THE PASSERBY by Fr. Roy Cimagala | Little conquests lead to bigger ones



I BELIEVE this is a most relevant and urgent message we can convey to the young ones of today. We cannot deny that many of our youth, the so-called millennials, are trapped in a veritable bondage of distractions. They may not be asking for it, but I believe they actually need help in overcoming that predicament.

Yes, distractions are sapping and wasting their energies and creativity, and are setting them up for bigger falls and more complicated problems. That is why we have an increasing number of cases of youthful addictions that can lead to depression and mental illness, and other anomalies like all kinds of vices and even suicide. Evil, like goodness, also tends to spread and to grow worse.

We have to help them. And one concrete way of helping them is to tell them or remind or suggest to them, whichever is most appropriate at a given moment, that making little daily conquests in their spiritual struggles will protect them or properly arm them in dealing with the bigger challenges that require harder struggles.

The other day, I saw someone playing Soduku practically the whole day. I could not help but think that the person was completely under the game’s spell, preventing him from doing his other chores and duties. I would not be surprised if his parents, teachers and others would sooner or later complain about this.

Now playing games, like Soduku, is not wrong as long as it is done within the scheme of proper order in the day. We can only give so much time for it, enough to provide us with some rest and to refresh our mind so as to be in a good condition to return to our work and other responsibilities. It should not keep us in some kind of a fixed grip.

What we can tell those in this kind of predicament is that making little self-denials by setting clear limits in terms of time and excitement in our games and other distractions would keep these games a healthy and helpful form of rest.

Besides, and I think this is a more important reason, being able to make these little conquests will help us conquer the bigger challenges and temptations in our life. I believe that if one manages to say no to the temptation to extend playing Soduku ‘ad infinitum,’ he most likely can manage also to say no when the very tempting sting of the flesh comes his way.

This assertion, of course, has basis on what Christ himself said: “Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Lk 16,10) I believe there is some correlation between our ability to conquer in the little battles in our spiritual life and that of winning in our major spiritual battles.

We need to recover, especially today, that Christian advice that we need to deny ourselves in certain things all the time to be able to live our life properly. Yes, Christ said it very clearly. “If anyone would come after me,” he said, “he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24)

But even before telling someone about this piece of advice from Christ, we have to transmit first the more basic advice of what our real treasure should be and where it can be found.

Christ said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and stead. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6,19-21)

We need to help everyone feel the immediate and constant need for God!

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Fr. Cimagala is the chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE), Talamban, Cebu City. E-mail him at roycimagala@gmail.com.

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