In other posts I have mentioned the similarity between the admission of powerless and unmanageability in the 12 Steps of AA and the essential foundation of the spiritual combat as Dom Lorenzo Scupoli describes in the treatise, “The Spiritual Combat.”
The genius of this book is not simply that it reflects this perennial truth of the spiritual life, i.e. that humility is the foundation, but offers a method whereby to grow in it.
I often hear men despair after a fall, or they coddle themselves. Neither are helpful, there is a lesson in a fall – use it to grow in distrust of self!
Find where self-reliance and self-trust asserted itself so that it can be further eliminated. Trust in God must take its place ultimately, but through a concrete action-based approach.
But, first, Scupoli lists 4 means of acquiring what he refers to as an eminent virtue, distrust of self.
How to obtain distrust of self:
First we must meditate on our own weakness.
Second. We must beg of God for it with great humility.
Third. “We must gradually accustom ourselves to distrust our own strength, to dread the illusions of our own mind, the strong tendency of our nature to sin, and the overwhelming number of enemies that surround us”.
Fourth. “As often as we commit a fault, we must examine ourselves in order to discover our vulnerable points.”
1) Spend 20 minutes in silence meditating on distrust of self. Look for evidence where self trust precipitated a relapse. Make note of these. Look also for other signs of powerlessness in respect to the addiction.
Do you see a progression to it? Can you see the slavery to sin in the one sin? Write this down. List at least ten convincing signs that you ought not rely on your own strength in respect to this compulsion.
Then, share it with your spiritual director, sponsor, mentor, or priest confessor (not with your spouse or friend).
2) After a fall (hint – don’t wait for a major one) discover your weak points. List them on a something small. Memorize them, keep them in your wallet. Meditate upon them when out in public so that you may not lapse due to forgetfulness of your condition.
3) Ask God to inspire you each morning that throughout the day you would recognize when you are tending toward self-reliance instead of reliance on His power and graces. Set your clock that once per hour you may turn to Him and renew this intention and remain in His Presence.