by Margo Borders
Many of us have spent the last forty days in the midst of a perpetual struggle: a struggle of keeping our Lenten promises, fasting, abstinence, and enriching our spiritual lives on the journey towards Easter. As the Easter season begins, we can begin to reflect on this struggle, and, while we joyfully celebrate our Risen Lord, we can still continue in our struggle towards sainthood.
Lent reminds us of the importance of the spiritual struggle. We fight our sinful inclinations each day: our inclination to hurt others, to give into pleasures, and to act selfishly. However, we should not disregard the importance of our everyday Christian struggle during every liturgical season. Even after the penitential season of Lent, we should struggle to grow in our spiritual lives, focusing not on our failures, but on our efforts.
What is the spiritual struggle? It is our effort every day to live out our Christian faith. Some days it is a challenge to fit in prayer, to get to daily Mass, or finish an examination of conscience. In order to grow in our spiritual journey, challenging ourselves to make our Christian lives part of our everyday lives is essential. Our efforts are absolutely necessary, and God looks fondly upon our intention to live out our faith, whether we consistently succeed or not.
How do we motivate ourselves along the journey to sanctity? First and foremost, our love for Christ should inspire us. As a good friend once told me, love is the most exacting of all taskmasters. An appreciation for the sacrifice Jesus made for the salvation of our souls should inspire us to make sacrifices for Him, and to desire to grow in holiness for Him. If our spiritual resolutions are too difficult, we should look again at our love for the Lord.
Another part of our spiritual struggle is our recognition of the power of the devil. Pope Francis quite frequently acknowledges the presence of the devil in fighting spiritual warfare on earth, and the devil’s commitment to leading us astray in our spiritual struggle. Pope Francis said, “The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
In our acknowledgement of the devil and his temptation, we can grow in our willpower, motivation, and love for Christ Himself. Our spiritual journey will never be easy. As we experienced during the Lenten season, it is one of failures, joys, and celebration of each success. In this season of Easter, we continue to struggle in our Christian journey, living our faith in every moment of our lives and struggling to grow each day.