We should not take this need for granted. We have to continually update and upgrade our vigilance skills. Remember Christ telling his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life…Be vigilant at all times.” (Lk 21, 34.36)
Times are constantly changing. Although we are told that nothing is new under the sun, still we cannot deny that there will always be new developments that will require us to upgrade our skills in handling them, knowing how to take advantage of the benefits they give and to avoid the dangers they also pose.
Truth is the many developments today, while giving us a lot of advantages and conveniences, can also easily lead us to bad things. They can foster complacency, self-indulgence, vanity, pride, greed, envy, discord, etc. They can turn us into materialistic monsters, totally insensitive to the spiritual and supernatural realities of our life and to God himself.
We should never underestimate the tricks and snares of the devil, the false allurements of the world, and the dynamic of our weakened and wounded flesh. These enemies of our soul will constantly make new guises to mislead and tempt us. To upgrade our vigilance skills is not a matter of paranoia. It is to be realistic. It is to be effectively prudent.
We should not be naïve to think that with our current skills at spiritual and moral vigilance, we are already okay. We have to sharpen our sense of purpose in life, seeing to it that its general goal is being consistently lived and reinforced in the many subsidiary purposes we have during the year, month, week, day, and even hour.
With how things are now, we cannot simply rely on a generic sense of purpose. We have to learn how to be vigilant in all circumstances and situations in life, especially when we are tired, troubled, or when thrilled and excited.
This should be done without getting nervous or unduly tense. Yes, there should be alertness always, as is proper to any watchful person, but it should be an alertness that is compatible with naturalness, one that goes together with peace and joy, knowing that in the end, God is always in control of everything.
We cannot deny the fact that cases of good people turned bad and corrupted by the new things are growing. Just look at those allegations of clerical sexual abuses, for example. We should not allow this trend to go on.
We need to hone our skills at smelling possible dangers in things that we cannot avoid in life. We are always exposed to these dangers and we should know how to nip these dangers in the bud. We have to know what means we can use to protect ourselves from them.
It would surely help us a lot if we know how to have presence of God all the time, if we are always inspired by love for God and for others in whatever we do. We should avoid self-seeking in our activities, not allowing ourselves to be seduced by the false and instant pleasures this self-seeking attitude gives us. This self-seeking attitude has no sufficient defenses when an indecent image suddenly pops up on the screen, for example.
We have to learn how to discipline ourselves — our thoughts, desires, imagination, memory, our feelings, emotions and passions. This should be a normal practice. The habit of self-denial should be mastered properly. We have to know how to say no immediately when some unexpected temptation passes our mind. We have to learn how to distance ourselves from these temptations.
What can also help us in this is the recourse to regular spiritual direction and confession that is preceded by a good and thorough examination of conscience. In this, we should be very transparent and sincere, so that we can truly identify our weak spots and receive the appropriate help.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (firstname.lastname@example.org)/WDJ