By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS IS not about the invisible war on women in some poor African country who are raped and systematically subjected to all sorts of atrocities by some monsters in that area, and whose plight goes largely unpublished and ignored by the rest of the world.

This sad thing certainly deserves our utmost attention also. Rather, this is about the invisible war all of us need to wage in ourselves, where the fate of our life is truly determined. Now that we are in the Lenten season, it’s good to be reminded of it.

It’s really not the struggles we have outside us that hold the key to our life. It’s not in our quest for money and fame, our effort to solve our economic, social, political problems, etc. These struggles depend on an inner, mainly invisible one.

The root struggle, the original stem cell of all our struggles in life is inside us, largely hidden. The frontlines are in our mind and heart, in our conscience, where we choose whether we are really with God as we should be or we keep to our own selves, and thus violate the law that governs us.

With God, we have everything. We have the fountain of love, the pattern and purpose of love. He provides us the strength and the power to love, and teaches us the crucial role of sacrifice involved in love.

With ourselves, we have only what we can manage to have. Big or small, what we have will always have a limit. Worse, they are prone to come to us already corrupted and distorted. And we don’t understand the value of sacrifice.

That’s the ultimate and constant choice we make, starting with our thoughts and desires, and then our actions. It’s the choice that expresses the kind of love we have—whether we love God and others, or we just love our own selves with God and others as mere props.

We are meant to love. This is something that we do quite spontaneously. We are drawn to what we think is good for us, and we pursue it using all sorts of means.

And yet we can easily mishandle this basic function that is written deep in our heart, even going beyond what our DNA defines for us. Many reasons and factors can offer some explanation.

Our laziness, for one, often shoots down the usual spontaneous reaction of love and generosity we have when we too are shown with love. Some disordered attachments to things spoil our initial stirrings of self-giving to God and others. There are many others.

These days, many of us are caught in a widening web of self-love, spun by new things that intoxicate us, taking away our proper senses. Many youngsters, for example, are so hooked to the internet they forget even their basic duty to eat and sleep.

Even many of the not-so-young find themselves defenseless before such a barrage of new discoveries and possibilities, good and bad, offered by the internet. Many fail to master the new experience and find their selves succumbing to dormant weaknesses now triggered by internet images.

Everyone has to be reminded of our need to activate our invisible war and wage it without let up. It’s as necessary as our breathing. It’s what makes our spiritual life alive and healthy. Without it, there’s no way but for it to go kaput.

In spite of some impressive external appearances of goodness and vitality of life, without the invisible war the emptiness and death of our interior life will sooner or later show. The inner decay can’t be hidden for long.

To be effective in this invisible war, we need to identify as concretely as possible the subject in which we need to focus our attention and energy. The subjects are endless, but we need to face them one at a time.

We can go into multiple and varied spiritual challenges, but only after we shall have gained some expertise in the basic fronts that we handle singly at first.

It’s good that we have an idea of what armaments we need to wage that war—usually prayers, sacrifices, fasting, etc.—and a time-frame to do it. Lastly, it stands to reason that we avail as much help as possible from others.

We can go to spiritual direction for example. These are our advisers and allies so crucial in waging any battle.