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Book Club – Spiritual Combat – Battling Despair

July 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Battling Despair

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The Evil one even uses virtue to tempt us to sin, inflating our egos with exaggerated self-esteem and complacency to the point where we succumb to vainglory. Thus we must be ceaselessly vigilant, cognizant of our own nothingness, our sinfulness, our appalling inadequacy, and ever mindful that we deserve nothing but eternal perdition. Let this remembrance be to us as a sword with which we defend ourselves from the insidious attacks of presumption and vanity; and let us fight with the vigor of a man struggling for his very life. – Spiritual Combat (TAN version, pg. 103); in Sophia Press, the comparable passage is found on page 90-91)

Now that I’ve spent over a hundred pages reading about how absolutely vile and pathetic I am, and how Satan will tempt me even when – correction – especially when – I think I’m working for God’s glory, what exactly prevents me from falling into despair?

I don’t mean to be glib, but I must admit, I’ve had difficulty reading over the past week. I know that the information in this book is true. And bit by bit, it’s digestible and I can put it into practice. But all the warnings about this sin or that sin have made me feel like I’m in a virtual minefield and cannot take a step without doing serious damage. Every time I think, say or do anything, I hear Scupoli questioning my motives to the point that I am virtually paralyzed with fear because of the glaring danger presented by all my faults.

It occurred to me that perhaps I’m just not holy enough to read this book. On a scale from one to ten, with one being the world’s worst sinner, and ten being a saint, I think this book must be meant for at least a number six. Someone who can conceive of themselves monitoring their every move, despising themselves and conquering all the evil motives in their lives. Someone who can do good things while keeping themselves in check – recognizing their nothingness and humbly working through God’s grace to make the world a better place.

Me? On a scale from one to ten, I’m probably more along the lines of a two or three. Then again, according to the book itself, perhaps I’m the type that should be reading it. After all, if I thought I were a six, I’d be much too prideful. The fact that I consider myself a measly two or three probably means I’m more holy than those who consider themselves a four or above, but maybe less holy than those who consider themselves a one. Then again, the very fact that I would compare my holiness to that of someone else takes me out of the running and I’m back to square one – perhaps I shouldn’t be reading this book. See how this Scupoli is running me in circles?

Truly, this week, I felt like I was constantly gasping for air, only to be shoved back underwater with every word I read. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had trouble staying afloat. I actually confessed my “unworthiness” for this book to my priest, who was very familiar with Spiritual Combat. He suggested that I set it aside for awhile, in favor of a book that is more “hopeful.” He mentioned that, while this is a very good and holy book, he’s had a number of people tell him they battled despair while reading it. (Of course, I didn’t tell him I am reading it with four hundred and fifty other people, and the notion of setting it aside probably wouldn’t go over very well.)

Since putting it down was not an option for me, I went back to the beginning of the book, in effort to get my bearings straight. I’m glad I did. I found that despite page after page about distrust of self, Scupoli himself acknowledges that Trust in God is key and that without it, I will be in the exact position I’ve found myself this week.

On page 13 of the TAN version (Sophia Press, pg. 19), he states “Although distrust of self is absolutely necessary in the spiritual combat, nevertheless, if this is all we have to rely on, we will soon be routed, plundered, and subdued by the enemy. To it, therefore, we must join firm confidence in God, the Author of all good, from Whom alone the victory must be expected.”

Of course, God will achieve victory for me. At this point, this reminder is a great relief. Keeping this in mind will certainly help me to finish this book.

Additionally, it occurred to me that all this focus on how I absolutely cannot trust myself or my motives might have an ulterior motive of its own. Perhaps Scupoli is a platoon leader of sorts. Isn’t it a PL’s job to tear down a soldier and then to build him back up to be the best Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine soldier he can be?

As an Air Force brat with two veteran parents (each having over 25 years of service), I can certainly make sense of that idea. This is Scupoli’s version of Spiritual Boot Camp. In other words, he plans to tear me down to my own nothingness, so that he can build me back up in Christ, so to speak. After all, this is a battle. And I am a soldier. If he convinces me that I’m nothing (without Christ), he can make me a better soldier for Christ. And I can be better equipped for the battle. It’s all beginning to make sense…

Discussion Questions:

1. Have you had similar difficulties with the reading thus far? If so, how have you dealt with them?

2. Has Scupoli made any points that stand out for you? Please share them with the rest of us.

 

Schedule for This Week (Keep in mind that this is approximate – if you read somewhere around that range, we’ll still be reading together):

TAN:  pg. 113-142 (to Ch. 45 Mental Prayer)

Sophia Press: pg. 101-125 (to Lift Your Heart to God in Mental Prayer)

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 SpiritualDirection.com 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 pelicansbreast.com

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  • Robert Kraus

    I absolutely agree with you that I’ve struggled with feelings of unworthiness when reading this book, Vicki. Honestly, I feel so spiritually immature compared to the others reading and commenting in the book club, as if they’re privy to something I haven’t yet discovered. It’s been a real struggle, but I persevere because I truly crave that spiritual understanding and I don’t want to give up.

    • Hang in there Robert. This is the battle you are called to. I have picked up several books and tried to read them recognizing they were beyond me. But I simply kept at it assuming that God would teach me what I needed to know and that at some time, he would teach me more than I know now. The enemy will try to discourage you away from these important truths that set us free…

      • The enemy discourages us from truths that set us? I haven’t been able to follow the book club as much as I would like, but what you wrote here reminded me of something. I have a copy of A Story of a Soul and St. Faustina’s diary. I tried reading them but stopped because I’d get horribly tempted to jealousy. And I succumb to it a number of times. I know it was the enemy because once I was tempted while trying to pray. Then I said “In the name of Jesus I cast you out.” and it disappeared. Should I try reading them again? Or stay away until I overcome this sin?

        • Interesting that you should ask this during this book club assignment. I believe that Scupoli would encourage you to engage in the reading and confront your struggles. The enemy would have you disengage, and move on to something less beneficial to your soul.

          • Thank you for the advice! I’ll try it out.

          • Robert Kraus

            Very timely, as I admit I had slacked off with my reading of Spiritual Combat. I’m going to resume reading it tonight because if I learn one thing from this particular book club session, it’s the value of perseverance. Dan, you’re the second person in 24 hours who’s mentioned the enemy and a battle over my soul. It definitely gives me pause.

          • LizEst

            That’s the beauty of this book club. By God’s grace we keep each other going. And, that’s what good spiritual friends are like. They want the best for the other…and the best is eternal happiness with God. He is all in all.

            ps. I second your comment on perseverance!

          • judeen

            scupolcty = trying to perfect your self.. on your own.. then ending up hating what God made you to be… is the sin…. trying to hard and hating your self doing it… God made us.. Jesus fell 3xs carring the cross… it was not easy or perfect… and stronge.. we are who God made us.. we do our best but can not be perfect… were human… that is how God made us…. it humbles us.. when we make mistakes or not right.. it puts us in our place… reminds us we cant do it alone or not incontrol.. God is…

        • LizEst

          If you have a Spiritual Director, I would put the question to him/her. If you don’t have a SD, perhaps now is the time to search for one. These are the types of things they can help you with. In the meantime, I think Dan’s advice is good.

          • I have one but am sometimes hesitant to tell her things. I know I shouldn’t be. I’m meeting her this Friday. Will tell her then. Thank you!

        • Becky Ward

          When you do read them again, remember that we are all different, and seek to discover what God wants YOU to learn from these saints. He wouldn’t attract you to them if there wasn’t something of value for your soul in them. 🙂 DO NOT COMPARE!! This is one of the great lessons we need to learn on this journey.

          • Thank you! I know I shouldn’t compare but its really hard not to sometimes. They love Him so much! I do anything to be able to do the same for Him!

          • LizEst

            Why don’t you make it a prayer?

            Something like: “Lord God, when I read about the saints and how much they love you, I get more than a little ‘holy jealousy.’ But, rather than become more jealous, I want to be more zealous. I desire to love you as much as they did…and more. For me, who am so small, it seems impossible. But, for you nothing is impossible. Besides which, St. Therese of Lisieux said that you cannot inspire unreasonable desires. So, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I ask you to grant me all the graces and help necessary to love you with your own love and to draw others to you as well. I make my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”

          • That’s sounds great! Thank you!!!

          • LizEst

            To God be the Glory! You’re welcome, MarytheDefender. Oh yes, and best to you in your meeting with your SD, today.

        • judeen

          the story of the soul.. I could not stand… for the life of this little girl… was so filled with things I never knew…. it seemed to me .. a very spoilt pampers kid… maybe that is how she wrote it.. after so much trial and purification.. things looked so good… sister Faustina.. I guess had a hard strick dad… a very different life… where 1 would seek God for help…. be stronge and great endurance… I think there are saints of all kinds… to touch each our lives.. and how we grew up… that God is showing us.. how to live in that life style and what we can become. if we hang in there and have great love for God

    • Becky Ward

      Ditto what Dan said. 🙂

    • Susan

      I’m with you here Robert. I crave the spiritual closeness and then after reading this book I feel ashamed of my selfish desire- that I wanted it for me and my good feelings and heavenly reward – and not for God’s glory. But how do I glorify God unless I feel I know him?? This is a true exercise. I feel mentally exhausted sometimes and have to put it down, then go back and look again and move forward. I am not as far long as I should be because I started late. The book came while I was on vacation. And this is some thing you can’t rush.
      Last night I literally had to stop, put down the book and say, “Jesus, I trust in you.”, not to obsess over my unworthiness so I could go to sleep.

      • Vicki

        Susan, Thanks for your comments. Interestingly enough, that is what my priest suggested to me when I spoke with him about the book – he said to set it down for a while and just repeat over and over to myself – “Jesus, I trust in You.” That really helped me to get a better perspective.

    • I know I am going to make a point a little different from what most have said here, but…
      I love to read, and usually have half a dozen books laying aroung that I read from. Sometimes (often?) I get started in a book that I find difficult to understand, or that I find much to meditate on and I will stop reading the book for awhile to let it “digest”. Spiritual Combat is one of those books. I began reading it probably about two years ago and only read through the section on trust God. (I know by my yellow highlighter. :)) Anyway, when I picked it up again for this book club, I read it with a different perspective. The ideas of distrust of myself and trust in God were no longer foreign to me, and I was able to move on to the next sections.
      Another thing I have noticed about my spiritual reading is that sometimes I get started on a book that is way over my head. I can’t understand anything very easily. I set the book aside, but continue my spiritual reading in other ways. Later, sometimes years later, I pick up the book and it is no longer over my head. I am able to understand and finish reading the book.
      Finally, as I said, I have lots of books laying around, and they might lay in a stack for months and I don’t pay any attention to it. But, then I will notice, and it seems like everytime I walk by that stack, the one particular book grabs my attention. I will finally pick it up and begin reading and find that, what I read was exactly what I needed to hear at point in my life. I realize that if I had read that previously I wouldn’t have been ready to recieve the information. This has happened so many times to me that I have really started paying attention

      • LizEst

        The Holy Spirit is at work…and you are attentive to those promptings! May the Lord continue to bless you in this and all things.

    • judeen

      robert… you have gifts that remind even the deepest spiritual person to stop.. regroup, think.. and seek God deeper… everyone has gifts… even if we dont see them… more and more you will reconize them as you talk and share them and use them to glorify God and help others find God… we really dont talk about a deep relation with God with others.. and how it affects our lives.. so it is new.. exciting , ,,, and the power of God amazing… and using us.. nobodys.. … to change the world into a better place.. a place that through God using us.. to help others heal and seek the Healer.. – God

  • Moleebo

    I think the reason he hammers the same points so relentlessly is because of their importance. While it is easy for people to admit they are sinners, it is something else to actually convince them how deep down at their core they are selfish and that they are justly worthy of damnation. I needed to look deeper to see how almost every action I take, every thought I think, every word I say, and every plan I make is based on my own individual desire to bring comfort, pleasure, glory and power to myself. Even the things which seem like good deeds I have found to be rooted in motives and hidden agendas to benefit myself. Discovering this is painful and it does cause despair, but the second point he makes is just as important and you have pointed it out. God can and will change us and he is the only one that can change us. We have to understand that it is not us who is going to make ourselves worthy, but Christ living in us. So we must learn (and hopefully Scrupoli will help us) how to let God change us and how to make room for him. I have read that some of the greatest Saints have struggled because they tried to change themselves and didn’t depend on God to change them. I am finding out that learning how to let God work out these things for me is part of the journey, it is sort of trial and error where God lets me make mistakes then shows them to me to help me understand. Anyway sorry this is so long, I look forward to reading others thoughts.

    • Well said. The humility that comes from this kind of awareness is what St. Theresa of Avila points out as absolutely necessary – foundational – for spiritual growth. In fact, she deals with this God-oriented self awareness in the beginning of the journey into the mansions.

    • Jeanette

      I totally agree with you and have experienced much the same as you have. Sometimes we can be so blind to our own wrong thinking. We must cultivate trust in God for He will never forsake us. God will show us either directly or through others the errors of our ways or wrong thinking. This can be painful but absolutely necessary for us to progress in the spiritual life for the ‘pain’ forces us to depend on God absolutely, to beg Him for grace to be able to fully take off our ‘blinders’ and see with His eyes. Sometimes our errors are so deep-rooted that the occasional prayer is not going to open our eyes completely. If we are really determined to progress in the spiritual life, I think it may be helpful to journal areas of weakness in our life and make a concentrated effort, with the help of God’s grace, to commit to much prayer to help us throw down these crosses, that God does not want us to carry, so that we may be set free.

  • Abandon56

    I find this quote from the book to be extremely helpful:
    “You will discern whether thoughts ought to be encouraged or banished by the confidence or distrust they inspire to be placed in the divine mercy:
    If they dictate that this affectionate confidence ought to increase continually, you are to look upon them as messengers from heaven, entertain and delight in them; but you must reject and banish, as suggestions of hell itself, all such as tend to make you in the least distrustful of his infinite goodness.”
    This is from the later chapter on peace of soul. Perhaps something to go to intermittently while reading other chapters as a reminder of the ultimate goal: trust.

    • LizEst

      Abandon56–I believe you’ve hit on something very important: discerning whether or not thoughts encourage or discourage trust (not presumption) in God’s mercy. Along with that, it is very, very important that we know ourselves. That’s not always as easy because human nature has a tendency to fool itself. Many saints had this dilemma. St. Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the Church, was alternately tempted to sadness or despair and then to pride. Back and forth it went like a yo-yo, for her, until she realized what was going on. From then on, when the devil tempted her to pride, she humbled herself. When tempted to despair, she raised her thoughts to God and put all her trust in him. Another saint, Benedict (if memory serves), whose memorial the Church celebrates tomorrow, used to say to the devil: I didn’t start this because of you and I’m not going to finish it because of you. Not to know our strengths and weaknesses makes us easy pickings for the devil. And, a spiritual director can greatly help us in this regard. Self-aware people are better equipped to deal with the assaults of the evil one and the subsequent effects in us. St. Therese of Lisieux loved to find another fault in herself. Rather than become annoyed or despondent, she rejoiced at such a discovery. She worked on that deficiency and it helped her become a better person and better able to withstand the attacks of the enemy.

      We absolutely must know how wide a gap there is between us and the infinitely knowing, powerful, loving, merciful…and humble God. It is His humility that allows us to approach Him, though we are dust. Despite our nothingness, God made it abundantly clear that He wants to share His life with us when He became human and conquered sin and death. Like St. Paul, rather than become despondent of our smallness and our vileness, we should rather rejoice “when [we] are weak [because] then [we] are strong.” It is when we are weak that “the power of Christ may dwell with [us]” since His power is made perfect in us in our weakness. (cf 2 Cor 12:9,10) Our insignificance is truly of benefit to us, for “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5).

      • judeen

        Liz ,,this was really good and you hit on something in me… we do not trust our feelings for alot of it is old wounds,. actions reactions.. also a child who never could please any one in life… will beat them selves up.. despair.. and a child who had great love , when older will go the other way.. or the tendence of the oppisite of what they were…. so on.. attomaticly… a anger or reaction can also come from a expereince… a like or dislike… a wound… used to manipulate a person.. and emotions…. to look deep within… and ask our selves why . how come.. what for.. being drawn in to look at our hearts… a purging… and also a defence for a minimpulation of the devil… when He can not manipulate you .. he will try other things… so we learn to use a sheild from small attacks. reconizing them, stopping them.. a detachment from our emotions… seeking God in a deeper way…

  • Paul

    I am not reading the book, however I would say that we all should work spiritualy as said above with great confidence in God. We should base our inner peace on finding ourselves doing our best to do what God wants from us. We cannot freeze in our spiritual growth because we fear to fall in sin or imperfection (out of vanity or so). We should see that the action we intend to do is right an has no bad consecuences as far as we can see on our daily discernment. I guess we cannot leave undone a good deed just because we feel we are going to feel proud of it and we are going to fall in vanity. We should rather try to purify our intention and do it anyway.

  • Barb

    Vicki, I read Ascent
    of Mt. Carmel by St. John of the Cross fairly recently and felt just
    like you described when I read it.
    It is so strictly ascetic I thought “How can I ever live like
    this?” I almost quit reading it
    when I came to the part that described the dangers of interpreting our
    spiritual thoughts because they could be the work of the devil as easily as
    they could be the work of God. His
    solution is to tell all these thoughts to your spiritual director and to leave
    the interpretation up to him. I
    thought “I don’t even have a spiritual director and even if I did who would
    have the time to interpret all my thoughts so I could determine the proper
    course of action?” I did finish
    the book but was disappointed that I didn’t feel I was far enough along in my
    spiritual journey to be able to put his writings into practical use. After completing the book I did
    remember that St. John did not write for the general public, rather, he was
    writing for the priests and sisters of his congregation and those for whom he
    served as spiritual director. This
    made me feel a bit better.
    The
    next book I read was Brother Lawrence’s The
    Practice of the Presence of God the Best Rule of a Holy Life. Brother Lawrence provided practical
    suggestions that I felt I could use and helped me refocus my thinking. His basic philosophy is
    straightforward. When we slip and
    fall, repent to God as you become aware of it, don’t dwell on the fall and
    return your focus to God. When we
    become are that we aren’t aware of God’s presence in our life, don’t dwell on
    it, just return to the knowledge that God is with us. With frequent practice, it will become easier to be aware of God’s presence in our lives.
    I
    was thinking of your post while I took my morning shower and recalled a time
    when I slipped and fell in the shower.
    There was no major damage done but I did land squarely on my elbow,
    which hurt for quite some time.
    The hurt reminded me of the possibility of another fall every time I’d
    enter the slippery shower.
    Eventually, the hurt healed but I always remember the dangers of a
    slippery floor, am mindful of it, and proceed cautiously.
    St. John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, and Scupoli’s words
    remind me of my fall in the shower.
    We should be aware of the ever-present dangers but we will slip and fall
    because we are human. When we do
    fall we should refocus our thoughts where they should be–the mutual love between God and us, His never ending forgiveness to those who truly
    repent, and our goal to increase our spirituality so we can be better servants
    of God. There’s no room for
    despair when I think of it this way–only hope.

    • Dear Barb – good thoughts. Though Scupoli doesn’t effect me this way. St. John can be a formative challenge – particularly outside of an wholistic understanding of his writings. On another note, I suspect that the reason that the formatting is so problematic in your comment is that you copied and pasted it into the combox either from Microsoft Word or another document software. To avoid this, simply type your reply directly into the combox instead.

      • Barb

        Thanks, Dan, I did copy and paste in an attempt to make proofreading easier. Will do better next time:)

      • LizEst

        re: formatting. I have the same problem with formatting though I type directly into the combox. So, what I do to fix that is look for it to show up, then press the edit button and try to fix it. It is time-consuming, though, because the screen that comes up for the edit is only a few lines at a time. Just thought I’d pass that along!

        • MelissaStacy

          I tried to edit my comment once, and also found I could only see a few lines at a time which was challenging (notice I say challenging and not frustrating, lol!!) I wonder if there is a way for the moderators/web site guardians to fix this?? Thank you and wishing you all a blessed day!

          • LizEst

            Thanks for posting that. Glad I wasn’t the only one with the issue. I just tried using the edit feature for something else and, voila, found more room to do so than before!

    • Vicki

      Yes. I have to keep in mind God’s never ending love and mercy while reading this book, or I become too focused on the details and forget the big picture.

  • Grace

    Thank you Vicki for your comments. I, also, am struggling with this book especially this week. I have been tempted to give it up but reading your comments has made me more willing to continue. I find it very negative. I think it would be helpful to have a spiritual director while reading it which I don’t have. Hopefully, the next book read will be easier as I like the idea of the book club.

    • Dear Grace – I am glad you are hanging in there!

    • Vicki

      Yes, Grace – please hang in there with me. We don’t have to love every word of every book we read to grow. I’m realizing that with this book, I may grow in spite of mySELF:-). And I peaked at the next chapter on virtue – I have to think we’ll be learning how to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us over the next several chapters – at least that’s what I’m hoping. Let’s find out together!

  • AnnieB

    I had no intention of joining this book club because I was swamped with work and unread books but the comments intrigued me so much I gave in and started reading 10 days ago. I am so glad I did.
    The same thoughts of impossibility assail me. How can I know that what I am doing, I am doing for the right reasons and not the wrong.
    For me, a great comfort is remembering that part of growth in any area is realising what we dont know and trying to work out a path to get there.
    I used to love running and my coach told me I ought to be able to do sub 7 min miles for a half marathon. I couldnt do one mile at this pace for ages and had to train and eat properly etc and in fact I never did achieve it over 13 miles but I did get a lot fitter and quicker.
    I guess it is about fulfilling our potential and trying. When I am struggling I also remember St Therese and her elevator metaphor and that is a comfort. If you struggle, return to the gospels for a day or two.
    Isnt this club fun?!

    • Vicki

      I love the elevator metaphor too. A friend said once it reminded her of our little children trying so hard to get up on our laps to reach something. When they struggle their way up we aways reach down and pick them up, helping them get to where they want to go. And Jesus will do the same for us.

      • LizEst

        Beautiful! Thanks Vicki.

    • One thing I remember when I start wondering about whether I am doing the right thing is this: If we are sincere in our intention – sincerely praying to God to do his will – then we cannot fail to do so.
      Many times I try to decide what to do simply by praying “Lord, I want to do your will and only your will.” and then wait for an inspiration. If the inspiration doesn’t come, then I pick something and trust that God has granted me the grace to do the right thing. I can trust him to do this because I have sincerely prayed to him about it.
      Of course, since by reading this book I have become painfully aware of my habit of sloth (procrastination), I have now added one more step to this practice. I look at my choices of activity to decide if any of the choices will allow me to aquiesce to my own slothful nature. If that is the case, then I pray again making myself painfully aware of my natural inclination for comfort and focusing on being open to God’s will and not my own comfort. In the end it comes down to trust, I trust that God will not let me make the wrong choice as long as I have been honest in my prayer.
      I don’t like it on my natural human level, but here again I also trust God to get me there.

      • LizEst

        Beautiful, Jeanie. Thanks for sharing this. I believe it will help many.

  • LizEst

    1. I have enjoyed reading Scupoli. His repeated discussion of all our woundedness and weaknesses is both healthy and annoying. It’s healthy because I can always stand to learn more about my weaknesses and faults and also ways to combat such and to combat the assaults of the devil. It’s annoying because it is so nit-picky that it borders on scrupulosity (is that where his name came from? Ha, ha!). Overall, it can be a good springboard for meditation and contemplation.

    2. He makes a small point in one place, which I’ve not heard a lot about. It’s in the section where he talks about the devil seeking to make the virtues we have acquired the occasions of our ruin. The sentence is “But take care that the end in view be solely your own humiliation and self-discipline, lest you be in any degree influenced by a certain lurking pride and spirit of presumption, which under some specious pretext or other, often causes us to make little or no account of the opinions of others.”

    I read (don’t recall where right now) that this is what is called “Black Pride,” (no, this has nothing to do with race in this context) which is the pride that says one can disregard others, that we have no need for them or what they think, that we don’t need to deal with them, that I know better than them, etc. That kind of pride cuts us off from relationship and makes one’s soul very dark indeed. It’s very contrary to the Trinitarian life which is God’s life of relationship. And, it looks not that far removed from an individualistic life (rugged individualism) lived for oneself alone. It would be great to have a post, or series of posts, on the seven deadly sins and to see, within this series, a good write up on this kind of pride that Scupoli touched on.

    ps Vicki–I recommend you tell that priest that you are leading an international book club on the internet that is reading the Scupoli book. He can assist you better if he has that information;)

    pps–Thanks to your parents for their service!

    • Vicki

      Thanks for the advice. I’ve considered discussing this club with my priest, because he would probably have a lot of wisdom for me – he is a very passionate and holy man. I appreciate your comments too. I think you are right when it comes to Scupoli. Your comments about rugged individualism are right on. Sad that it is something our country “prides” itself on.

  • quiltbugjj

    Validation!! Despair and discouragement is exactly what I have been feeling! But, when I step away from it, and read comments here, I feel better. I was initially angry, but I now realize that distrusting self is actually a good thing and I have become much more proactive at home!

    • Vicki

      I’m so glad. I’ve been trying to do the same – especially in areas where I know I’ve struggled. Of course, I’m seeing there are areas where I did NOT know I struggled as well:-).

  • Cludwick

    I am having similar reactions to the book. In fact, I haven’t read it for a while. I tend toward scrupulosity which my spiritual director and I are addressing. I haven’t been able to meet with him for a while and I think he probably would tell me not to read this book yet.
    I have decided to start again (yes, Vicki, that seems to be a great idea) but read more slowly and come back to all of the comments here thus far, so much insight! I hear Jesus speaking through all of these.
    God be with all of you. Thank you, Vicki, for leading us and your openness and thanks to the creators of this site. May it lead us onward to prasie and glory of God.

  • Bill

    I needed to read this. The depiction demonstrates an exaggeration of myself.

  • QueenofSorrows

    I am not part of your book club, but, perhaps I should be. This book was given to me by my pastor a little over a month ago. I too think it is an incredible book and have been giving it to my very Catholic and spiritual friends. I think it is very important for the times we are living in. I have been learning for several years about the “self” and how tricky it is. I have come to rely on the Blessed Mother to help guide me in my life. In fact it was She who brought me to this book.
    I don’t know who wrote the above article but, it made me laugh! The paragraph about being a 6; so true! Sometimes you do feel like Fr. Scupoli is running you in circles.
    I really like the prayer on page165. I made a copy and say it now before communion. I think it is a very good prayer to say. Perhaps some of those in your club might agree.

  • Alexandra Campbell

    I was feeling the way you all are describing two weeks ago! Maybe I’m not in the right spot since I am reading an online version. I will try to get back on track by using the chapter headings you mention above…?

  • Debora Suzanne

    I think the devil would love for you to stop reading this book! SO DON’T! It’s not about if you are holy enough to read this book; it’s about if you are willing to fight the good fight every moment.

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