Our life in a nutshell can be summarized with these words. We need to say ‘Yes’ always to God, and ‘No’ to the enemies of God and of our soul, namely, our weakened flesh, the sinful allurements of the world, and the devil himself.
If we follow by this divine dictum, for sure our life will be made simpler and happier, meaningful and fruitful, because then we would be living our life according to God’s will and ways, which is proper to us since our life is meant to be a life with God.
This means that we have to know God very well, something that we can do— of course, in a gradually progressive way—by reading the gospel and availing ourselves of the other sources of our faith.
Such knowledge would transform us and prod us to conform our thoughts, words and deeds to God’s will and ways. We would know what things are from God and what things are not.
We therefore can never exaggerate this need of knowing God as best as we can. We need to do everything to develop a systematic way of growing in our knowledge of God.
It’s important that we be quick to distinguish between what are God’s and what are not God’s. Especially in these days of rapid developments when the line between good and evil is getting blurred and grayish, and the forces of good and evil are in such constant battle as to often leave us confused and bewildered, we need to develop a sharp sense of discernment.
Of course, it should be a sense of discernment that is effective in the context of a very dynamic world. We are not anymore living in a simple world where black is black and white is white, where innovations are threatening to wipe out traditions, where a growing culture of relativism is undermining the legitimacy of the absolute.
And one good way of developing this sense of discernment is to follow what Christ himself suggested to his disciples once: “If anyone wants to be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24)
We need to say ‘Yes’ to this command of Christ and learn to say ‘No’ to ourselves. This means that we have to conform our will to Christ’s will and to say ‘No’ to our own will. We have to remember that our will that is not in conformity with Christ’s will is a will that is out on a limb. Sooner or later it will only do evil and end badly.
We have to concretize this ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in our life. We have to say ‘Yes’ to a time of prayer, recourse to the sacraments, generosity in sacrifices, continuing development of virtues. We have to say ‘No’ to all forms of self-indulgence no matter how legitimate these forms of self-indulgence may appear to us.
We have to say ‘Yes’ to love of God and others, fidelity to our vocation, responsibility to our duties, recourse to continuing means of formation, no matter the effort and discomfort they may involve. We have to say ‘No’ to impulse buying and impulse access to the Internet and the new technologies.
In the latter case, it might be a good idea to put clear limits, like opening the cell phone once or twice per hour only, or to put it away when we are already in bed which should be a time of intense prayer and presence of God.
We have to say ‘Yes’ to the clear indication of our conscience and ‘No’ when we start to haggle, bargain, argue with our conscience and start to rationalize. Temptations should be shot down immediately, not giving it any foothold…/WDJ