The season of Lent is meant for sharpening our skills in spiritual warfare. This should be foremost in our mind as we go through the highly recommended acts of penance and mortification during these days of Lent.
We cannot deny that our life here on earth is an endless struggle between good and evil, between obeying God's will and following our own will, etc. Our freedom is such that we can choose to be God-like, as God our Creator wants us to be and has endowed us with all the means, or we can prefer to be by ourselves, whichever way our will tilts.
This 40-day period that leads to the commemoration of Christ's supreme act of loving us by saving us through his passion, death and resurrection is the best occasion to learn and improve in our skills in dealing with our weaknesses, temptations and sins.
As we pass through another year of trying to be faithful to God, we must have gained more insights, lessons and experiences regarding our weaknesses and failures. We should consider them in God's presence and see what we can do to tackle them more effectively.
One thing for certain is that all this need for spiritual struggle is first of all a matter of growing in our love for God and for others. Our spiritual health, strength and invincibility will depend mainly on this requirement. Everything else that we need to do to protect ourselves from all forms of evil should begin with a vibrating love for God and for others. Without this, we make ourselves easy prey to the enemies of our soul.
And this love for God and others can be nourished every time we pray or we make acts of faith, hope and charity, or when we carry out the duties of our state in life, our profession and other positions we have in society, with gusto.
We need to see to it that at any given time, we are at least conscious that all we are doing is really out of love for God and for others. We should not take this point for granted. When this motivation for our thoughts, words and deed is not clear and strong, then we are giving an opening for our enemies — our own flesh, the alienated world and the devil himself — to take advantage of us.
Perhaps, one concrete way to handle this requirement well is to pause from time to time during the day to recover our proper spiritual and supernatural bearing, seeing to it that it is real love that motivates and drives us into action.
Having said that, we should do the consequences and implications of such love. We have to discipline our wounded flesh that is so inclined to concupiscence. This concupiscence can be in the form of the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. We have to realize that this will be a lifelong struggle. We should banish the myth that there can be a time or a state where we can be exempted from all these.
Then we have to learn how to deal with the world and the devil himself. With the world, we have to be most prudent by learning to distinguish between what is inherently good in it and what is already corrupted by sin and therefore can be dangerous. We have to make the appropriate plans and strategies for this.
With the devil, Pope Francis recently advised us not to argue with him, since he is much more clever than us. We just have to avoid him, cutting any dialogue with him as soon as possible. Truth is we hardly have any good resistance to his apparently convincing sophistries.*
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