Beware of privileges and
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 17, 2016
AS school chaplain, I get to
talk with students who are transitioning from one level to another –
be it from high school to college or from college to professional
life, etc. A common problem or difficulty these students meet in this
stage of their life is that of adjustment.
Most of the time, these
students realize that they have new responsibilities to assume, new
challenges and expectations to meet. Though many of them manage to
cope with the new things, some find it hard and fall into crisis,
sometimes grave, almost fatal or suicidal crisis.
These problematic cases
often manifest a common feature – that of somehow being spoiled by
privileges, entitlements, comfort and carefree lifestyle that they
enjoyed and received from their parents and peers.
This time though, as they
enter a new phase in their life, they notice that these perks are
ebbing away for a number of reasons, and they find it hard to go on
without them. While this phenomenon is quite normal and should be
expected, some of these young ones do not know how to handle it. They
are unprepared for these changes, or they simply refuse to make the
They continue to expect the
same things, when circumstances have in fact changed, sometimes
drastically. And so they get disappointed and frustrated, and from
there more serious problems can be triggered.
They fail to realize that
gospel indication of Christ: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled,
and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Mt 23,12) They fail to
match their growth in their status with the corresponding growth in
their sense of responsibility, in the tenor of what Christ himself
said: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mt 23,11)
This is where they have to
be reminded – with patience and reassurance but with clear and strong
admonition – that they have to know how to wean themselves from their
previous lifestyle and start to get real with the objective changes of
circumstances in their lives.
Part of this reminder should
be the explanation that all the attention and affection lavished on
them by their parents and others while they were growing up was meant
for them to grow toward maturity and not for them to get spoiled.
Getting spoiled by all the
attention, privileges and entitlements given to them can happen when
they fail to realize this crucial truth about their life. They fail to
act on what Christ himself said: “From everyone who has been given
much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him
they will ask all the more.” (Lk 12,48)
So this is where they have
to be taught how to grow in responsibility, teaching them to be ever
mindful and thoughtful of the others, and to realize that our life,
like Christ’s life, is meant to serve and not to be served.
In fact, all of us have to
do everything to acquire, develop and enrich this attitude in
ourselves and among ourselves, inspiring and inculcating it in others
as much as we can, for it is what is truly proper of us all.
With God’s grace, we have to
exert effort to overcome the understandable awkwardness and tension
involved in blending the natural and the supernatural aspects of this
affair, as well as the expected resistance we can give, due to the
effects of our sins.
We can make use of our daily
events to cultivate this attitude. For example, as soon as we wake up
from sleep in the morning, perhaps the first thing we have to do is
address ourselves to God and say “Serviam” (I will serve). It’s the
most logical thing to do, given who God is and who we are in relation
And “Serviam” is a beautiful
aspiration that can immediately put us in the proper frame of mind for
the day. It nullifies Satan’s “Non serviam” and our tendency to do our
own will instead of God’s, which is what sin, in essence, is all
And as we go through our
day, let’s see to it that everything we do is done as a service to God
and to others. Let’s not do them merely out of self-interest or
self-satisfaction. That kind of attitude is highly poisonous to us,
ruinous to our duty to love. Sooner or later, we will find ourselves
completely engulfed by self-centeredness.
For us to be able to do
things as service of love to God and to others, we have to continually
rectify our intentions. We should be quick to react when we notice
that our intentions and motivations are already invaded by