GeE 158: Spiritual Combat, Vigilance, And Discernment

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A typically Jesuit theme involves the reality of struggle in the Christian life. Something that requires the soldiery of a saint like Ignatius. Chapter Five will carry us through the themes of spiritual combat, vigilance, and the all-important discernment.

158. The Christian life is a constant battle. We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.

Ignatius was a soldier, so he understood the striving for holiness in terms of battle. We look for familiar strains in the unfamiliar. Other non-military traditions are not ignorant of what a struggle the Christian life can propose for us in our lives. As a pacifist-leaning Christian I can appreciate the concepts given here, even if I don’t need to take them into open warfare.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to GeE 158: Spiritual Combat, Vigilance, And Discernment

  1. Liam says:


    1. Monasticism, especially the kinds heavily influenced by origins with the Desert Fathers, has a long trail of reflection on spiritual combat in the sense of ἀγωνία (agōnía) – from athletic sense of ἀγών (agṓn – contest) – not involving military or naval hosts, but two persons or within a person, as it were.

    2. Ego-needs and grandiosity can readily play spoil-sport when engaged in this kind of combat. Self-dramatization about this combat can be a red-flag that the spoil sports are along for the ride.

    3. Which reminds me of the apt observation of C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”: “I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies upon your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.”

    4. Which is probably why the most influential homily of my life remains one from 45+ years ago in my childhood, a single-sentence homily (bracketed by silence) about the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican that can serve as a condensed symbol of the problem Lewis diagnosed above: “I wonder how many of us here are thanking God that we are not like that Pharisee.”

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