Life’s unavoidable dirt

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE CANNOT deny that no matter how much we try to keep ourselves clean, not only physically but also morally and spiritually, we cannot avoid the dirt that there is always in the world.

Some of these dirt today can appear to be so nice that we can feel at home with it already. We should not be afraid to get dirty, without compromising what is essential in life. And if we fall, we should know what to do.

Yes, nowadays we have to contend with formidable, almost irresistible moral dirt, since we have to grapple not only with clearly evil things but also with the many confusing elements that mix good and evil. These can be produced by powerful structures of sin that are now deeply embedded even in today’s world culture. Just consider the wide network of corruption and pornography in the world today.

While we have to be realistic and acknowledge this fact of life as objectively as possible, and learn how to live with it, we cannot be naïve and think that everything is just fine. We have to do something about it. We have to regularly clean ourselves up, much like our need to take a shower every day and wash ourselves every so often to keep ourselves clean.

That’s why we have to regularly pray and offer sacrifices, make many acts of contrition and atonement, regularly go to confession and receive our Lord in Holy Communion. These spiritual and supernatural means are very effective since not only would we be reliant on our own powers but we also let God’s power to protect us.

More than that, we have to develop our spiritual combat skills and a certain kind of immunity from the world’s dirt so that we would not be unduly affected by them. We have to develop the appropriate defense mechanisms, learning how to ignore certain things while intensifying our presence of God.

Still more, we have to undertake the duty of cleaning up not only ourselves individually but also of helping to clean up others and the world in general.

Of course, we have to start with our own selves. And in this regard, it would be helpful to educate our conscience to be most sensitive and clear about what is morally right and wrong without falling into scrupulosity and paranoia. We also have to train our conscience to be resistant to all evils, knowing how to ride them out without falling into laxity and insensitivity.

It also helps to develop a sporting spirit and a good sense of humor, since these would facilitate our survival in the unavoidable disappointments, worries, fears, failures, etc. that we can expect to happen as we tackle the drama of our daily life.

We have to have a clear understanding of the kind of cooperation in evil that is tolerable. This is what is called the material cooperation in evil, not the formal one. We can have recourse to this when we somehow are forced or pressured to be in a situation where some cooperation in evil is unavoidable. In fact, nowadays there is hardly any instance when we do not cooperate in evil one way or another. So we have to be prepared for this.

It is also good that even as we keep ourselves clean and adequately protected from the world’s unavoidable dirt, we should also instill in ourselves a keen desire to clean up the world. We can always start somewhere—at home, in the neighborhood, in the schools and offices, in the media, in the fields of entertainment, business, politics and sports, etc.

For this, we have to be truly strong so we can handle the formidable challenge well. This is where we can indulge in some healthy kind of activism, pursuing advocacies that are for the good of all.