Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spiritual investments and dividends

I BELIEVE everyone likes to make money and really to be successful in business or in whatever endeavor he likes to get into. That desire is part of our nature, and is even sanctioned in the Bible when God told Adam and Eve to go and dominate the world. Making money is part, not of course the whole, of what is meant by dominating the world.

                I also believe that of all the businesses and endeavors we can get involved in, the most important and the one that would take care of all our other projects is that of taking care of our spiritual life.

                We need to be very good, shrewd businessmen in that area, an excellent, most creative and visionary entrepreneurs in that field. And the basis for this assertion can be that passage in the gospel where Christ says:

                “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt 13,46) 

                In another part of the gospel, Christ talks of the parable of the talents that shows how he wants all of us to profit from the gifts he has given us. (cfr Mt 25) Those who do good business with their talents would be rewarded generously. Those who do nothing with their talents would be punished.

                Obviously, like in any business, to be successful in our spiritual life, we would have to make a lot of investments. I would say that in this spiritual business, there is no danger in being lavish with our investments, since unlike in our worldly businesses, this one is sure and guaranteed, whatever may be their outcome in merely human terms.

                That basis for that assertion are the words of Christ himself when he said that we have to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s commandment that is perfected with what he calls as the new commandment: to love one another as he has loved us. And that’s a love that goes all the way to death on the cross.

                We need to be keenly aware then that everyday we should be ready to make some investments in terms of prayers, sacrifices, self-denials, development of virtues, more recourse to the sacraments, more grounding in the knowledge of our faith, etc., in view of the potential dividends we can reap later on that are already guaranteed by Christ himself.

                We should have this kind of mentality if we are truly serious with our spiritual life. Our usual problem is that we often take this duty for granted, putting ourselves many times under the delusion that we can achieve holiness only with good intentions but without the appropriate deeds.

                And this duty can be carried out any time. It can always take advantage of any situation we may be in. And since ordinarily, our situation would just involve little things and affairs of our daily routine, this duty can and should be lived in those circumstances.

                The investments needed may just be a matter of more patience, more hope and optimism when the going gets a little rough, or giving more impulse of perseverance in our prayer when we feel a bit dry and uninspired to talk with God…

                It may even be the resolution to smile more, to be more cheerful and positive in outlook and speech, if only to prop up an otherwise heavy atmosphere or drooping mood because of some unpleasant events. It may just be the resolve to give ourselves a little less comfort if only to follow what Christ said about entering by the narrow gate and avoiding the wide one.

                Sanctity, heroism and generosity need not involve extraordinary occasions to show themselves. They can and should be pursued and lived precisely in our little day-to-day affairs. That’s where we usually meet God, and where we prepare ourselves to meet and follow him when the circumstances demand extraordinary faith and effort on our part.

                Remember what Christ said: “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. And he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.” (Lk 16,10)

                Don’t you think this is the best business we can get into, since it’s what brings us to our ultimate end, and since it is very much doable and is guaranteed, besides, of success, by Christ himself?

                May we be generous with our spiritual investments then! The promised dividends are sure, tremendous and lasting.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

From lego to reality

MANY children come to me and talk very fondly about their lego toys. I must say that I had to do a little research on lego, since in my kidhood years, there were no such toys.

Thus, I discovered why they like lego so much. It’s a child’s plastic construction set to make mechanical models. It stirs their imagination and creativity, and stimulates their liking for building things and making believe. It challenges their ability to put into concrete form what they have in their mind.

They can choose either to be very faithful to the models they want to copy, or they can introduce innovations and even combinations. But still, lego is just a toy. It’s more for fun and making fantasies or science fictions. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously.

Nowadays, though, lego has acquired another meaning, a figurative reference to a make-believe world that we seem to be making in many aspects of our life. Thus, we can hear people talking about the lego world in the global economy that is supposed to be a far cry from what is really happening in that area of the world’s life.

It seems that what was not supposed to be taken seriously is now taken seriously. Fiction is now made true-to-life. Fantasy is now considered real.

Which brings us to a much deeper issue. And that is how do we correctly define reality? What is reality, in the first place? Would things in one’s imagination and dreams not qualify as part of reality?

Would reality be simply defined as anything that has physical and material existence, anything that can be measured, seen, weighed, smelled, felt, etc.? How about ideas, judgments, reasonings, values, and other abstract or non-tangible things? Would they not be considered real?

We need to tackle these questions to resolve the issue of what reality is. We are supposed to live in reality, we are supposed to be realistic, we are supposed to be and to act real, but what is reality?

With the distinction between objective and subjective, we can wonder whether one of them is real and the other not. But it would seem unfair that what is subjective would be considered wholesale as not real, just because it is subjective.

For sure, reality has infinite aspects and possibilities, because it simply does not only include material and tangible things. It also covers non-tangible things that can lend themselves to an infinity of levels, aspects, possibilities, etc.

If we just consider our ideas and what consequences, implications and possibilities they can spawn, then we would somehow be convinced that reality is indeed a very complicated thing.

I imagine that to simplify the need to effectively grapple with reality, we need to go to the very author of reality, which in the end is definitely not us, nor somebody or something else that is merely sensible or even intelligible, but a supreme, eternal being whom we consider to be God.

He is the creator and therefore is the very author of the whole of creation. In short, he is the very author of reality in all its levels, aspects and possibilities. In short, if we have to effectively deal with reality, then we need to engage ourselves with the Creator, who is God.

This would require some faith, which again should be part of reality, since this God as the creator of all things simply cannot be fully grasped by us, and yet he is real. In fact, he is the very foundation of reality, and all reality must revolve around him.

But he is beyond the world of the sensible and the intelligible. Not that he is not in the sensible and the intelligible. He is right there as he is everywhere, but he also transcends them. That’s why, we can somehow sense and understand him, but we cannot fully comprehend him.

In other words, to effectively grapple with reality involves developing in us a certain piety, a certain intimacy in our relation with God the Creator. It cannot be any other way, since ignoring him can only at best let us touch reality by mere coincidence.

Ignoring God the Creator would lead us to the great danger of having a shallow, narrow, rigid if not distorted and even wrong grasp of reality. Though these latter situations would still be part of reality, they are that part that is not supposed to be.

Vitally engaging with God our Creator, through prayer and study of his doctrine, brings us to the dynamism of reality that God himself maintains and directs both in time and eternity.


Friday, July 19, 2013

We all need to communicate

THAT’S part of our nature. As individuals and persons, we are all meant to communicate to be able to attain communion among ourselves, with the world, and most especially with God, our Creator.
     
      Our individuality by definition refers us to a genus and a species, that is, our humanity, to which we belong and to which we need to knowingly and willingly keep on maintaining and building up. Our humanity is a dynamic affair, not static.
     
      In short, our being individuals means we belong to a certain grouping since in spite of our unique existence we all share the same human nature. We would not be individuals if we are not placed in the context of a certain group, known as the species “homo sapiens.”
     
      In other words, we may be individuals, but we are not meant to be alone. “No man is an island,” as they say. We are meant to enter into a web of relations. And so we need to make the necessary adjustments in our attitudes and understanding of ourselves, and acquire the relevant skills.
     
      We need to be more aware of this distinction about ourselves, since even in our supposedly advanced age of the sciences and knowledge, we still are ignorant, confused and often wrong about the relation between our individuality and our being members of a species, and the consequent responsibilities arising from that relation.
     
      Besides, aside from being individuals that need to be related to the species, we are persons that also need to be related to the source and engine of our personhood. And that can only be a Creator who, like us, must be spiritual in the sense of being able to know and love. These powers of knowing and loving precisely enable us to enter into relations.
     
      In fact, being Creator, he must be the fullness of knowing and loving. In fact, he knows and loves us first, before we get to know and love him. We simply are sharers of that dynamism, and in the objective reality of things, we actually cannot be separated from that dynamism.
     
      God as our Creator will always be with us, and we somehow are always with him, even if we are not aware of this reality and may even go against this reality.
     
      To actuate and keep this relation between ourselves and the rest of the species of men, and between ourselves and God and the world in general, we need to communicate.
     
      Communicating can take many forms. It may be verbal, and that’s just one form. There are many other forms we can communicate with God, others and the world. In our mind and heart, in our feelings and passions, in our memory and imagination, etc., we can already communicate.
     
      But obviously, we should strive to communicate in the best way possible. That’s why, with respect to our relation with God, our usual and abiding way of communicating is by praying which can take also many forms and is done within a network of things—doctrine, sacraments, development of virtues, ascetical struggle, etc. This is how prayer thrives.

     With respect to the others, the usual way is to talk, to enter into some conversation, and hopefully into some agreement, some consensus, especially when we have to deal with our unavoidable differences and conflicts of interests, legitimate and otherwise. We should avoid being indifferent and unconcerned of the others.
     This is where we have to learn the art of dialogue that should be pursued in the context of friendship. This is very important to all of us, and everything should be done to foster the development and inculturation of this skill.
     We need to develop compassion and understanding, the art of always thinking of the others, of knowing and anticipating their needs. In fact, we have to learn how to enter into their mind and heart, not as an act of nosiness, but rather of friendship, concern and the will to help.
     That’s the reason we often have to examine the way we think. What is the usual activity of our mind and our heart? Are they just hovering around ourselves, or are they trying to go out of themselves, to reach out to the others?
     Since we cannot help but have differences and even conflicts, we should try our best that we pursue our dialogues with utmost respect for one another. We need to stick to the essentials that actually bind us together, and these essentials include humility, mercy, magnanimity, etc.
     The most important thing is that we keep our dialogues going.


Monday, July 15, 2013

“Non nova sed noviter”

THAT’S Latin for “not new things but in a new way.” Talking about the
New Evangelization, this Latin adage comes in very handy as it gives
us a clear guideline on how to go about this task that is immensely
necessary and urgent these days.

As the Year of Faith grinds to its final sprint these coming months,
we need to give fresh impulses to our duty to proclaim the gospel, the
very same old gospel preached by Christ and now taught by the Church,
but giving it new dressing, attuned to the temper of our times.

We have to do this duty right, since what good would it be if we get
fired up and do a lot of innovative and creative things and yet
missing the point? It’s like a runner who runs the fastest among many
other runners, but out of track. He will never reach the finish line.

First of all, we need to be sure of our fidelity to the doctrine of
our faith, understanding doctrine as Christ’s very own teaching that
is handed down to us in tradition, in sacred Scripture and the
magisterium of the Church.

We need to acknowledge its essentially divine and supernatural
character, without forgetting that it too has a human element that
obviously is subject to the dynamism of our human condition.

We need to study the doctrine well, convinced that we can never have
enough of it, since it is both eternal and temporal, always in need of
deepening and polishing and adapting and all that. It’s a living
thing.

We have to understand that this doctrine of our faith enables us to
get in touch with God, and to see and understand things the way God
sees and understands them. It’s indispensable for us to prosper in our
prayer, and in the task of our own sanctification, and that of the
others and of the world itself.

It does not only give us some temporal advantages. It’s not meant so
much for those, though it certainly does give us some temporal good.
It’s meant more for our eternal goal, our supernatural end of union
and identification with God whose image and likeness we are, and whose
adopted children we also are.

That’s why we should be eager to know the doctrine and excited to live
it. When we study it, let’s realize where it comes from and where it
is supposed to lead us. We are not simply dealing with theories and
hypotheses. We are dealing with the eternal Word of God, as old as
eternity and as new also as eternity.

Given that character of the doctrine of our faith, we should realize
then that it requires to be presented in ever new ways while remaining
faithful in its substance. We should be wary of simply parroting
doctrine until we make God’s word stale and dead as mud.

This obviously means that we understand and assimilate the doctrine so
well that we can talk about it freely and correctly, in the language
and style that the people of today can understand and get moved.

We need to learn how to proclaim the doctrine and God’s word to all
kinds of people—young and old, rich and poor, intellectuals and manual
workers, leaders and followers, etc.

While it’s true that each one of us has his distinctive style and way
of doing things, we should try our best to be open to all and quite
versatile. We have to learn to be all things to all men. If the young
want things done in rap or in R&B, for example, then let’s do it the
way they want it.

This is obviously possible only when we are truly with Christ, the Son
of God who became man in order to reach us and to bring us back to
God. There is no other way. Christ is the very source, pattern and end
of any effort to adapt while remaining faithful. Let’s be clear about
that.

And so, we should realize that for any new evangelization to take off
and fly, it has to be done in a positive and constructive way always,
even when we have to point out some negative things. It should also be
set in friendly and dialogal tones, never in an imposing and bitter
way.

What is also needed is that this new evangelization should be a
constant thing, not just a passing idea. It should be done all the
time and everywhere—especially in the media and now in the new
areopagus of cyberspace.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

There’s always a happy ending

WE need to be reassured of this promise, given by no less than Christ himself.  “In the world you shall have distress. But have confidence, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,32) These words should be indelible in our consciousness.

We have to learn to look beyond the present trials and challenges with the accompanying ups and downs, so that we can go through them, not escape from them, without being swallowed up by their logic that would simply pass away anyway.

What matters is what remains in the heart after going through these experiences. Are we still with God through them and after them? Is our faith strengthened? Our hope and charity as well? For as long as we are with God, our life will always have a happy ending regardless of what we may go through.

Christ has more than amply warned us about what to expect in the world if we are to follow him faithfully. “Behold I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves,” he said, already giving us a vivid idea of the contrast between a Christian life consistently lived and the world environment that still needs to be redeemed.

Let’s remember that our freedom either can catapult us to the acme of goodness or plunge us into the depth of evil and malice. We should try to be ready to face the possible worst scenario even as we strive to achieve the best of what we can be.

We should not make a big issue about the trials and challenges that will surely come our way in this life. Without denying their seriousness, of course, let us also realize more deeply that these trials and challenges cannot actually destroy our soul if we don’t allow them.

In fact, the proper attitude to have and to cultivate is that of fearlessness. Christ himself said so many times. “Be not afraid,” was a constant reassurance he told his disciples. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” (Mt 10,28) he said once, practically telling us that we can always shield the soul from anything that can happen in our body, if we want to.

And so, together with fearlessness, another trait we should try to develop is that of sportsmanship in the many and even formidable and complicated struggles we have to wage in our present life. And I would add, also a certain degree of elegance and poise, if we can still manage it especially when the going gets rough.

It’s faith and trust in God, it’s hope and a burning love for God that would enable us to do all this. It’s these theological virtues that would enable us to transcend the limits of human endurance.

If we would just rely on our common sense, our human cleverness and our sciences and arts without the support of faith, hope and charity, then for sure we would not go the distance. We would fail to share in the victory of Christ expressed in his very resurrection after a painful death of crucifixion.

Of course, neither should we abandon our common sense and all the other human powers and faculties in living out our human condition in the world. Doing so would be tantamount to tempting God and to falling into mere fideism that can assume many forms such as superstition, quietism, idealism, etc.

Christ told us very clearly that we need to be shrewd, clever and astute like serpents but simple, harmless and innocent like doves. It’s quite a combination, possible only when one is truly with Christ. Otherwise, we open ourselves to the possibility of some psychological disorder.

We should never be na├»ve in the things of the world, but neither should we become cynical and skeptical, overly worried or too concerned. A certain sense of detachment and abandonment is always healthy. God’s providence never fails.

In the story of Joseph and his brothers, we can learn how the evil intended by Joseph’s brothers resulted in some good in the sense that Joseph came out saving his brothers and the whole clan from hunger. Much more than that, the evil inflicted on him occasioned many virtues like forgiveness and magnanimity.

Joseph finally brought about reconciliation and unity in the whole family, making his father, Jacob, who was grieving for so long after the loss of Joseph, extremely happy at the end of his life.

There’s always hope no matter how ugly things may appear now. There’s always a happy ending, if not now, then later.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Joy in this vale of tears



WE have to learn how to find joy in this world that is often called a vale of tears. We cannot escape from disappointments and frustrations in this world, to say the least. And we even have good basis to expect great suffering and painful contradictions.

Finding joy is a matter of choice. If we want it, we will have it. If we look for it, we surely can find it. What we have to avoid is the attitude of simply waiting for it to come. More than that, we have to make sure that our understanding of joy is the right one.

We should dodge the many bogus but showy, noisy and seductive ones that proliferate around. They at best can give only some measure of escapism, but not real joy. We should ward off feelings of envy toward those who may appear to be enjoying life because of these false causes of joy.

So we should try our best to exert the effort to look for the true reason for joy that can express itself in many, very varied ways. Let’s avoid being casual or cavalier about this task. With current world conditions that burden us with many pressures and problems, our laxity in this duty to find joy can be very costly, even fatal.

To put it bluntly, true joy is matter of being with God. We cannot have it any other way. Joy derived simply from some earthly and temporal good or value does not last. It may appear to last for quite a while, as sometimes happens. But it certainly will not last forever. It simply does not have what it takes.

Joy as a product of being with God will certainly involve some suffering in this life of ours in this world. We can only have the joy of bliss, of pure happiness in heaven. But in this life, our joy will always be accompanied by the cross.

At least three reasons can explain that. First, our natural human condition alone generate tension due to the many parts and aspects of our life that we need to coordinate and integrate.

Second, our nature has been wounded by sin that in itself already causes all kinds of suffering, from the most simple ones to the most complicated and ultimate one, like death.

Third, coping with the consequences of sin, trying to recover what we think is our original state proper to us, attempting to heal what is wounded, certainly inflicts some pain to us also.

Yet, in all these, we can always manage to find joy if we only know how. And that is to be with God who makes himself available to us by sending his Son to become man, Jesus, and who in turn has left us his very own self through the Holy Spirit respiring in the doctrine of faith, the liturgy, especially the Holy Eucharist, and the Church in general.

Only in Christ would we know how to derive meaning and joy in the many predicaments we can encounter in life. Christ shows us how to live our life in this world. It will always be a life of joy in spite of, and even because of, the pains and sufferings.

How important it is therefore to have an intimate relationship with him, by being familiar with his teaching and with the example of his life, as well as by getting into a very personal relationship with him through prayer and the recourse of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.

The goal to reach for us is to assume the very mind of Christ, to such a point that we can echo what St. Paul once waxed lyrical about: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)

It is precisely this identification with Christ that St. Paul was led to say: “Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.” (2 Cor 12 9-10)

We should do our best to acquire this mind of Christ. This is not indulging in some kind of megalomania. Christ himself would require us to be humble, simple and patient. It’s precisely in being humble and simple that we can aspire to receive the very power of God.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The state of our soul



WE need to take care of our soul. We have to learn how to do that in a day-to-day manner, even moment-to-moment. We have to remember that it is the soul, more than the body by itself, that gives and sustains us in life.
     
      But how do we take care of our soul? What criteria can we use to determine whether our soul is healthy or not, in good state or not? And how can we distinguish between the soul and the body? Many of us ask those questions, if not explicitly, then implicitly. That’s why we need to know more about this most basic and crucial aspect of our life.
     
      We have not much problem with respect to our body or our physical and biological organism, since a lot of sciences are dedicated to that. But dealing and caring for our soul is another story. It’s a very tricky affair indeed.
     
      Our soul is spiritual. We can say so because we are capable of spiritual operations, like thinking, knowing, learning, wanting, choosing, loving, etc. We consider these operations as spiritual because even if they make use of some organs and senses and other material things, in the end these operations make use of ideas, judgments, reasoning that are immaterial or spiritual.
     
      In short, we take care of our soul by taking care of our thoughts, desires, preferences, choices, loves, etc. The quality of our thoughts, ideas, judgments, conclusions, etc., determines the quality of our soul.
     
      The questions to ask are: where do our thoughts, judgments and reasonings, etc., begin and end? Where are they founded or grounded? What motivates and moves them? Where are they oriented?
     
      Our problem is that we are not quite aware of our duty to engage and focus these spiritual operations properly. We just allow them to be moved by what we consider as “what comes naturally,” that often is nothing other than the impulses of the flesh, world trends, and other material and external things that hardly capture the essence of things.
     
      Worse, we have come to a point where many of us are influenced by schools of thought, philosophies and ideologies that are inspired by these impulses of the flesh, world trends and other material and external values.
     
      Among these questionable ideologies are some, not all, brands of liberalism, capitalism, communism, modernism, traditionalism, liberation theology, socialism, naturalism, etc. It might be good to know these isms and acquire the skills of discerning their different manifestations and expressions, many of them subtle and very deceiving.
     
      These ideologies certainly contain many good things. They cannot stand and prosper if they don’t have good, beautiful and true things. But we just have to be wary of the subtle distortions, errors, confusing elements and the rotten spirit that may inspire them.
     
      Our thoughts, desires, judgments, reasonings, etc., should be fundamentally based and ultimately oriented toward faith, hope and charity, the theological virtues that are divine gifts meant to connect us with God as we go through the different stages and situations in our life.
     
      God is everything to us. He is much more than the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water the drink. He is everywhere and governs all aspects of reality, since he is the creator of all. Obviously, we as creatures, even if we have been created in his image and likeness, cannot expect to know everything about him. But we have to realize that we need to be with him all the time.
     
      We have to train our thoughts and desires, our loving and all the other spiritual operations we do to spring from faith, hope and love of God and to orient everything to him. We have to be wary of our tendency to get entangled with simply human and natural aspects of our life.
     
      These human and natural aspects, if not vitally linked with God, would have no other way but to go haywire sooner or later. And that’s what we are seeing these days. In fact, that’s what we are seeing since the fall of our first parents in Paradise.
     
      We need to do something about this, starting with our own selves. One thing we can do is to make a daily examination of conscience just before going to bed. Let’s see to it that we end the day reconciled with God in our mind and heart, irrespective of how the day went.
     
      Then let’s train ourselves to refer everything to God, whether they be good or bad, humanly speaking.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sharpening our charity

“I DID not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 1,13) That’s quite clear. Christ came to save all men. That’s what’s always in his mind. While not neglecting anyone, he however gives some special attention to the sick, the weak, the sinners.

            It’s an attitude that we should also have. We cannot think that we can just get contented with loving a few people, or even a lot, but not all. We have to love everyone if we want to be consistent with our Christian identity. We even have to love our enemies, as Christ himself commanded us.

            Love has a universal scope. And it’s given without measure. We can never say enough of it. These are truths that we need to chew on slowly and deliberately, for many are the elements in us and around us that would tend to undermine them.

            We always have preferences and biases. We have pet peeves. We are always subject to certain conditionings, cultural, social, political, that somehow put limits in our concern for the others.

            These are natural things that are unavoidable. But it doesn’t mean that we just get stuck there. We have to go beyond them, or above them. And we can do that because our spiritual nature and the grace of God allow us to go beyond these conditionings.

            It would be good to acknowledge as clearly and as strongly as possible these conditionings, but we should also as clearly and as strongly do something so that we can go beyond them. Insofar as God’s grace is concerned, it will never be lacking. What is needed is our generous correspondence to this grace.

            Thus, we need to consciously sharpen our charity, using all the means—material, human, spiritual, supernatural—to make it reflect and act out God’s very own love. Remember that Christ himself gave us the new commandment, which serves as the summarizing and perfect commandments, to love our neighbour as he loves us.

            And how does he love us? Aside from creating us and endowing us with the best of things—we have been created in his image and likeness and, with his grace, adopted children of his—he has given us his mercy in return to our disobedience and sinfulness, a mercy he acted out by offering his life on the cross.

            That’s the supreme act of love, for Christ himself said that “No man has greater love than he who lays down his for his friends.” (Jn 15,13) And that love abides, because that life-offering kind of love is made a sacrament that he himself commanded us to renew till the end of time.

            How important therefore that we be theological in our attitude toward this duty. We cannot rely simply on our emotions and other external factors and conditionings. Neither can depend solely on our own will. We have to have the force of grace that made available in the doctrine of our faith and in the sacraments.

            We need to be more serious with our duty to love. We have to make it more specific, more direct, more refined, more enduring. It has to be more and more universal.

            Yes, we do it in stages, going through the stages of eros, filia and agape, and starting with those close to us and radiating to ever widening circles of people, but we just have to be persevering in it, even if it suffers variation of pace and even if it strays from its proper path from time to time.

            What can help is to assume a pro-active attitude toward this duty to love. We should not wait for some inspiration, nor for the others to prove that they deserve our love. We have to love them a priori, and all the way, putting more impulses to make that love always active. We need to reinforce it with an endless supply of theological motives.

            Imagine how the world would be if we just put our mind and heart toward this duty to love, which actually summarizes all our duties and responsibilities toward everybody.

            We need to overcome that primitive thinking that being serious with charity would make us soft and mushy and all that. The contrary is true. Love would make us strong as it demands us nothing less than willingness to be patient and tolerant, to suffer, to forgive, to reconcile, to step on our own ego, the logic of our flesh and the false values of the world. It’s not afraid of death.

            Let’s always sharpen our charity.


Regular maintenance

JUST as we need to daily eat, drink and rest to keep us going for the day, we also need to daily nourish our spiritual life to keep us alive and effective in the many spiritual and moral challenges we have everyday.

As we all know, our life is not just a series of physical activities, or merely social, economic, political affairs, etc. Underlying all these things is the spiritual and moral dimensions that spring from our own very nature as man, as persons, as children of God.

Just as we need to regularly recharge our new gadgets to keep them functioning for a period of time, we also need to recharge ourselves spiritually to keep ourselves fit for the many tasks we need to do our whole life through.

We have to be more aware of this need to pray, offer sacrifices, avail of the sacraments, develop virtues and the skill to tackle our weaknesses and repel the temptations, since these are the means to keep ourselves spiritually and morally capable, strong, resistant.

At the moment, I feel that we need to issue a kind of general alert regarding this crying need, because it has been for too long neglected. As a consequence, we now have a great majority of the populace all over the world starving, emaciated and weak spiritually and morally, even as they may appear to be physically strong, and socially and professionally well-placed and successful.

Let’s start with prayer. We have to spend some time everyday doing serious prayer, which is an effort to consciously connect ourselves with God. This is what gives us an eminently spiritual and supernatural tone to our thoughts and desires. Otherwise our outlook will mainly be worldly and temporal.

Prayer enlarges and deepens our vision of things, since being a conversation with God, prayer would make us tend to see things the way God, the creator and ultimate lawgiver of the universe, sees them.

Daily periods of serious prayer would therefore ground us firmly on our true nature and dignity which is often swept and carried away by all sorts of currents of conditioning we have in the world, be they social, economic, political, cultural, etc.

Let’s remember that our life always has to contend with several conditionings. We cannot avoid them. They are part of our human situation, what with all the limitations we have.

These conditionings are actually meant to facilitate the attainment of our true end. But we need to be careful with them, since if indiscriminately used, they can compromise even our very nature.

Daily periods of serious prayer give us a sense of purpose, meaning and direction and a sense of unity in our daily activities. Otherwise, we tend to be “torn between two lovers,” as a song would have it, or even a multiplicity of lovers, such that we become promiscuous and fidelity would have no attraction to us anymore.

The general problem we have right now is precisely about this lack of sense of purpose and unity, this lack of commitment and fidelity, and at the same time, a surge of promiscuity, etc. We tend to be short-sighted and narrow-minded, perhaps fit only in some aspects of our life, but not in all, and especially in what is most important about us.

At best, many of us simply rely on our common sense, on our knowledge of the sciences and arts, and on other resources, privileges and advantages that we may enjoy at the moment. But we fail to rely on the one who is the source of everything.

We have to spread the good news about prayer more widely, more systematically, more effectively. We have to explain a lot about it, to draw out its sublime beauty and our extreme need for it.

More importantly, we need to be practicing models of prayerful souls, by whom the others can get inspired and moved to pray. Especially in the context of the family and homes, the parents should lead their children by example on how to pray.

In the schools, the same thing should happen. Teachers should teach children how to pray both in words and in action. In the offices too and other places of work, the role of prayer should be given its due emphasis. To be sure, prayer enhances rather than impedes our work.

We just have to learn how to organize ourselves better to be able to integrate all our concerns, both spiritual and material, in their proper hierarchy. Our daily prayer should help us find ways of how to sanctify every part of our day.