Thursday 26 December 2019

The Spiritual Combat - Verneable Lorenzo Scupoli

The Spiritual Combat
Verneable Lorenzo Scupoli
V. Rev. Fr. Gregory Bellarmine (Editor)
Christian Books Today Ltd
ISBN 9781907436420
Wyatt North Publishing

I have recently read this book with a Catholic Book club. I read two different editions based on two different translations from the Italian. I found out when I started my review that one of those two editions is no longer available. My review is a synthesis of my reactions to both versions. And there are many, many more editions available in English both as physical books and even more as eBooks. In fact, I counted over 20 English editions available at the time of writing this review.

Some of the various subtitles to English editions include:
How to Win Your Spiritual Battles and Attain Inner Peace
And the Path to Paradise
to Which Is Added the Peace of the Soul, Thoughts on Death, and of Penitence.

In the description of one of the volumes I read it states:

“To date, there are as many as 600 editions of The Spiritual Combat.

The Combat is a practical manual of living. At first it teaches that the sense of life is incessant fighting against egoistic longings and replacing them with sacrifice and charity. The one who does not do this loses, and suffers in Hell; the one who does it, trusting not in his own, but God's power, triumphs and is happy in Heaven.”

The other edition describes it as:

“How do I actually overcome temptation? What is it to be a Soldier of Christ today? What is Christian Meditation and how do I begin? How to I acquire a virtue such as apostolic courage? This is the book St. Francis de Sales carried with him everywhere. Scupoli's hard-hitting teaching brought the great preacher to holiness and it can do the same for us today! Revised and diligently compared to the originals and other major translations, we hope our brand new version will become a classic in its own right. Our edition is also the size of a Hard Cover for easy reading.”

Some editions have named chapters and some just numbered chapters.But both of the editions I have contain 66 chapters. This work was originally written in 1589, we are told that it had 60 reprintings in the first 20 years.  We are also informed that it was translated into German, Latin, French, English and Spanish. And later into Portuguese, Croatian, Polish, Armenian, Greek (by Nicodemus the Hagiorite), Arabian, and Japanes.

I believe that the description of it as a practical manual is one of the best. It is one of those books you could read over and over again and always benefit from the reading or rereading. On of the passages that really hit me, was:

“When walking, remember that every step brings you nearer to death.

Let the flight of birds and the flowing of water remind you that your life is hastening far more swiftly to its close.

Let storms of wind, lightning and thunder, remind you of the tremendous day of judgment; and kneeling down, worship God, and beseech Him to give you time and grace duly to prepare yourself to appear before His most high Majesty.”

The same passage in the other edition is:

“When walking, think how each step brings you one nearer to death.

Let the birds in the air, and the water in the stream, remind you that your life even with greater swiftness is hurrying on to its close.

Let violent storms of wind, peals of thunder, and flashes of lightning bring you to the thought of the awful Day of Judgment; and on your bended knees worship God, and pray for grace and time to make due preparation for your appearing before His Supreme Majesty.”

It reminded me a lot of the Memento Mori books by Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble. This book comes highly recommended by saints, popes and heroes of the faith. The only thing I can add to their endorsements is to encourage and challenge you to give at lest one translation a read. I am certain it will challenge you, encourage you, and give you tools for better living out your faith.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli:
The Spiritual Combat
Treatise on Peace of Soul
Virtue in the Unseen Warfare
The Way of the Cross
Of Interior Peace or The Path to Paradise
The Christian Pilgrim in His Spiritual Conflict, and Conquest
Unseen Warfare
Of Penitence


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