By Fr. Roy Cimagala
We have to be most wary of this particular predicament that, sad to say, is becoming more common these days. This is not about the usual and normal ageing and deterioration we can expect as we grow old after a life of very active work. This is about the aging and deterioration of our spirit that is supposed to be always new and young, despite the aging and deterioration of our bodily organism.
This aging and deterioration of the spirit can even affect young people who in spite of their bodily health and general good human condition find themselves sad, depressed, indifferent, tired, practically zapped. They seem to find no more meaning and purpose in their life. They could not get any motive to move on. In the worst scenario, they even commit suicide.
Fortunately, I also have met old people who, in spite of their depleted strength and vitality, continue to show zip and a zest for life precisely because of their healthy spiritual life. They are cheerful, optimistic, positive, and constructive in their views and reactions to things. They even are eager to lend a hand when they can.
We really have to take care of our spirit which can only be properly animated if it is vitally engaged with the spirit of God. We come from God and we belong to him, meant to share in his very life, starting here on earth, until we reach our definitive state in heaven.
Our spirit should not just be pegged on the spirit of the flesh or of the world only. These spirits cannot go the distance. Neither should our spirit be allowed to be unclear about what inspires and animates it, because that condition would just expose it to the most vicious of spirits, which is the spirit of the devil.
The earlier this basic truth about ourselves is known and acted on, the better for us. Thus, it is recommended that right when a person is still a child, he is introduced to the world of religion, of faith, of the spiritual and the supernatural, of God. Of course, this has to be done in a gradual way, depending on the capacity of the child.
As soon as the child can understand it, he has to be taught that he has to enter into a personal relationship with God who is everything to us, showing him some practical ways of how this relationship is established and developed—through prayer, little sacrifices, the sacraments. They have to be taught to know more about God through the appropriate books, and to develop love and devotion to him.
Some people might ask and even complain that this might be treating children improperly, since children do not know yet the full meaning of all these acts. They may even go to the extent of accusing us that we are compromising the freedom of these children.
My standard reply to these points is that we give children what they need even if they do not ask for it. They may even resist and not appreciate what they actually need, as in the case of the little child who refuses to eat because he wants to play, or he just is not interested, etc. But we would always try to find ways to make the child eat, because he needs to eat.
We have to realize that the greatest need of man is God. So, we should introduce God to everyone as early as possible and practicable. That way the child can already have some familiarity with religion and the different acts of piety which can always be developed and enriched as he grows older.
In that way, he will realize early on that he needs his spiritual soul to be animated by the spirit of God to keep himself going regardless of the circumstances and conditions in his life.