The Spiritual Combat
The exercise of the will is the end
to which all interior and exterior acts should be directed.
Beyond the intellectual exercise you must do, it is
to regulate your will in like manner. This way, rather than remain left
its own desires, it will in all things behave itself in a way that
to God's approval. And take heed: it must not be enough for you to want
procure things that are pleasing to God; you must also want them and
them as if moved by him and only with the aim of pleasing him. We have
contrast here with our nature than we did in what we discussed before:
nature is so inclined towards itself that in all things, even in the
and spiritual ones (and sometimes more so than in others) it seeks its
comfort and delight. It holds on to these and goes avidly feeding for
as though they were food without suspect.
In fact when they are offered us, we quickly ogle and desire them, not
if moved by the will of God or as if we had the aim of pleasing him
but for the good and delightful sensations that come from wanting the
desired by God. This deception is all the more hidden when the desired
is better in and of itself. Hence even in desiring the same God you
deceptions of self-love, because one aims more often at one's own
and at the good that we await than one aims at the will of God, who
pleasure in his glory alone and wants to be loved, desired and obeyed
To guard yourself from this danger, which would impede your path to
and to accustom yourself to wanting and doing all as if moved by God
the pure intention of honoring and pleasing him alone (who wishes to be
one beginning and end of our every action and of our every thought), do
following. When something that is desired by God offers itself to you,
not immediately incline your will to desiring it. First you raise your
to God to see that it is his will that you desire it and that you
it because he so wishes it, and to please him alone. So moved and
by this will, bow your own will to wishing that thing as God wishes it,
only for his consent and honor.
Likewise wishing to refuse the things not desired by God, do not refuse
if you do not first fix the gaze of your intellect on his divine will,
desires that you refuse them in order to please him.
But you must know that the frauds of our subtle nature are not
ever seeking itself in hidden ways, it often makes it appear that the
motive and end of pleasing God are within us, when it is not so. Hence
frequently happens that what is wanted or not wanted for our
to us seems to be desired or not desired in order to please God.
flee this deception the proper and intrinsic remedy would be purity of
which consists in shedding the clothes of the old man and dressing
with those of the new (see Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:22-23): all of this Combat
directs itself to this end.
Nevertheless, to predispose yourself as you should, since you are full
yourself, from the beginning of your actions be attentive to shedding
as you can every mixture where you esteem that there is something of
advantage, and desire neither to do nor to refuse anything if first you
not feel yourself moved and pulled by the pure and simple will of God.
you cannot so feel this will constantly in all your actions, and
in those exterior ones that pass quickly, content yourself with having
virtually in each of them, holding always to your true intention only
please your God in everything.
But in the actions that go on for some period of time, it is good not
to excite this motive within yourself from the beginning. You must
attentive to renewing it frequently and to holding it awake until the
end: otherwise you run the danger of stumbling into another snare from
natural love. As this is inclined and bent more towards itself than
God, it frequently tends to make us change our objectives and our
over the passage of time.
The servant of God who does not pay close attention to this frequently
some activity only for the motive of pleasing her Lord, but then little
little, almost without realizing it, she begins likewise to take
in this act with her own senses. Forgetting the divine will, she
and becomes so attached to the tastes of her senses and to the
and honor that she may gain from the activity, that if God himself were
put some obstacle in its way, through some illness or adversity, or by
of some creature, she would become disturbed and unhappy. She might
times into murmuring about this and that, to say nothing of saying
about God himself. This is a very clear sign that her intention was not
in God, but was born from a root and a depth broken and corrupt. For
who moves oneself as if pushed by God and in order to please him alone
not wish the things, but wishes only to have them if it pleases God
she have them, in the way and in the time pleasing to God. Whether she
them or not she remains equally peaceful and content, since in every
accomplishes his intention, and the end follows, which was nothing
than the consent of God.
For this reason, remain collected within yourself, and attentive to
directing your actions to this perfect end. And if in this way you
move yourself to do the good with the aim of escaping the punishments
or for the hope of paradise (so seeking the disposition of your soul),
in this you can present before yourself as the ultimate end the
the will of God: he takes pleasure that you do not go to hell, but that
enter his kingdom.
The person does not exist who can completely understand how much
and efficacy this motive has, since one thing done for the will of God
for his glory, be it low or small, is worth infinitely more than many
of great esteem and value which are done without it. So a small sum
to a poor person for the sole reason of pleasing his divine Majesty is
gratifying than if someone should deprive oneself of all one's goods,
copious they may be, for some other intention, even that of enjoying
of heaven (which is an end not only good but most highly desirable).
exercise of doing all things with the pure aim of pleasing God will
arduous at first, but it will become pleasant and easy with custom,
desiring the same God many times, and with aspiring for him with lively
of the heart as our most perfect and unique good, who for himself
that all creatures should seek him, should serve him and should love
above whatever else.
How much more profoundly and more often will the consideration of the
merit of God be done, how much more fervent and frequent will be the
acts of the will, so with greater ease and quickness will we acquire
of doing every act as a sign of respect and of love for that Lord who
Finally I advise you that, in order to follow this divine objective, in
to what I have told you, you need to ask it of God with insistent
you should frequently consider the uncountable benefits that God has
for us and still does for us out of pure love and without advantage to