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In a world that is going increasingly out of kilter, it is very easy to become depressed, angry, and full of worries. But Our Lord has given us a way to deal with these feelings, by our having a loving detachment from those people, places, and things that might otherwise get in the way of our getting closer to Him. And in doing so, you might just find you’re getting closer to your loved ones as well, if you allow Jesus to help you to make that happen when needed.
So, what do we mean by a loving detachment? It is the whole notion of being in the world but not of it. Of being loving and kind towards others wherever possible, but not letting your trials and tribulations get the better of you. This concept can indeed be quite helpful, particularly in these stressful times.
The more we put God front and center in our lives, the more our trials can become manageable, as we ask for His help in making them more bearable with His grace, in detaching from excessive anxieties over troubling or challenging situations, or just from our affinities towards the 7 deadly sins of lust, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, vanity, and wrath.
We have jobs, God willing, and families and are trying to support those we care about and love them, as Jesus has indeed commanded us to do. But at the same time, we need to understand that this is not our final home. Our earthly existence is meant to be a brief pilgrimage on our journey towards Eternal Life.
People “from the streets to the suites” as they say, who think this earthly existence is all there is, with no Divine transcendence or hope for the afterlife are more likely to be corrupt, depressed, angry, and become substance abusers.
They may blame everyone but themselves for whatever mayhem they may cause, and can treat people as if they're just objects to be used for their own pleasure or advancement and then discarded on a whim.
In the midst of this selfish, secular onslaught we are currently enduring, filled with people who make themselves rather than God the arbiters of truth, we might want to heed the advice St.Teresa of Avila gave in her famous prayer known as, appropriately enough, St. Teresa's Bookmark.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.
And then there’s this excerpt from the Surrender Novena written by the Servant of God Father Don Donlindo Ruotolo which I’ve used as a short quick prayer in stressful moments:
O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!
It is hard at times to remember this, but God is in charge of that “everything”, not Satan. He allows evil to take place when we turn away from Him to show us the consequences of our doing so, but also that He, through us, might bring good out of it and that we might turn back to Him.
When you have a loving detachment ideally you love not just your family but others as well. But if you can't love or even like them, if you’re filled with anger and resentment for whatever harm might have been done to you, you can at least pray for those who hurt you. This also applies to family members and co-workers and such from whom you feel estranged one way or another.
However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned and speak out against various woke excesses, especially those inimical to our faith involving sexuality and so-called gender issues, along with the government infringing on parental authority. We must remember and remind others that the state isn’t God. God is God.
But when Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44), the point is not to let anger and resentment consume you, as can happen all too easily, especially in instances you've been slighted or betrayed by a loved one or a colleague or a co-worker, or perhaps even been harmed physically.
But even in those traumatic situations, it's important to try to turn to God and ask Him to help you deal with whatever negative feelings you have. This is especially important, as mentioned earlier, when dealing with families, so many of which are broken or otherwise fractured these days.
A loving detachment also means being detached from the possessions of this world, that they do not own you and that the people who covet them do not own you as well.
You are much more than what you own. You have a God-given soul which, along with your free will, can steer you towards either eternal peace, love, joy and beauty in heaven, or eternal hatred, regret, and despair among the damned in Hell.
God created each one of us for a particular purpose. You may not be able to discern exactly what yours is, but John Henry Cardinal Newman gave us all some valuable insights in this prayer, which follows:
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am. I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.
If this prayer’s conclusion seems harsh, remember that our journey with our Creator doesn’t always include warm fuzzies. Jesus Himself said memorably that whoever wished to follow Him had to take up his own cross (Matt 16:24).
We are called to offer up our hardships and sufferings in expiation for sins in imitation of Jesus’ great sacrifice for our salvation at Calvary. Many of us are carrying quite heavy crosses these days and it's not going to get any better anytime soon.
Don't feel pressured by the world, the flesh and the devil to do those things that are inimical not only to your salvation, but also to your sanity in this life. Again, you're not what you own. He who dies with the most toys doesn’t win! Shrouds have no pockets and there’s never been a U-Haul trailer riding behind a hearse.
As Our Lord Himself told His disciples (Matt 5:19-21): "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
Contrary to the world’s materialistic notions, love is not something that can be bought. God’s love is much more meaningful than anything the world wants to give you in terms of money, power, and adulation because those things are all temporary. They fade. As we read in the book of Isaiah (40:8) “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.”
The point of a loving detachment is to let our Lord work within you. Understanding that this life is not all there is. And that God has a greater love that He wants to share with you, that you can then share with others as a “citizen in training” for heaven, where there's universal love, without any selfish agendas, hatred or conflicts. Just the pure love of God in goodness, that can bring you everlasting joy.
Although St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God, people spend tons of money and time trying to find rest in various mood changers, both legal and illegal, to try to achieve a euphoric feeling that you will have for eternity in heaven but that you're not meant to have forever here. But you can come closer to experiencing God’s peace in this life when you understand that He has your back.
God complained to the prophet Jeremiah in a similar time of great apostasy in Judah in the 7th century BC of those there who “have turned their backs to me, and not their faces” (Jeremiah 32:32-33).
If you want God to have your back, don't turn your back on Him. He's more than happy to help you through the hard times and to give you His grace especially in Communion and Confession, to help you cope with all the insanity around us these days!
Satan wants to snare you with confusion, doubt, depression, and despair. But remember you don’t fight evil by giving into it when you turn your back on God.
That's why you have to be able to detach from resentments, envy, and all those people and things that drive you crazy. Maybe you need God’s help in serving an eviction notice to those people you can’t stand who are nonetheless living rent-free in your head!
It might mean having to lean on God more than you'd expect. And for those times that he seems to be distant, pray to Him all the more even if it doesn't seem like he’s listening, and trust in His providence.
The Psalmists talked about God’s seeming absence of course, as have many great saints. Considering the chaos in the world, and the lukewarm guidance we get from many of our churches these days, it is also easy to feel a great deal of anxiety, confusion, and anger. But don't give up on God.
Pray for yourself and your fellow sinners. And don't be led by your resentments or momentary passions. And if there are times you feel stranded, let our Lord know that and cry out for His help as much and as often as necessary, either in prayers you know or just in your own words.
And for those times you feel a certain emptiness, as we all do, do you fill it with celebrity gossip, or your own, perhaps? Do you fill that void by picking at the scabs of your grudges? Do you fill it with social media on the internet?
Granted we all need to be informed as to what we need to know for our day-to-day lives. But to the degree you are filling yourself up on emotional junk food, fill it up instead with God in prayer, the sacraments, and nourishing reading about our faith and its solid tradition.
So, in sum, practice that loving detachment from the world, which is something we all need. Be in the world in terms of caring for and loving others. But not of the world, in letting yourself be overwhelmed by earthly problems. If that seems well-nigh impossible, pray for those who are giving you trouble anyway and don’t let yourself be consumed by anger and bitterness towards them.
That's a hard thing to do, particularly nowadays, particularly when it seems like there are so many rogues in the rogues gallery everywhere. There are so many people nowadays who are causing great harm and they don't seem to care about it. They may be in your neighborhood. Or they may be corrupt big movers and shakers in the corridors of power.
Speaking of which, as mentioned earlier, being detached from the world doesn't mean you shouldn't make your voice heard peacefully, and encourage others to do the same, when confronted with one of the many egregious edicts concerning education these days, for example.
Above all, remember in those times where you feel most lost and confused, don’t despair and give those feelings to the devil. Give them to God. And don't give up on Him. He's not giving up on you. And that's what counts the most.