For the new year to be truly a new life for us, we need to identify an area in our spiritual life where we can do some spiritual warfare. 0nly then can we expect some improvement, some progress, developmentÂ and newness in our life.
Only then can we be brought closer to our human and Christian fulfillment, maturity and perfection as defined by St; Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians: â€œmature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.â€ (4,13)
A mature person knows himself objectively. He knows how to distinguish between what is possible and what is doable, what he wants and what is truly good for him. He knows how to act serenely and react to events properly.
We should realize the indispensability of this spiritual struggle. Nothing grows and develops, nothing is improved and renewed, unless this spiritual struggle is undertaken. We have to see to it that we understand this truth well and get to conform ourselves to it.
We cannot underestimate the enemies of our soul. We all have our weaknesses, our personal miseries, our feet of clay. We all have our mistakes, falls, sins and their consequences. We should not ignore them, though we should remain hopeful and optimistic. God is always around. His providence never fails unless we want it to fail.
To top it all, St. Paul told us that we are actually ranged against formidable spiritual nemeses that have to be tackled with spiritual and supernatural means, like prayer, sacrifices, hard work, recourse to the sacraments, skills with dealing with weaknesses, temptations and the consequences of our sins.
â€œFor our struggle is not against flesh and blood,â€ St. Paul says, â€œbut against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.â€ (Eph 6,12)
But in all of this, we have to remain calm and confident, because as long as we have faith, we know that God will always be with us. He will never abandon us, and he will do everything so we can properly deal with any predicament we can be in. â€œIn this world you will have trouble,â€ Christ says, â€œbut take heart! I have overcome the world.â€ (Jn 16,33) Very reassuring words, indeed!
Besides, we can always count on the powerful help of our guardian angels and saints, and especially of our Mother Mary who one time reassured the doubting Juan Diego of the Lady of Guadalupe episode: â€œAre you not in the folds of my mantle? Is there anything else that you need?â€
Mary will always be a mother to us. She will move heaven and earth to help us. Thereâ€™s no need to be overly worried and fearful. In fact, we should have a kind of a winnerâ€™s attitude, because victory is assured as long as we stick with Christ. We should be able to echo St. Paulâ€™s words: â€œI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.â€ (1 Tim 4,7)
Itâ€™s important that in this concern of our life, we maintain a supernatural outlook, otherwise there will be no other way but to be dominated by fear, sadness, pessimism. The challenges and the many bad experiences that we will be going through in this life would be tremendous and overwhelming.
Faith and the supernatural outlook would give us the assurance that everything will always work out for the good. Even our mistakes and difficulties can be made use of to advance our spiritual life. The temptations, sins and falls can be great occasions to be more intimate with God. They can be stronger magnets for Godâ€™s grace to come to us. They can occasion deeper conversions, strengthening of virtues, etc.
But we also have to do our part. Letâ€™s make realistic plans and strategies. Letâ€™s monitor the growth and the different developments of our spiritual life and come out with realistic ways to tackle them.
â€œWhat king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?,â€ Christ asks.
We have to realize that we are already given everything for us to win the war and every battle. Only when we wage this warfare can we expect the new year to give us new life!Â (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)