A matter of tinder and trigger

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

A tinder is any dry, flammable material, such as wood or paper, that is used for lighting a fire or to keep the fire going. A trigger as a noun is a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun. As a verb, it can mean to cause an event or situation to happen or exist.

In our spiritual life or in our relationship with God and with everybody else that should be properly marked by love, we always need a tinder and a trigger to start, develop that love and keep it going.

As St. James recommended this in his letter, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let him pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” (5,13)

Our love should be burning, ardent, fervent, and abidingly so. But our human condition is such that we often find ourselves running out of gas and energy in this department. We easily fall into complacency and lukewarmness if not a complete death of love. And instead, we can wallow in anger, hatred, jealousy, self-love, etc., and then fall into the pit of nihilism.

We should be wary of this condition of ours and be prepared always to tackle it properly. This is where we need some tinder and trigger to keep our love ablaze. We have to know which tinder and trigger is proper to use when we encounter the different predicaments of our life.

These predicaments and situations can be those of sadness, frustrations, failures, despair, tiredness, boredom, or the other extreme when we would be blown high to excitement and pleasure that numbs us from our duty to love and entrap us into the grip of self-indulgence and ego-tripping.

Of course, everyone is unique and would have his distinctive tinder and trigger. So, it would be nice if everyone gets to study this issue and find his appropriate devices. It could be some aspiration, a look at a ‘stampita’ or crucifix, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or a particular shrine. It could be a song, a poem, an essay. Or it could just be seeing a particular friend.

It would also be good if everybody helps everybody else in this matter. In this regard, it might be helpful also to identify situations that can trigger the loss of the presence of God or the fervor of piety that we are supposed to have. We have to learn how to avoid them.

We cannot deny that there also are tinders and triggers that can lead us to lukewarmness and complacency. These can be attachments to some materials and earthly affairs and concerns, like our gadgets, the social media, fashion, hobbies, sports, etc. These can be moments of laziness and idleness. Or it can be feelings of insecurity or guilt because of one’s failures or sins. These usually create a slippery slope.

I know of some people who would put a little crucifix on the table where they work so they can have at least some presence of God, or be reminded always of what Christ went through just to save us, etc., etc. Yes, we need human devices.

Others, like myself, sing some appropriate songs in our mind. Since songs have the effect of immediately touching the heart without being too cerebral, they are effective as tinders and triggers. They have some relieving effect.

Still others make use of pictures of family, or other images that soothe the mind and heart and lead them to their proper state. They surround themselves with these images in the places where they spend most of the time. It is always good to have an instant clutch of tinders and triggers before things develop from bad to worse.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com