We need to be careful not to restrict the relevance of maintenance to health reasons. The duty of maintenance has a much wider applicability in our life than is usually known or admitted. In fact, it's a lifelong responsibility.
We have to say this, because somehow it has become a term associated only with the oldies, and even with some young ones, who have some medical conditions—hypertension, diabetes, etc. This is a very unfair, partial and dangerous understanding of maintenance.
For example, maintenance is indispensable in the proper running of an entity or institution. How many times have we heard - and have been disappointed - that a certain project that had a brilliant beginning folded up precisely because of lack of maintenance?
This example can be multiplied endless times. Roads, bridges, buildings are rotting away because of lack of maintenance. A business enterprise gets bankrupt, again because of negligence. Public services are found wanting also because of lack of good governance.
Even religious institutions are not spared. Some are fading away, their original charism weakened, because of lack of fidelity of the members. They have detached themselves from the source of their life, purpose and direction.
It's important that we cultivate a strong, clearly articulated culture of maintenance and governance, continuity and fidelity, so that we don't waste what we already have. In fact, we have to make use of them, cultivating them in an organic way, in our pursuit for progress and development.
We have to understand that this culture of maintenance is an expression of our cooperation in God's abiding providence over us and everything that happens in the world.
Divine providence, which is God's governance over his creation, always requires our active cooperation. It never means we can be passive about things. God governs through us, who are his image and likeness, children of his who participate in his very own life and work.
And so, we have to realize that this culture's real foundation can ultimately be in the area of religion, in our relation with God. It cannot simply be anchored on purely human reasons - personal, social, economic, political, etc.
While these human reasons are unavoidable, we have to understand that they cannot stand on their own without being rooted on a deeper foundation, which can only be God.
All this concern about maintenance, governance, administration, continuity and fidelity need the animating principle of God, the beginning and end of all things, the Creator, the eternal being who is also a father to us who never lets us down.
We have to be wary of a secular, worldly view about what can motivate and keep us in the duty of maintenance. It can have very many convincing arguments, but the moment it sets God aside, giving him, at best, only a decorative role, we would be in the wrong track.
When a genuine living relation with God is achieved, our awareness of our duty of maintenance, continuity and fidelity acquires its most fundamental and reliable source and lifeblood.
It makes us keenly aware of the many aspects and requirements of this duty, capable of making long-term plans and strategies as well as flexible enough to cope with changing and unexpected circumstances. It tries its best to avoid a short-sighted vision of things and other stop-gap measures and knee-jerk reactions.
In short, we would be doing all the tasks of maintenance out of pure love for God and for souls. The virtue of prudence will be lived to the hilt.
The duty of maintenance then becomes an exciting adventure, with all the possible situations that can happen. But there's confidence and sense of security among those involved.
With that love, we would be willing to go all the way, not afraid of sacrifices to be made, effort and expenses to be spent, etc. If corrections are needed, then they are done, irrespective of who gets hurt.
The problem is that many of us still find it corny to put God and love in this equation. We prefer to remain in the humanly advantageous level—what is profitable, practical, popular, etc. This only shows lack of faith, or a faith not well digested and assimilated.
With this attitude, we immediately narrow and impoverish our idea of maintenance and governance. And sooner or later, we get what we deserve—troubles, failures, disappointments, termination, etc.
It's important that we cultivate and spread this culture of maintenance far and wide. Its rudiments can be done in the families, in schools, churches. Then it can radiate its influence in our neighborhood, our cities and the government.*
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