WE have to understand this very well. Our life is always a work in progress. God, our Creator and Father, draws us slowly to himself, giving us all the means we need, but always expecting our cooperation. He does not want to impose his will on us, because like him we are free. We have to do things freely, that is, with love.
In other words, we are expected to go through some process of growth in our identification with God. We may call this process as spiritual growth, since our identification with God passes through our spiritual life before it expresses itself in our bodily life.
By spiritual life is meant how our intelligence and will are used. They enable us to know and love, and thus enter into the lives of others and especially of God, who is actually the first, last and constant object of our knowledge and love. Itâ€™s our intelligence and will, when properly engaged with God, that we can say we are truly in love, truly free.
But given our wounded nature, crippled by our sinfulness, by our tendency to abuse our freedom, we have to understand that our spiritual growth can only take place when we are willing to go through a series of continuing conversions.
The story of our first parents, and of everyone since, continues to take place in our lives. In spite of what God has given us, we tend to get spoiled. We can even go to the extent of forgetting God almost completely, and to dare to disown him and to go against him.
It is this fact of life that we should be most aware of, and strive, with Godâ€™s grace always, to do everything to react to it properly. No matter how much we think that we are already good or that we already can count on a formidable array of virtues and accomplishments, we should never forget our weaknesses and sinfulness.
We should avoid at all costs from falling into complacency, self-satisfaction, and worse, self-righteousness. These corrupt whatever good we may already have accomplished. These are a constant danger to all of us. No one is exempted from this danger. And we should be ready to do battle against them.
And so, we have to understand that our spiritual growth can only take place when we acknowledge our weaknesses and sinfulness, and then do something about them. The moment we think we have no weakness, no temptation, or no sin to tackle, we actually have a big problem.
Our spiritual growth cannot just be a matter of accumulating one good thing after another. In the context of our wounded human condition, our spiritual growth can only take place when the good we attain comes as a result of an evil that we manage to overcome. Our strength can only come after conquering a weakness.
In other words, our spiritual growth is like an upward spiral of good defeating evil, of strength deriving from weakness. Thatâ€™s because even the good and strength that we manage to achieve at one given moment can easily turn into evil and weakness if we get complacent and self-satisfied with them. We can never over-emphasize this danger.
We need to continue fighting, struggling and traveling toward our ultimate goal who is God. We have to put one step after another to progress in our spiritual life, because the moment we stop, we actually would retrogress.
This is the law of our spiritual life which will always be an arena of the struggle between good and evil. To reach our goal who is God, we have to love him with all our might. And we can never love him enough. The moment we say, enough, we actually would have lost him. Thus, it would require a tremendous amount of humility to recognize this truth.
And given the context of our weakness and sinfulness, that love cannot help but be a matter of a constant fighting against them, learning how to derive good from evil, strength from weakness.
In all of this, we should never forget that God is always with us. He is giving us all the means, and abundantly at that. This truth is worth reiterating because we can always be tempted to think that we are doing all this by our lonesome.
God may allow what is termed as the â€œdark night of the soul,â€ but that is precisely because he is giving us another opportunity to grow more in goodness and in strength. Letâ€™s remember that God never loses any battle, much less, the whole war, unless we allow it. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)