The first goal of spiritual combat?

If you’re like me, one of the things that you battle–especially during a season like Lent–is discouragement.  You just keep failing at whatever.  Fr. Jacques Philippe, as always, has something encouraging to say, something doable.

The real spiritual battle, rather than the pursuit of invincibility or some other absolute infallibility beyond our capacity, consists principally in learning, without becoming too discouraged, to accept falling occasionally and not to lose our peace of heart if we should happen to do so lamentably, not to become excessively sad regarding our defeats and to know how to rebound from our falls to an even higher level.  This is always possible, but on the condition that we not panic and that we continue to maintain our peace.

One could, then, with reason, enunciate this principle: The first goal of spiritual combat, that toward which our efforts must above all else be directed, is not to always obtain a victory (over our temptations, our weaknesses, etc.), rather it is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat.  It is only in this way that we can pursue the other goal, which is the elimination of our failures, our faults, our imperfections and sins.  This is ultimately the victory that we must want and desire, knowing, however, that it is not by our own strength that we will obtain it and, therefore, not pretending that we can obtain it immediately.  It is uniquely the grace of God that will obtain the victory for us, whose grace will be the more efficacious and rapid, the more we place maintaining our interior peace and sense of confident abandonment in the hands of our Father in heaven.

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