The subtle forms of self-indulgence
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

We have to be most careful with the many subtle forms of self-indulgence that take us away from God. These usually spring from the many blessings and good things God has given us, but which we misuse or abuse. Instead of glorifying God, we use them to indulge ourselves simply.

These forms of self-indulgence can be so tricky that we may not be very aware we are falling into them. We may even think we are doing right, making good use of our time and talents, exercising our freedom, or affirming who we are, etc. It’s a very insidious type of self-deception.

Aside from God, they also alienate us from others. We may not even realize we are building an impenetrable wall around ourselves. We become insensitive to our responsibilities to God, deaf and blind to others’ needs.

They usually start as something like fine, flimsy threads, similar to the sticky, silky ones spiders produce to trap little insects, and once trapped these insects are immediately wrapped with them and devoured.

They usually start as something legitimate, but somehow the intention with which we use them isn’t quite right. Instead of leading us to God and others, they simply feed our egos and give free rein to our curiosities, love for comfort and bodily pleasure, etc. Before we know it, we find ourselves wallowing in the mud of self-absorption, unable or at least finding it hard to extricate ourselves from that condition.

We are now having a high incidence of all forms of addiction --from alcohol to drugs, and even to legitimate things like our work, hobbies, sports, games, and forms of recreation. We are now very familiar with workaholism, but there are now many other forms of addictions like pornography, gambling, etc.

Self-indulgence can even enter into the area of religion and spirituality when we get hooked on superstitious beliefs and practices, leading us to such anomalies as hypocrisy, self-righteousness, rash judgments, gossiping, spiritual lukewarmness and the like.

We have to make conscious effort to protect ourselves from these dangers. For this, we need to constantly rectify our intention. Sometimes God takes the initiative of prompting us what to do, in this case we should try our best to be very docile and faithful. Other times, we are the ones who initiate a plan, and we should always refer it first to God before acting on it.

We need to develop a strong ability to say no to certain things that we know can invite us to self-indulgence. Thus, Christ told us to learn how to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Lk 9,23) This skill is so indispensable in our life. Every day, we should be conscious that there is something at least, no matter how legitimate, that we manage to say no to.

We have to develop the fine art of self-discipline and self-control. It may just be matter of putting away the cellphone when we already are in bed, or looking at it only once every hour or every thirty minutes, etc.

We have to be wary of the many conveniences and amenities we enjoy today, because they can easily spoil us. The powerful gadgets and useful modern technologies really need not only technical expertise in using them, but more importantly, a strong discerning moral and prudential sense.

In this, we have to help one another by giving good examples of prudence and sobriety, timely and regular reminders, and even corrections.

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