations! It seemed like the world was completely empty of any presence of God; yet, in faith, I thanked God for His presence in me and around me and for the many Graces he was pouring out on me. Before the dryness I felt complete; in the dryness I knew I was being completed. In a downpour of Grace and Love from Above I couldn’t feel a single drop…maybe just a slight mist now and then. But I continued to believe in His love and mercy and graces given.
    During Holy Week, I realized that like Peter I was learning how to be led (when and to whatever the Holy Spirit was leading me) and how to wait (on God’s intention in my life, instead of on acting on my own intention). I was learning to accept God as he was revealing himself, instead of insisting on a prayer life of my own making.
    Last but not least, I learned to see a real purpose in the dryness when Jesus entered a childhood memory and completed a deeper healing in me of the fear of abandonment. Along with the healing, I gained more forgiveness and understanding of others, and a deep gratitude for them at the same time.
    Forgive me, Lord, if I’ve forgotten something…. I know You will give me more opportunities to grow in knowledge and love of You.
    I love you, Jesus, my love!

    • LizEst

      Wow, wow, wow! That was so beautiful. What terrific graces you have given. You are so very blessed…and we are so very blessed to have you among us in this venture. Thank you for sharing your story and yourself with us. Blessed be God.

      ps. Your spiritual director has been very good for you!

      • Cynthia

        Yes, may God bless all spiritual directors! And I thank God for bringing me into contact with my spiritual director…
        I look forward to getting to know God and myslef better as well as the other 400 people who have signed up for this journey!

        • Cynthia

          Amen! to God be the glory…

  • Shannon

    I have a specific question and was wondering if anyone has some insights to share…
    I am a mother of 5 small people (8, 6, 4, 2, 9 mos). There are times/seasons in my awesome job of mothering that I am impatient and unkind and lack gentleness with the kiddos. With that said, as I read the chapters on “How we may know whether we are acting with self-distrust and trust in God” I was taken by the line, “if your sadness and discouragement is much…your trust in self was much.”
    After a hard day with my littles, I might feel a shadow of sadness or an overpowering sense that I did not respond to God’s call well that day. But additionally (and here is finally my point for discussion) I consider that my lack of virtue or my “fall,” as Scupoli calls it, does not just effect me. It is not so simple just to admit my weakness and look to God’s goodness and try again. It often strikes me that there is a little gaggle of children that have just seen me show the vice that I often ask them to curb, little feelings that are hurt, or memories being made of mom’s lack of virtue. Yes, the kids are so fast to forgive when I ask pardon, and many times they will wake in the morning fresh without any mention of the day before, but I still struggle with the fact that my “falls” are directly effecting the people whom I love the most. If it were gluttony, unkind thoughts, greed, jealousy, etc. those vices might go undetected, but my impatience is often seen and heard (and sometimes repeated) by all the little ones whom God has entrusted to my care. Any thoughts on how to weed through the self-trust and win the battle?

    • LizEst

      Hi Shannon,

      I am going to try to say this again…but hope this is not a duplicate response of the one I may or may not have posted. Sometimes, my typing is too uncontrolled for my own good! Here are some thoughts:

      Your experiences are common to many. But, unlike some, you are very self aware and are wise to seek counsel. I don’t have children but had my parents living with me over six years. Some of the issues are similar.

      Unchecked impatience/anger has a tendency to become more so over time because it feeds on itself. While some impatience/anger is justified (remember the finding of the child Jesus in the temple and Jesus’ cleansing of the temple), not all is (“If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.” Eph 4:26-27). You are right to be concerned about those issues turning into hurtful memories for the little ones and/or having them pass on that impatience/anger to others (including their own children years from now). What has helped me (and may or may not work for you) are seven things:

      1. Make use of the sacrament of penance. Confess, confess, confess. The grace received in this sacrament helps break through self-trust issues.

      2. Have a formal course of prayer, specifically the Liturgy of the Hours or whatever a spiritual director might recommend, that you pray throughout the day. The Psalms cover the range of human emotions and are balm for the soul. In them, you talk to God and God talks to you. And, you learn much about yourself and God by this spiritual discipline.

      3. When parenting responsibilities crowd your prayer time, go tend to those responsibilities and, in doing so, offer it up to the Lord, knowing that you are going from serving God in prayer to serving Jesus present in your little ones. Then, return to your prayers when the opportunity arises. If the day comes to an end and you haven’t been able to keep up the prayer schedule, offer that up as well and resolve to resume the next day.

      4. Physical exercise helps dissipate some of that built-up impatience/anger. Perhaps you are already doing this!

      5. Do the proverbial, count to ten thing! Count to twenty if you have to! Think about Christ’s presence in the little ones.

      6. Seek a spiritual director, if you don’t already have one. Your pastor may be able to recommend one. Your diocese/archdiocese may also have a list of qualified directors that you could check into.

      7. Lastly, you don’t mention any issues with your spouse or your own parents here, nor would I expect you to, nor am I implying there are any. But, take a look at those relationships. Sometimes, the impatience and anger that expresses itself to little ones has a basis in those relationships…or childhood issues with playmates/schoolmates. If there are such issues and they seem insurmountable, get professional help with them.

      Finally, don’t give up on yourself. God doesn’t! Put your trust in the Lord and acknowledge his power and your own powerlessness over these things. I know people who have had impatience/anger issues all their lives. They improved so much that others believed they would be saints. It can be the case for you, too.

      God bless you, Shannon. May the Lord give you much grace and assistance in your quest to become more like Christ. May he complete the good work he has begun in you (cf Phil 1:6).

    • Kel Belle

      Shannon, I used to be this mother. The one that was short, impatient and struggling. Some of my children’s personalities grated on me so much I thought I’d never make it. I prayed so hard for help. It has been three years, but now I finally can say I’ve been transformed.
      1)Pray Pray Pray for discernment. My one son had a reaction to food dye and it made him a child that no one wanted to tolerate for long, it was difficult to handle. God showed me that it was the food dye that made him change. One priest told me that the Lord hears a Mother’s prayers.
      2)Daily Mass. I know Moms that have several little ones that take them. I use to go in the evening some days so I didn’t need to pack up everyone in the morning.
      3) Get rid of pride! Banish it in the name of Jesus, by His precious blood. Pride is the root of ALL sin and I say all discontentment. I never realized how much pride came in to play until I started banishing it every time it came up. If there was something that someone said that fed my pride, I banished the pride in the name of Jesus by His precious blood. I still do it daily and more than once a day. But I can tell you, that my MIL is living with us right now. I used to get irritated at the lack of help or personality issues. This is the first time ever that there isn’t the irritation. The only difference is banishment of pride. It feeds so much in our life of discontent, you’d be amazed.
      4) If you fall and get overly impatient and yell, run to confession and confess it out. Don’t let the devil have this accusation against you. We know he accuses us night and day. Confession is the key to staying in shape spiritually. (Every 2 weeks is my standard).
      5) One day in Mass a few years ago I was trying to concentrate on things and the kids were misbehaving and squirmy. I LOVE my children! I had this instant (regrettable) thought in my head “these children are in the way of my Sainthood.” I had an immediate rebuke in a voice that did not come from me that said “They ARE your path to Sainthood.” Wow, that one thing changed me drastically in my approach.
      6) I had a priest tell me when I went to confession that my sin was not bringing Jesus in to that moment. If I start to get worked up it’s hard for me to remember to bring Jesus in. So I have decided to ask Jesus to let me feel his presence ALWAYS at my right side. He is my constant guest. How can I yell if Jesus is over for the day?
      Don’t give up. They are your path to Sainthood and you’re going to break through this beautifully! God Bless, Kelly

  • MaryHMN

    I would like to join the book club but I am not sure how to sign up. I see that people are commenting here, but how did the 400+ sign up to be a part of it?
    I have started the book and enjoy it very much!

  • Bernadette

    Has anyone found a electronic version of the book? 🙂

  • Deacon Paul

    I am still a bit concerned about how folks will view the “distrust of self” that the author uses very frequently. As you may recall, Fr. Richard Hauser in his book “In His Spirit” (p.13) says that a KEY to all spirituality is Trust of the Self. Here is a quote: “If God’s Spirit has truly joined our spirit, then we have every reason to trust the deepest inner movements of our natures.
    So I think we have to assume that the author of Spiritual Combat was thinking in terms of a reliance upon our own Self ONLY, rather than a reliance on God within me.
    Just an afterthought! 🙂
    -Deacon Paul

    • Deacon – I may be wrong (it is a frequent issue), but on my reading, if I hold up this idea from Fr. Hauser (not having the full context) against what I know of the doctors of the Church, particularly Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, etc, he holds views that are in direct contradiction to their constant admonition to distrust self.

    • judeen

      Hi Deacon..,, I have been given this book several by a preist and others… it is a very good book,.. the reason He talks about distrust of self.. the devil will try to act as good and twist things.. test all things… the scripture talks about… some times things that come to mind are not you… and not God.. so it should have a conformation with it… if it is of God.. like readings of scripture from mass of the day.. or bible readings you pick up or lidurgy of hrs… of the day.. or even I ask God to conferm it with 2 other people telling me about it that dont know each other.. conformation. is the key.. alot of the times one will reconize God right away.. yet God is pleased when testing it…

  • This book sounds wonderful! I’m going to put in on my reading list!

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