How to Reject the Word and Live for Heaven
IF WE DON’T LOSE THE IDOLS OF THE WORLD, WE CAN’T LEARN THE WAY
IdolatryThe gods we have made of this world are so damaging to us. Oh, what deception we have fallen into, as we love so many pleasures of this world and desire them as our source of happiness, instead of God…this yummy dish, that awesome gadget, that smile of love, that boost of confidence from success…
Oh, the pleasures are endless, and sadly we seek and/or desire so many of them as our source of joy and not God; it is tragic.
If we only knew how these pleasures reject God’s love, we would run from them, like the plague they really are.
“[We] should despise all earthly pleasures.” —St. John of Avila
“Despise all earthly pleasures.” That isn’t a concept most of us can understand why it is needed, but it is the truth. Truly, the world keeps us from God.
The Word also instructs us saying, “Do not love the world or the things of the world,“ and then tells us the consequence for such an action by stating, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15)…meaning we reject Eternal Life from such worldly love.
Therefore, we really need to learn how to wean ourselves from all we love that isn’t God and His will so we can truly love God above all.
But to keep us living for the world and its pleasures, the devil tricks us into thinking we don’t “love” the world…oh, but we most certainly do and in many ways…as I will explain; we just don’t see them.
“The god of this age [our idols] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers [those who don’t believe enough to seek a saving faith], so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Different Forms of Idolatry
We are all different people with different kinds of idolatry–attachments that we long for to bring us happiness–in which we suffer from. But yet, we all suffer from the same general categories of desires as I have listed below.
Our Three Main Attachments Are:
Even if we can’t see how we desire power, people and possessions, I will show us clearly how we desire all three of them and sadly, in a big way.
Sure, from our unique sinful tendencies, we tend to gravitate more towards one of these attachments than another, but we all still suffer from all three of these issues, just on different levels (unless of course we have been imploring God for grace after grace and have removed one after another from our life through God’s mercy).
One of the problems is, most people only see “possessions” as the worldly things we can become attached to, but frankly being attached to “power” and “people” are even more prevalent. The problem again is, we just don’t see them.
It is incredibly easy, even if we want to run from the world, to get sucked into the devil’s trap and give countless hours into any of these attachments–sins– when God desires us to give our lives to Him and His will. Then we lose sight of God, rejecting His grace, since our eyes are on other things.
Now, before we can see what is idolatry, we need to learn what is a sin.
A sin: is doing or desiring anything that isn't to know, serve, or love God...any thing in our thoughts, words, or deeds that isn't for God's honor and glory.
Ponder that statement for a little…a sin is anything we do that isn’t to better know, serve or love God. If we aren’t doing it for God…if Jesus were us and He wouldn’t do it, it is a sin.
Yikes, how much do we do that doesn’t fit into that category? Everything outside of that is a sin.
Remember a true Christian is the image of Jesus.
“I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Are we really doing what Jesus would do? Are we removing our idols becoming like Christ?
How about that TV show we chose to watch before we went to bed? Why did we watch that? Was it to know, serve or love God…or serve and love ourselves? Do we think God wants us to relax with the world or with Him? Who/what do we desire/long for at the end of our day? Is it God or some time with a loved one or some useless worldly pleasure?
Have we made our family/friends our idols? Oh, how easy it is to long for them.
Where is our heart…truly with God or sadly still with the world?
The world is filled with billions of things to tempt and distract us from God, and billions of excuses we can come up with as to why they are OK, so we sin against Him with no desire to stop. But please don’t be deceived…just one attachment rejects God’s saving love.
But to fully understand what is an idol, it isn’t just any sin that is a deadly attachment–an idol–no, it is only the sins that we desire/long for over and over again–our habitual sins.
An idol: is something that we repeatedly seek/desire for happiness that isn't God.
Even though God created our hearts to desire Him alone as our source of joy, from the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, we desire sin. We need grace…much grace to not desire evil. But for a sin to be considered idolatry, our hearts must yearn for it.
For example: freely choosing to watch a TV show once, instead of doing God’s will and/or resting with Jesus in prayer or by reading a holy book, is a sin, but if we desire that TV every night, instead of God, then we have put our desire on the TV…removed our eyes from God and repeatedly chosen to love the world over God, which makes our TV our idol.
“Their idols are…the work of human hands” (Psalm 115:4).
Here is another example: receiving a complement isn’t sinful; yet, desiring a complement once (seeking self-glory) is a sin; but longing for complements (repeatedly desiring them) makes it an attachment, which is deadly idolatry.
But what is my [Jesus’] will, except that you should want to love me above all things and not desire anything but me?
I created all things for the sake of mankind [to help them love Me], and placed all things under his authority, but he loves all things except me, and hates nothing but me.”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
But the real problem is most don’t even know we desire/long for many sins…but until we can come to see our sinfulness, we will live in the dark about our misery, not even being able to repent of our sins.
Please don’t be deceived and think we don’t hate God and aren’t wounding Him like He says above. Horribly, every time we yearn for something that isn’t God..like to relax with that TV show or with what ever is our source of relaxization/happiness, when God wants us to relax and find our happiness with Him alone, we reject God. We actually hate God and love that senseless pleasure instead.
We can’t love both God and the world, we “will either hate one and love the other” (Matthew 6:24).
Truly there is greater peace and relaxation with God than any worldly pleasure, if we can accept His peace. We just need to get to that place in our spiritual life, to where we can embrace God’s grace and live in His peace and that is found by rejecting the world (one pleasure at a time)…not continuing to live in it.
Don’t get me wrong…there is a time and place for some acceptable forms of recreation, if needed, as I explain later. But beware the devil uses this truth to trick us into justifying bound and bounds of sins and idolatry so we stay his slaves and die.
The only way we will know the truth about our sinfulness so we can change is if we want to know the truth. If we were only honest with ourselves, and looked for what we really desire, we would see how we desire so many things to bring us happiness that isn’t God and His will and repeatedly seek them over and over again. But most aren’t honest; we don’t really want God’s mercy to help us change. Sadly, most truly love our sins.
This is why so very few are saved…so few are willing to leave the world–ALL of its pleasures for God (the Creator) and live the faith by way of the cross. We choose sin instead.
St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church teaches, “The doctrine of Christ which He came into the world to teach, is contempt [hate] of all things [of the world], that we may thereby have power to receive the reward of the Spirit of God [since desiring the world rejects God’s saving grace].
For he who does not withdraw himself from the things of the world is not qualified to receive the Spirit of God [is not qualified for Heaven]…
Oh, would that spiritual persons knew how they are losing the good things of the Spirit [helping grace], abundantly furnished, because they will not rise up their desires above trifles [lose their desire for worldly things], and how they might have the sweetness of all things in the pure food of the Spirit if they would only forego them [the world]. But as they will not, so they shall not have such sweetness [they shall not have eternal life].”
Tragically, even if we consider ourselves spiritual person with great relationships with God (as God still uses us even if we are dead in sin), most still want the world, and/or have convinced ourselves this, life of self denial and sacrifice, simply isn’t necessary for salvation…but until we really want to live for God alone and strive for this perfect obedience to God, which is doing what Jesus did and how the saints chose to follow Christ, who are our examples of The Way, we will be choosing some horrid pleasure instead of Heaven.
Certainly, God made everything good, but we have allowed the evil one to take the good in the world and twist it into something very bad. Instead of using the world to more fully know, serve and love God, we crave the world for personal pleasure and not God’s glory.
To obtain a saving faith all idolatry must be taken away by God grace…yes, all habitual sin must be gone. Desiring a sin is bad, but habitually wanting to offend God, even with a venial sin, is a deadly sin (idolatry).
We Can Change
We can change. We don’t have to die from idolatry. But to do this we must come to know the truth about ourselves…but yet our “heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jeremiah 17:9); so we know coming to know the honest truth of what we really love is going to be a challenge.
It is hard to look at what we love doing that isn’t to know, serve or love God and see the sin in it. And it is doubly as hard to see things we have convinced ourselves is God’s will (good) and come to see reality (its sinfulness). But with God’s grace, we can come to humble ourselves.
Keeping reality in front of us will help: to loose Eternal Life all we need is to desire (long for) just ONE pleasure then we forfeit Life for eternal torment. Keep this understanding before us as we seek to know the truth about ourselves so we can repent and change. We must come to know the truth about ourselves so we can seek Our Savior’s mercy to change us.
“The very fact that anyone chooses something that is contrary to divine charity [opposed to love of God], proves that he prefers it [sin] to the love of God, and consequently, that he loves it more than he loves God.” –St. Aquinas
Truly, if we really hated our sins and the world, we would run from it’s pleasures and seek the cross for the salvation of souls–we wouldn’t even want the smallest pleasure for self-gratification. Our contrition for our sins would drive us to great penance and we would reject all pleasure to atone for our sins. But tragically, we have been tricked into lying to ourselves to justify our desire for sin. We are living greatly deceived.
Where Have We Gone Wrong
Most of us have been tricked into thinking that the world is great as we pursue this pleasure and that comfort…saying, “God created everything and therefore it is good and has given it to me to make me happy.”
Sure, “everything created by God is good” (1 Timothy 4:4) and God wants us happy. However, God wants us happy, not with the world, but with HIM.
Do we really think God wants us to run to the world and its pleasures to keep us busy so we can find happiness through the world? Not at all. Did the saints do that; did Jesus?
We are supposed to spend our time working to emulate Christ, but sadly we don’t want to loose the pleasure for the cross. The problem is, we have allowed the devil to trick us into using the world for self-indulgence (sin) saying it is good. When we are only to use the world to know, serve, and love God through loving and caring for our neighbor; not for our own glory or comfort or happiness.
“No one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor [so all we do is for the salvation of our neighbor]” (1 Corinthians 10:24)
If we want Eternal Life, we need to learn how to leave the world–die to the world [sin]–and love/desire God alone to find the true happiness only He offers. “If you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness [leads to a saving faith]” (Romans 6:16). God is the source of true happiness. All it takes is the true desire of ones’ heart and we can leave the world for God.
“The whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
All of the things in the world just keep us from desiring Him. They are great distractions and reject grace. Sadly, most never find that happiness God wants to give us because we run to the world, looking for a better life, instead of seeking the happiness, comfort and joy God’s perfect love delivers. Therefore, we must, “watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise [living for the cross], making the most of the opportunity [to seek God and His perfect will for us], because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
“But what is my [Jesus’] will, except that you should want to love Me above all things and not desire anything but Me” (Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden).
God tells us not only are we to love Him above everything but we are not desire anything but God or we are committing IDOLATRY. Truly loving God is desiring Him alone, doing all for His honor and glory. Our hearts must burn for God and God alone. Not the next great sporting event or anything else. We aren’t saving souls by partaking in such things…Jesus only spent His time seeking God’s will not the pleasures of the world.
For example: We can love our family but not more than God, as our heart burns to be with God, not them. We will serve God through loving our family, not desiring our families’ love but only God’s love alone. And if we can honestly look into our desires, we will see where in our life we are seeking our families attention, help and comfort and are inordinately attached to our family or anyone for that fact so we can seek God’s grace and amend our desires and desire God alone.
“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
We must hate the world [not desire it]…all of the world. Longing for love, pleasure or anything to bring us happiness, from something or someone other than God, who is supposed to be our hearts source of true love and happiness, is a form of idolatry. God is to be our only delight we long for. Yet tragically, we desire so much that isn’t God because most of us have become so darkened to sin; we don’t really understand what is sinful/idolatry. Tragically we aren’t trying to rid it from our lives of sin, but we need to learn because we are dying from it.
“Put to death [remove], then, the parts of you that are earthly…that is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
Lack of True Sorrow
I know this can be really hard to comprehend if we have been deceived for so long into presuming we are in the state of grace, but truly, if we don’t truly want to live for God alone. If we don’t hate that we have chosen a single worldly pleasure (to serve ourselves) and if we aren’t truly resolved (working hard with God’s grace) to never choose that pleasure again–so to choose the cross instead, so we can love God through the cross and send grace to our neighbor like Christ did for us, then we lack true sorrow for that sin and are rejecting God’s forgiving mercy.
“The smallest sin, lusted after [desired-longed for], is enough to damn anyone from the kingdom of Heaven, who does not repent” (Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden).
This is the truth, as the saints, the Church, and the Word have declared. We are called to live for the cross, not for the world; that is the way to Eternal Life. How can we truly love God if we still love the World? We can’t love both God and the world. We “will either hate one and love the other” (Luke 16:13). How can we truly hate our sins, if we aren’t even honestly working to stop them? We can’t. I will do my best to explain in this article why this is true, so we can gain a true desire to work hard to reject the world and seek to sin no more so to escape the grip of the evil one.
“Thy death will not save me, if I do not do my part and detest every evil, and have true sorrow for the sins I have committed against Thee” (St. Alphonosus).
We Entertain Ourselves by Offending Our Creator
From being tricked into thinking the world is great, most aren’t living carefully always seeking God’s will; we actually seek many things that have nothing to do with knowing, serving or loving God, and justify it all as just fine. If we only knew the hours we waste…how we will wish we had them back when our hour of judgement comes, when we are so unprepared and still lusting over the world’s pleasures–dead from our love for sin. Oh, the creature comforts, the scrumptious foods, the love and approval from others, the fun and entertainment, and our will which we seek… Yet, anything, even the smallest thing we do, that isn’t to know, serve or love God, that isn’t for His honor and glory, is a sin. How many sins do we commit day in and day out and pay no attention to? Yet, every and every one of them is now a mortal sin. Any offence that we aren’t determined to stop committing, we lack true sorrow for and is a horrible crime against God who we are called to love and rejects His saving mercy. Horribly, we love God so little, we choose to offend God over and over again for our own personal entertainment as we justify our sins. How tragic!
“Whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
We have been tricked into living life for ourselves and not God. We don’t despise the world’s pleasures, and have rejected the truth for a lie and are following those who have created their own doctrine so to continue to live in sin. We must escape this trap. If we looked honestly into our hearts we would know we are so far from living live to serve God with our whole heart and are intentionally choosing to not even try. Not honestly try…with a heart burning to leave sin. Sure we might give some of our lives to God and that is good, but horribly we are just fine with giving the devil the rest. Yet, “if we live [are on the path of Life], we live for the Lord” (Romans 14:8)–all of the time. Truly, if we aren’t living to love God in ALL of our actions, but have chosen to love ourselves some of the time by committing sin for personal pleasure, lacking true sorrow for them since we aren’t really desiring to stop, we are doomed unless we repent and change–leave our lukewarm lives and honestly strive to sin no more.
Self-Indulgence is Sinful
Some have been so deceived, we don’t even know self-indulgences: lacking discipline and self-restraint and giving in to the desire to gratify our selfish appetites and cravings, is a sin?
“For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious [desire to impress] life, is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16).
Tragically most of us don’t exhibit self discipline and restraint for God’s glory. We don’t understand the cross is the way to Christ and to true joy in suffering for the salvation of souls. This should be our goal to imitate Christ; to truly follow Him. But for most of us, we ignore the cross and reject really following Christ.
Sadly in life, most of us want the best we can get. We want to relax and have a “great” life according to the world. For worldly reasons we might give up something of comfort or pleasure but not for the love of God, so to reject the world and live for God alone. Anyone can sacrifice their favorite foods for vanity (diet) or health reasons, there is no love for God in that. Giving up the finer things in life to save money or because we can’t afford them merits us no reward either. For-fitting relaxing because we have to work to pay our bills and fulfill our job doesn’t give glory to God either. Abstaining from sexual relations because our spouse isn’t available is no sacrifice for God too. We mostly have a desire and we seek to fill it, not even considering if it is God’s will and the way of the cross (to send grace for the salvation of souls). Even with desires that are good like food and sex (to love/procreate) we don’t partake in them sparingly so to not suffer from gluttony or lust. No, we fill ourselves up with the best we can get and still crave more. We have become people greatly lacking self-denial and moderation (discipline) for the love of God.
“If any want to become my followers [to Heaven], let them deny themselves [of worldly pleasure] and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
When we do happen to forgo partaking in a pleasure of the world for worldly reasons (can’t afford it, not convenient, don’t like it but would like something different, etc.)–not from a conscious effort to deny ourselves for the love of God or because from our great love for God we disdain the world–that doesn’t make the sacrifice for God. Many might not partake in a worldly pleasure, but in our hearts we are wishing we could, as we long for pleasures of all sorts and not God alone. Our hearts are filled with idolatry, because even though we didn’t fulfill our desires for worldly pleasure, we wish we did. We are just as guilty of idolatry (longing for anything that isn’t God) as the person is who desires worldly pleasure and fills their appetite to satisfy their cravings. Sure sometimes living our idolatry in our actions is a more grievous sin than lusting for them in our hearts alone, but nonetheless, they still both kill. We must learn how to let go of the world and desire God alone: to do all only to know, serve and love God..not for self-love (self-gratification) or we will choose the worlds pleasure over God and His perfect love and choose Hell instead.
We can’t desire both the world and God. We “will either hate one and love the other” (Luke 16:13). Of course, we can partake in those things and even take pleasure in them (as long as they aren’t by themselves sinful), but we can’t “desire” or seek them out for happiness. If we honestly look into our lives we will see how we seek to partake in the worlds pleasures, to find joy and happiness, in many various ways. That is sadly how we spend most of our time (especially our free time)–not perusing to know, serve, or love God (God’s will) for the true happiness that comes from above, but delighting in the world and all of its enticements or at least, wishing we were delighting in the world’s pleasures. Yet, we don’t have to give all of our life or even most of our life in pursuit of the world’s pleasures for self-gratification to die (choose Hell). No, we just need to spend one moment seeking/longing for one prideful indulgence, and we reject God’s saving mercy. One act of idolatry is a mortal sin. We need to repent and change from all of it to Live.
“The world and its enticement are passing away [don’t strive for them]. But whoever does the will of God remains forever [has Eternal Life]” (1 John 2:17).
The reason we don’t see our blaring idolatry is because we don’t want to. If we would only honestly look into our lives, we would see our great error, but most of us want to declare ourselves as righteous and not wretched. We don’t want to be known as sinners. Yet we are. Horribly, most simply don’t want to see or know the truth…and as a result will die in our unrepentant/unchanged sins. Some people will seem to have more wealth and seem to indulge in a self-serving life style in a greater way than others, but truly it isn’t necessarily how much someone partakes in worldly pleasures that kills them. Of course we want to avoid them, if at all possible, like the saints, but someone living in great poverty that has nothing can be more steeped in this sin of loving/craving the world than a greatly affluent person. God reads the heart and knows what we desire–what we long for. Therefore, don’t look at others who seem to be living a luxurious life, trying to justify our sinful behavior thinking they are worse; that is a death sentence for ourselves. Focus on our self and our need to change. Please understand, we don’t even need to participate in the pleasures of the world to loose everything, we simply have to long for something–anything that isn’t God and His will, and we commit the deadly sin of idolatry. There is a reason why, “many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Very few are willing to leave the world to desire God alone.
“Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord [to Heaven]? Who shall stand in His holy place? “The man with clean hands and pure heart,who desires not worthless things” [Psalm 23:3]
For many, this teaching is just to hard to accept, and sadly many have gone astray and created our own doctrine–and now “stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4), because we love the world so much. The devil has caught our hearts and pulled many away from God. Tragically, we simply don’t want to give all of it up to seek God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Don’t be deceived; of course we can’t run to God and “say” we are sorry for such sins, expecting forgiveness, if we aren’t even honestly trying to stop all of our idolatry…that lack of contrition (lack of sorrow) rejects God’s forgiveness. We must work to amend all acts of idolatry to profess our sorrow for our sins in honesty. Horribly, obeying this command, of not loving the world, or even wholeheartedly trying to obey this command is just too hard to accept for so many, and tragically many many beautiful people are lost. This reality is so hard to bear. We must learn the truth. We don’t only reject Heaven from committing serious mortal sin, or committing/desiring any sins without wanting to stop or lacking sorrow (lack of hatred for sin), but we also reject God’s saving merciful love if we are attached–longing for–anything in the world and not God (commit idolatry). This is true. Please listen to what St. John of the Cross teaches:
We should have no doubt that the pleasures of this world–which will pass away–most certainly lead to our eternal doom, not only because the Word tells us so, but also since all the saints had a great disdain for the world. They have proven to know the Way, since they made it to Heaven; we should follow them. They teach us the cross (denying oneself of worldly pleasures) is the Way to Eternal Life. Lets learn how to do that.
If we look we can see what we love, what we long for, in every avenue of our life especially, in the countless hours we waste, perusing the pleasures of the world and not seeking to know, serve or love God. Even though hating the world is completely foreign to how most of us were raised, we must learn how to live the true Christian faith as the Word says “do not love the world or the things of the world” (1 John 2:15). God gives us a free choice to continue to live life just like the rest of the world in sin, or to change and seek to live the true saving faith. Truly our heart can’t long for the pleasures of the world; we must long for the cross…for God and His will. The Lord is supposed to be our Shepard, who we follow and nothing shall we want but Him (cf. Psalm 23:1). When we love God and want Him, we have grown to love the cross by letting go of the world…because the cross and Christ are one. We must set our “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1). If we don’t learn how to “put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires [that aren’t God’s]” (Ephesians 4:22), then “anyone [who] loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him [and there is no Eternal Life because we rejected God for the world]” (1 John 2:15).
Jesus has been so merciful and warned us in His Word and through His saints of our pending doom if we don’t change as He exclaimed to St. Bridget of Sweden, “They honor and worship an idol: for they love the world and all the things in it more than me, who am their Creator. Therefore, the world is their god, and not I. For I said in my gospel: “Where a man’s treasure is, there his heart is also.” So, mankind’s treasure is the world, since their heart yearns towards it and not to me. Therefore, just as the Jews fell in the desert with a sword in their bodies, so too shall these people fall with the sword of eternal damnation in their soul and they shall live in damnation without end.” What a horror! We must be alert. We can’t say we don’t love the things of the world more than God, when our heart yearns for them and not God. How many of us truly yearn for God? Do we really give up going out to eat, going to the movies, hanging out with friends, etc….to run to be with God. Are we anxiously waiting for: a minute to be alone with God? What does our heart really yearning for?
“What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36).
Love the Cross
Beautifully the cross is the way to Christ, but horribly most don’t want it. The Word directs us to the cross, but we run away from it. God wants to lead us right to Him through the blessed cross. But sadly, we prefer to complain when we are discomforted for self-pity and seek to end our discomfort instead of picking up our cross. We don’t intentionally deny ourselves of pleasure (cf. ), like the Word tells us, we seek pleasure out. We are quick to tell someone if we have to work more than usual or have suffered anything to seek sympathy to fill our pride. We don’t want to work, unless we like what we are doing, and if we can find a way out, we take it. We want to relax, get something for nothing, and seek to find someone else to do our job if we can. Of course we need rest if our health is weak or we are exhausted from our hard work, but we mostly only work if the have to…not because we want to serve God through our neighbor.
“Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against Me” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).
We might serve somewhat, but then, when we feel we have done enough, we fall into temptation and declare it is our “me” time. You know the time we justify all kinds of selfish, self serving behaviors (sins) as we reason why we deserve to indulge in the world. We choose to watch TV that has sensuality in it (to say the least), and to justify our sinfulness, so we don’t have to deny our self of that pleasure, we say, “it is everywhere; we just have to deal with it.” Yet those who want to love God say, “I don’t want to choose to offend my God, to entertain myself.” How can we really love God and be OK with offending Him with any sin? We can’t. That is a horrid mortal sin (not wanting to stop sinning so we can be amused). We must choose to deny ourselves of our sinful pleasures or any pleasure that leads us into sin or isn’t being done to know, serve and love God and choose the cross if we ever intend on finding Eternal Paradise. We are supposed to seek to imitate Christ who “gave himself [all of himself] as ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). Do we want to do the same? Truly the same. Christ didn’t take “me” time to partake in the pleasures of the world. He didn’t desire anything of this world…especially sinful pleasures. He only used the world unless He needed it–I mean–really needed it. His thoughts and desires were on Heavenly things. His “me” time–time to relax–was spent praying to the Father. We must seek to do the same by making truly following Christ our life’s goal.
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do (John 13:15).
If we want Eternal Life, loosing the pleasures of this world must be our goal. If it isn’t our goal, we are not working towards a saving faith. Tragically, since we have been deceived by the evil one we are rejecting the cross constantly in our life. I know it can be hard to understand just how much we run from the cross, but if we honestly look into our responses to life situation we will see just how we don’t want to be mistreated, uncomfortable, ill or have any cross of any kind. I’m not saying Jesus wanted to be mistreated either; no, He wanted to be loved. But He wanted the cross, He chose the cross every painful part of it, to offer it up for the salvation of souls. God came from Heaven and became a mere man and carried the cross for 33 years out of love for us. Frankly, His Sacred Heart still suffers indescribable pain in Heaven over the loss of our souls, and it will continue until the end of time with the hopes to save a few. We know the saints wanted to suffer and craved to suffer out of love for God, just like God free willingly embraced the cross too, as His Heavenly Father’s will, to love us. We are called to do the same. This isn’t just for some saints…this is the way to salvation for all who what it.
“Eternal Wisdom tells us that the number of fools and unfortunate people [that fall into Hell] is infinite.” This is because the number of those who do not know the value of the Cross is infinite and they carry it despite themselves [in vain-with complaints showing their hatred of it]…With the elect you will take it up rightly and carry it patiently and cheerfully for the love of God” (St. Luis de Montfort).
But tragically, we think we deserve better and should have a life without suffering. For example: lets say our spouse treats us impatiently or selfishly, and instead of loving the cross delighting in it having pity for our spouse and praying for him/her, we complain or yell right back to them showing our hatred for the cross and love for our selves (pride). Sadly, we repeat our same sinful behaviors and never changing from our pride and love for that sin. Where is our love for the cross, our humble silent carrying of it because of our love for God? Have we forgotten we are horrid sinners? What do we really deserve? Pleasure or the cross? Isn’t marriage a sacrament of “service to others” (CCC #1534)? But we want to be served, doted over and treated as equal or even better than the other. Why? We are only supposed to be wanting God’s will (what ever He allows) and to serve our spouse, not wanting to be served. We are supposed to be loving our spouse like Christ has loved helping to guide them to Life. Sure receiving love is great, but we aren’t supposed to seek that, we are supposed to seek to love. And if God wills us to be doted over and receive much love, great; and if God wills us to be treated poorly and neglected great. All God wills is great–the good and bad. Everything God wills is perfect for the salvation of our souls, if we trust in Him. He will guide us right to Him through the cross if we look to learn and grow closer Him through our suffering. Do we believe God, from His great love for us, allows everything to lead us to Salvation and doesn’t lead us to our doom? Then why fret when we have trouble, challenges and suffering come about? Where is our faith? We should fear nothing that occurs in life, it is all good and God’s plan, even horrible things, that God will strengthen us and lead us closer to a saving faith and perfection.
“Jesus’ joy and satisfaction were all founded on much suffering for His Father’s glory” ( St. Anthony Mary Claret).
Sadly, we don’t want to truly follow Christ and “serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13) and “take up his cross” (Luke 9:23). Most of us crave love and only want to give it if we feel we are getting it or could get it or if it makes us feel like we are good people (to boost our pride) or to just make the peace (because we don’t like arguing)…not for the love of God in each other (especially the difficult people) bearing our cross when we are hated or not appreciated in return. Christianity calls us to help one another towards Salvation by being an example of how to live the faith that love of love of the cross, which brings us to Christ. The runing from the pleasures of the world and choosing the cross is the way to salvation.
I’m not saying to let someone sin against us over and over again causing us great harm. We need to look to God for help so we can learn what to do so to guide others, who are truly harming and keeping us from knowing, loving and serving God, to love and listen to God, especially if our example of love doesn’t move them to turn from their sinful ways, as He guides us to a safe healthy way of life that leads to Eternal Paradise. But we must understand suffering–if it is from the imperfections of others, physical pain or from our own wrong choices–yes, all suffering, is meant to help us learn God’s blessed ways and atone for our sins as beautiful penance to help purify our very sinful souls–especially from our worldly attachments–to lead us to Life. The gift of the cross is so magnificent, but tragically most just don’t want it. It is the very medicine God provides us to heal us of our sinfulness, but we reject the Lord’s care for our souls.
“Those who suffer in accord with God’s will [trusting in Him] hand their souls over to a faithful creator [who will heal us]” (1 Peter 4:19).
We tend to say,”whatever God wills” with our words, but in our hearts don’t really mean it as our fretting, complaints and despair develop when the cross comes. Oh, the anxieties we suffer from that God wants to remove. Sadly, our faith is mostly only in words. We want to be saved by the faith, but we don’t want the cross to carry to get there. We need to learn how to silently suffer for the love of God and silently choose the cross for the salvation of souls. Anyone can praise God in the good times but only those who love Christ and are seeking a saving faith, praise Him in their suffering. Anyone can be forced into having less but only those who love the cross chose to have less when they can have more. This life of joy in our suffering ins’t just for saints, but is a gift given to anyone who truly desires to love and follow Christ. Truly, the message of the cross is still foolishness to us, since we don’t yet have the faith to understand we are called to suffer and sacrifice for the Heavenly Kingdom..and for those who grow enough in their faith, it will be the source of great joy as it will bring them closer to Christ and help save the soul’s of His children.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
We don’t understand the cross–how the cross is meant to help us detach from the world and attach to God–because we lack grace. Then we prove our rejection of the cross (lack of grace) over and over again as we comfort those who are suffering proclaiming the cross as something terrible and not God’s will saying, “God doesn’t want you to suffer, go to Him to heal you.” Oh, the horror! How confused are we? Did all of the saints suffer greatly because God didn’t want that? Not at all. We just don’t understand the beauty in suffering. God entered the gates of paradise through the cross and we, who are supposed to follow Him, for some reason don’t think we need the cross too. Sure God wants to heal us but a lot of the time that isn’t done by removing our suffering as the cross is the greatest way to heal our souls. First and foremost, God wants to do what is best for the salvation of our souls. And a lot of the time, suffering is the Way.
“You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to Heaven” (St. John Vianney).
Sometimes God simply wants us to suffer so we can ask Him for a healing to experience His healing love, because we don’t have the grace yet to love the cross and the next step for us to grow towards a saving faith is to experience God’s healing love. For many, when we run to God to heal us, He will take away our suffering, but God doesn’t do that because He doesn’t want us to suffer, but because the suffering we had was enough (what was best in God’s plan for our salvation). However, after God heals us, He wants us to see His love and turn to Him in great gratitude to love Him in return so we can grow towards a saving faith. But few, very few love God (seek to amend their sins and follow Him) in return. Most just want more and more healing, but never gain real gratitude to truly love Him. God’s heart is crushed.
Please understand, if God allows us to suffer, He most certainly wants it that way. He doesn’t want us to suffer so our cross crush us. Our crosses only crush us, if we don’t trust in Him and don’t go to Him for our strength. I know that is really hard to understand when someone is suffering a horrific tortuous agony, but just trust that God knows what He is doing. Let go of our will and surrender to His. All He allows if for the good of our souls…for those who trust in Him. However, if we don’t trust in Him to use our suffering for good, we will fall away from God and maybe even loose Him. I promise you no pain, even the most hideous earthly pain doesn’t comes close to the eternal fires of Hell….this earthly suffering–even though we think it is unbearable at times, in comparison with Hell, is nothing. Don’t run from it…embrace it as God’s will and learn and change. God knows we need our suffering and loves our suffering–when it is done for love of Him. So we must resist the devil’s temptation to shun suffering; it can be so beautiful and lead right to Life…just like the criminal being crucified with Christ.
“The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory [Heaven] through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little” (1 Peter 5:10).
Tragically, whole churches will be in dismay and distress over some tragedy, crying out to God, “why” as they wail outside of faith and trust forgetting that Our Lord allows is to lead us to good for those who trust in Him. It is terribly sad our great lack of faith. But, we don’t need huge sufferings to be in distress over what God allows; we don’t want the cross in the little things too. If we are running late, sick, tired, hungry, insulted, etc. oh we are lacking love in a big way. By countless inconveniences we are tested with, and we show our lack of grace (lack of faith) and hatred of the cross as we prove over and over again we want things to go well. All of these little crosses, our tiredness, sickness etc. are all temptations God allows so we can open our eyes to SEE our sinfulness. That when we act outside of love, no mater what the excuse we might have for doing so, we don’t have the faith we proclaim so we will run to Him for strength (grace) to truly repent and change. But we don’t examine our conscience and/or justify our sinful behavior as “normal” or blame someone else. But repeated–habitual–sin is only normal for the dying…not those living in the faith that saves. We simply repeat our selfish behavior because we want to feel well, we want everything to go as we like, and don’t want the cross; we want our will, not God’s.
When things go well we are praising God. But when the cross comes, we are a mess, not praising God for our hardships, but crying to Him for help to rid it, which simply proves our lack of true faith. Truly if we look into our soul we will see if we are content with what God allows going to Him for the strength to carry what He allows or crying that He removes our suffering. True faith is trusting in God that all He allows to happen is for the good of our soul, that He will use everything to teach us what to do so we an change and grow in greater holiness for the salvation of our souls.
But wonderfully even with our great lack of faith, God seeing our weakness (lack of grace/lack of faith) and will help us. However, that love He gives us is supposed to move us to want to love Him in return, not just seek to take more of His love, but LOVE HIM by working to sin no more and picking up our next cross, and even growing in faith to where we seek to find the cross (deny our self) and choose it just like Christ. When we cry out to God for help because we can’t bear to carry our cross, it is because we have rejected so much grace, from not amending our sins, we don’t have the strength (grace) to carry it. But this isn’t the kind of faith we want, one of seeking consolations and the removal of our cross. Why should we be consoled? We are the sinners. That is for those of weak faith–not a saving faith. We want to console God. He deserves our Love. We have offended Him. We deserve every cross from our great sinfulness. We should never be angry at the mistreatment others give us but grateful and bear it out of love for God to console Him for all of the atrocities that are committed against Him. We should want to give Him our love, not simply take His love. How do we really show someone we love them, by being willing to suffer indescribable pain out of love for them. That is true love, the love God showed us. People will do this for each other, but will we do this for Our Beloved Creator.
“But what is My [Jesus’] will, except that you should want to love Me above all things and not desire anything but Me” (Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden).
What Are Attachments
Oh the world–so much beauty, pleasure, entertainment, technology, riches, and power. The idolatry is everywhere. Attachments come in all sorts of forms for all sorts of different people and our different interests and desires we crave. Everyone is tempted to long for something different and there is a disordered attachment tailored made by the devil for each one of us…actually several tailored made attachments for each of us. We need to learn what they are so we can reject them if we want to choose God over our attachments. Wonderfully, God is right there waiting to help us…longing to help us, we just need to want Him.
But who wants to go to God and desire Him alone, when there is a flood of enticements to entertain us which keep us from our Creator? Who can surrender it all to love God? There is just so much to capture our minds and hearts. What discipline, what desire for God, we must have to even begin to walk on that path. Oh, how hard it is. Yes, “The road is hard that leads to life [heaven], and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). It might seem impossible to give up our TV, Social Media, Internet, Sex, Sport, Hobby, Travel, Job, Delicious Food, Friends, Family, etc. and if we feel that way about anything at all, no matter what it is, that is a huge sign that we are attached to the things of this world. Truly, if we find ourselves saying, “I can’t live without my spouse, friends, family, pets, phone, etc…I would die of boredom or loneliness without them…I need them. They are my happiness.” Then we are screaming we are attached to them.
All of this might sound very confusing, but God willing you will understand more clearly what attachments are and how to rid them after reading this article. There is much to understand. If we don’t have a strong relationship with God, we will run to the world to fulfill our desires. We all desire happiness and if we aren’t receiving it from God, we will go elsewhere. We will crave them and not God and if we don’t notice the problem and work hard to repent we will never have the relationship with God He wants us to have and reject Eternal Life too, all because we desired the world instead of Him. From a lack of true love for God from a weak relationship with Him there are different things we are attached to and different reasons why we desire the world, its pleasures, and its comforts and not Him alone.
Why We Desire the World:
- Consolation: From not seeking God’s comfort/approval alone, we seek to be consoled by man and look for smiles, complements, praise, approval, and pity.
- Love: Instead of desiring to give love only and being satisfied with what God sends us, from a lack of knowing God and having God’s love complete us, we crave love/attention from others and seek it out to feel valued, cared for, sexy, special, attractive, and to experience affection.
- Control: From not wanting to let go of our will and trust in God, we seek what we want hoping to feel satisfied and have things go as we feel is best.
- Power: From a lack of tolerance and understanding of others wrongs, imperfections and differences, we crave or even demand that people to do what we desire and become frustrated and angry when they don’t being unwilling to serve or tolerate others especially if they are inconveniencing us.
- Pleasure/Comfort/Laziness: From not wanting the cross and a lack of desire to truly follow Christ and serve others, we desire to be satisfied, seek the easy way, crave pleasure and personal comfort, while we hate being inconvinced and suffering, and don’t really want to serve nor work hard for the salvation of souls.
- Happiness: From not desiring God alone, we crave many things seeking them to indulge in worldly pleasures, that aren’t to know, serve or love God, that aren’t for His honor and glory, as a result we miss finding the happiness that God alone truly provides thinking what we really desire is somehow in the world, but it is God.
Attachments are much more than just desiring the “things” of the world as we can see from the few examples mentioned above. It is choosing anything that isn’t God and His will–anything not done for His honor and glory–basically it is choosing sin and even non-sinful things and seeking it for happiness.
We Must Have Love to Remove All of Our Attachments
“There is nothing but the power of love which can lead the soul from the things of earth to the lofty summit of heaven.” (St. Albert the Great, Doctor of the Church).
There are really countless things we can crave outside of God. We are attached to so many things, we would fall into despair if we really knew the truth of our sinfulness. And if we approach them trying to remove each one of them without love, it will seem impossible and frankly, it will be impossible. We aren’t that strong in self discipline to do it without love. But when we finally fall in love with God, and want to change out of love for Him, we will be willing and seeking to give up any and everything for Him. We will suffer any loss to love Him. Our love for Him will strengthen us and His love for us will strengthen us. Truly, we won’t want the world, not one pleasure any more…just God. With love, removing our attachments won’t be hard anymore…it will be easy. Then, we will only have to be vigilant we don’t put ourselves in harms way to where we could fall for a sinful pleasure or desire and loose our love for God. That precious love will have to be protected at all costs. We don’t want to loose it.
Truly, when our actions are driven by love…we will hate the word, not just with our words but with every action as we choose only the cross for love of Him. We will still live in the world, we just won’t want it anymore…for we will have found God and the perfect satisfaction He gives. We will happily give up it all for the love of Him. We won’t want one more delicious bite to eat, not one more warm welcome from a friend, nothing…but God’s love. But until we get there, we will have to do the best we can with the grace we have to see our hidden attachments and remove one more sinful attachment one day at a time the hard way, driven by fear of eternal suffering. Hopefully we will be able to remove enough attachments/sins to where we finally have eliminated the barriers that are keeping us from pinning away in love for God. Then God’s yoke will be easy and the burden light.
“Everything that doesn’t lead you to God is an obstacle. Tear it out and cast it far from you…You don’t conquer yourself [and your sinful desires], you aren’t mortified [living in self-denial/sacrifice], because you are proud” (St. Josemaria Escriva).
Sadly, most of us have a lot of problems, there is so much we love and desire that isn’t God. We don’t live for the cross; we aren’t trying to stop our sins; we live for the good life and are content with our offences against God. Sadly, most don’t even want work to fix them to draw us closer to God–we love sin. We don’t even want to see or admit our sins, and we just stay in our sinful ways as we drag others along with us to eternal doom loosing the love God desires to give to us on earth and for eternity. Tragically, we want to run to the world for pleasure–not God.
“Wretch that I am, for trifling, bitter pleasures I have a thousand thousand times forsaken these eternal and infinite delights. How could I think of despising such deniable rewards for such empty and contemptible desires?” (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church).
So many have never grown in love with God, have never felt His goodness because of our chronic love for sin and lack of sorrow. We don’t know what we are missing nor what to hope for. But if we can hear, we must change and obtain that love. We don’t want to die in our misery and bring our family and friends and those God has called us to save along with us to eternal suffering by our poor example. We must work hard to see our error and change, and be the example to others of blessed self-denial, beautiful picking up our crosses and fervently following Christ living the true faith before our hour comes.
“With disordinate love, on creatures, loving them, and being kept by them far from Me, the soul drowns” (God the Father St. Catherine of Sienna).
How to We Obtain God’s Love
To have the strength to battle against the devil we need to seek to “pray without ceasing” as the Word commands. Yes, this is possible, and when we develop more in our prayer life, God will teach us how to do just that. I have heard some say praying the Divine Office seven times a day is praying unceasingly, but that isn’t correct. Some might think is is praying words all day in their mind to God but that isn’t right either. Unceasing prayer isn’t something I can tell someone to do, it is a gift the God gives us. After we advance much in prayer life into contemplation, we will have a fantastic unity with Christ and be able to grow to where all we do is filled with love for God making everything a prayer to God. We need to make unceasing prayer our goal, but right now that isn’t necessary. First, we need to learn how to obtain much of God’s love in our hearts so we can remove all of the evil attachments that are destroying our life, and
The strongest source of grace (love) is given to us in the proper receipt of the sacraments, but the problem with that is most aren’t properly receiving them and wind up obtaining nothing. I speak about this problem and how to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, Holy Communion, and extreme unction properly is other articles. But until our hearts are properly disposed to receive the grace in those sacraments, we need to run to God in prayer. Yes, prayer. Even though, for the most part, the sacraments deliver the greatest grace in the shortest amount of time, pray is our never ending source of grace because we can pray unceasingly. The potential for fantastic spiritual growth comes from prayer.
Of course, we need to pray humbly (seek link at bottom of article), but we need to dedicate much time to prayer. Prayer should initiate all of our works throughout our day. It is very important that our first fruits need to be prayer. Our first thought in our mind when we wake up needs to be talking/praying to God…telling Him how you love Him and can’t wait to perfectly serve Him today (of course knowing inside, we need His help to even come close to perfectly loving or serving Him). Don’t barely wake up with only enough time to run out the door to work or Mass…that isn’t what God wants. God wants us to love Him enough to make private dedicated time for Him in the morning. We need God to start our day. Start off with waking up just five minutes early to give God just five minutes of our time. If we already have a prayer life, we might find that silly, but trust me it isn’t. Test and see if we can give God five minutes when we are used to procrastinating and running late. Oh, depending upon the habitual sins we have, we might have to make much change to give God just five minutes. But do what it takes to see to it that a few minutes of prayer happens…then work your way up to giving God a dedicated one hour of pray time in the morning before you start your day. Remember anything good, if we aren’t careful the devil will twist into bad. The evil one even does that with prayer too…so don’t pray for over an hour. Then it is time for works done for love of God and the salvation of souls…weather it is a job, chores, Mass, serving others, do it all to know, serve and love God trying to be united in God’s love so His will drives us, letting go of what we desire to do, being so flexible with what God allows. If we are bed ridden and can’t move then reading holy books by the saints in more than fine.
“Be intent unceasingly upon prayer, for it is impossible to crucify the flash [deny ourselves of the world], and much more is interior mortification [deny ourselves of our will] impossible for us and self-renunciation and the practice of virtues (which are beyond nature) without the help of Our Lord’s grace” (St. Peter of Alcantara).
There are really two kinds of attachments:
- longing for non-sinful things
- longing for sinful things
- longing for venial sin
- longing for mortal sin
Longing for anything sinful or non-sinful is a mortal sin (idolatry)…that rejects God’s gift of saving grace. Of course longing for something sinful, which is a mortal sin, is more damaging to our soul and God, and we should strive to rid them from our life first, but longing for venial sins and non-sinful things also leads to our death and can’t be ignored either. We can remove them along with the more damaging sinful things as much of the time they are easier to irridacate. We must long for God and Him alone is to be our God.
“Think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
What is a Sin
To know whether we are longing for something sinful or not, first we need to know what is a sin. A sin is anything we do that isn’t to know, serve or love God…anything that isn’t for God’s honor and glory. And if we just asked ourselves before we were to do anything if it was to know, serve or love God, then we would be enlightened to some of the truth of our actions. Sadly, for many literally every single thing they do in their life is for self love (not God), even if something “seems” good if our true conscience intention isn’t doing it for the love of God, then it is a sin, because we will be doing it for some self gain instead.
But lets assume we want (at least have a superficial want) to do all of the love of God, but we still don’t know how to honestly look into our souls yet and consciously make that change to live for God alone (we don’t have a true desire yet.) Then we need to learn what we do that is for self and what is for love of God. Here is an example of an ordinary life action most don’t understand which might help us to understand more clearly how deep our love for sin goes. For example in most instances something so simple as getting a manicure is a sin. It is indulging in the pleasures of the world (rejection of the cross) and doesn’t help us know, serve or love God. Therefor it is sinful–a venial sin yes, but a horrid sin none the less. Mostly, it is done as a form of vanity to feel pretty, special, or done because we think we deserve such pleasure…which are all sinful intentions driven from self-love (pride). But getting one’s nails done in and of itself isn’t sinful…let me explain.
We should “avoid seeking anything special for yourself” (St. Vincent Ferrer) for loving the cross doesn’t seek worldly pleasure. But lets say, your job truly insists you wear makeup and paint your nails because they demand that you must have a worldly appearance. Then if you really hate such vanities but have to do them, they aren’t sinful. (Of course if someone has that kind of job one should seek another). Anyway here is another example, lets say, someone’s daughter wants to spend mother daughter time together, and the daughter still desires the pleasures of the world and doesn’t yet understand the beauty/necessity of the cross. The daughter wants her mother to go out together and get their nails done. Yet, the mom–who loves the cross and tries to hate the world–seeks to persuade her daughter to do something different that isn’t derived from vanity, but her daughter still insists on getting their nails done. Then having one’s nails painted to serve God through loving our daughter and relenting one’s will for another isn’t sinful, as long as we don’t desire such pampering. But lets say, someone’s daughter wants to spend quality time with their mom and desires to go shoplifting together. Then even if the mom can’t persuade her daughter against that idea, one can’t participate in such an activity, even if it is to love one’s daughter, because shoplifting by itself is sinful. Therefore, for something to be sinful it needs to be sinful by its self or have a sinful intention for doing it…like vanity or self-indulgence.
If we are tempted to seek self-gratification, and go out and get our nails done because we don’t like how our nails look, that is a venial sin of vanity. But it isn’t a mortal attachment unless we habitually get our nails done from our attachment to that pleasure. Now, even though we might not be attached to getting our nails done, anyone who desires to truly love God wants to stop all sins and doesn’t turn a blind eye to any sin, even if it is committed one time and venial. If we don’t hate every offence we commit against God and truly seek to never commit it again, we lack true sorrow for that sin. Now, that venial sin of falling into temptation and getting a manicure, if we aren’t sorry for it, is now a mortal sin from being complacent with offending our Creator…which is a grievous sin.
Of course there are a billion different kinds of sins and attachments. Are we excited to partake in vacations, having a dessert, or visiting a friend. Well lets look if we are sinning since we must desire God alone. We must seek to do only things that are for the honor and glory of God….nothing that is self seeking.
“Do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
If we aren’t giving God honor and glory in all we do, who are we giving praise to…ourselves? Many of us run to the pleasures of the world looking for success with ministries, hobies, work, etc. so to gobble up the etc. seeking self-glory making ourselves idols.
Going on vacation, having a dessert, and having a visit from a friend aren’t sinful in and of themselves, but if we have a sinful intention for partaking in them or if we long for those things/desire them as we say, “I can’t wait to go on vacation, have that dessert, or see my friend” we are desiring them, not the cross, and not God, which makes them a sin. I’m not saying we can’t have emotions and not be excited to go on vacation if it is to know, serve and love God…vacations can be very exciting. But if we allow that to be on our mind and we aren’t delighting on God and how we can know, serve and love Him better while praying for the salvation of souls, but we are delighting on all of the “fun” stuff we will be doing, then we have allowed that activity to keep us from God (which is a sin) and if we long for it, it is an attachment. I truly don’t see how anyone can have an excitement with wanting to eat a dessert, and it not be sinful (seeking to indulge on worldly pleasures); we can’t claim wanting a dessert is for the honor and glory of God…because it is the rejection of the cross, it doesn’t straighten our bodies to serve God more perfectly. Really deserts/junk food has no benefit of goodness (unless there is nothing else to eat). They are only indulgences. “
“For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:7-8).
Any indulgence is turned into an attachment if we repeatedly seek it for pleasure. Wanting to partake in anything for personal pleasure, is always self-seeking, and not the Way of the cross, unless we are seeking it to strengthen and relax our weary body after we have served God and truly need to care for our bodies needs. Of course that is if it isn’t of itself sinful like so many people get caught into. How many people don’t have the relationship with God yet to where they long for God and want to spend every spare moment delighting upon Him, but what they choose to do to relax after work is watch the TV or internet…and they wind up relaxing with the devil. Oh, the source of the soul is the eyes…with countless corruptions that we willingly allow to enter. What a crime. How can anyone watch TV and not let evil in? The news–drowned with horrors and impurity–dripping with jealousy as one political party bashes the other. Who can watch with any secular TV or the internet and not let great evil/distractions from God into our souls…stay away. What ever we think we “need” to know or do to justify our actions isn’t worth it. We can live without it, but we can’t live with it. It leads to our doom. Find something else to do with your time. And if you simply don’t have the faith to let completely go of that attachment, find the least evil show possible to watch but decide with all of your heart to cut down your viewing time, little by little, until it is all gone. Praise God. No TV or internet entertainment is worth our eternal doom.
“[We must realize] the great importance of spurning everything beneath their feet and by being detached from things which come to an end on earth, and attached to things eternal” (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church).
watching a show that has any immorality …but if seek it for happiness, then it is . If we do something that is to And craving yummy deserts, or any food of any kind, is always an attachment. Having a friend come over and being excited spend time with them, in an of its self, isn’t sinful, but if we allow that to consume our mind just like anything else, we are delighting on them an not God, which is a sin. If we long for our friend to come over then it is an attachment. Any sin we habitually commit, is done so because we are attached to it. We must learn self discipline and how to calm our passions and make them only for God. “Those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires [and live in the Spirit desiring God]” (Galatians 5:24).
I want to go over a few common attachments to give everyone a better idea of sinful and non-sinful things we do that lead to becoming an attachment.
Attachments to Food:
Oh, food is a widely spread attachment. We crave a food…then we satisfy our desires. We don’t want to feel deprived and run to the world to satisfy our need. Sure, we need food to survive and we are supposed to crave nourishment, not out of an attachment to it, but out of a need for it. And that is good. However, like with anything “good” the devil takes it, if we aren’t very vigilant, and twists it into something bad. Instead of simply craving food to sustain our existence so we can go and serve God well, we seek it to satisfy our want for pleasure. We then eat the best tasting foods we can come across, which is not intentionally choosing the cross–for the salvation of souls. We love food, can’t wait to go out to eat. We indulge in gourmet cooking, tasty snacks, and all sorts of pleasures of the mouth, not in moderation only on the rarest of occasions to celebrate, but to indulge as we run from the cross to satisfy our bellies.
When we go to the store, we buy what our heart desires. Some foods aren’t sinful in and of them selves while others are. However like any thought, word or deed we can take any non-sinful thing and make it sinful by going to if outside of moderation for comfort and happiness (desiring it), when we should be desiring God alone. For example: drinking a cup of coffee if we are thirsty or tired isn’t sinful in and of itself (unless we do it as an indulgence), but longing for coffee because we can’t live without it to bring happiness, because we have become addicted to it and act poorly without it, makes it a deadly attachment. However, for things like smoking or partaking in drugs which are sinful in an of its self since they harm our tabernacle (the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit). Smoking one cigarette is sinful and longing for cigarette after cigarette (our addiction) makes it an attached to a sin which is an even more grievous and damaging of a sin than being attached to coffee. The same goes with indulgences. Indulgences are always sinful so eating candy, cake, dessert (unless it is part of a celebration), is always sinful since it is done so for personal gratification not to know, serve or love God in way of the cross. And if we crave (want them for happiness) those pleasurable things, they are attachments. We need to remember we are to desire God alone, and not make food our idol.
Sadly, we don’t look for the cross–to eat what we don’t like for the salvation of souls. We get what we want and reject self-denial. If we crave something, we run out and satisfy our desires for it instead of going without or choosing less to love God and only eating what we need. We love our selves so much more than the cross and prove it in how we satisfy our hunger and even delight and plan our day around our “food.” The horror of idolatry is so plentiful in our food!
“Their end is destruction [Hell]. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
The Word tells us “the weak person eats only vegetables” (Romans 14:1) if they still suffer from desiring pleasure from food. That is what we should strive to do if we struggle with food. Sure this is very hard for some of us from our very little grace (strength) to say no. There are people who have self-discipline (either from faith or natural gifts God has given them) and choose to eat less delicious foods, not necessarily for love of the cross and to reject the desires of the world, but for health or vanity reasons. Oh, what some of us will do to look good! These vanities must leave. Anyway, there are some who lack much self-discipline and have developed horrible sinful habits of eating pretty much what ever we desire applying little self-restraint. And are suffering the consequences on earth from such sins. This must be changed too. I’m not saying, we must stop over eating and choose the cross with our food choices on our own, with the proven little self-discipline (little grace) we have. But we MUST seek God’s mercy if we want to Live. He is our Savior. Not our selves. We don’t need any self-discipline with our temptation from food, we just need to desire to stop, honestly seek to obtain grace, be willing to work change and truly believe God can give it to us. Then we will learn how to refrain from delighting in the pleasures of this world.
Now, with that said, there are a few who simply don’t care about food. They can eat what ever they want…it is all the same. There is no joy in a dessert, a candy or a steak…no food brings them pleasure of any kind. God has removed their longing for satisfaction through food. They long for nothing. Of course they can still choose the cross with food, but their is no self-indulgence with anything they eat any more. God has rid them of their desire and liking for all food. We read about this with the lives of the saints. St. Catherine of Sienna didn’t even desire to eat any more…from her incredible longing for God alone, she had to force herself to eat so to sustain her life. She wanted nothing but God. Therefore, we should never judge anyone as to why they are eating what they eat. We simply need to look into our selves and see why we do what we do. What are we longing for? If it isn’t God, change and make it God alone.
Attachments to People
“When we desire anyone’s affection, we always seek it because of some interest, profit or pleasure of our own” (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church).
“My daughter do not seek sympathy from creatures. I want the fragrance of your suffering to be pure and unadulterated. I want you to detach yourself, not only from creatures, but also from yourself”(Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary # 279)
As St. Francis de Sales teaches, “Despise this world…I will no longer set my heart on you. My dear friends, my dear relations [family], let me no longer love you except with a holy friendship that can last eternally.” If we love above a casual love, we desire them…but we must desire God alone. All of the things we seek, will eventually leave and all that will matter will be God. We must love Him above all and desire Him alone. When we die, we want to be with the myriad of heavenly bodies adoring God, not left behind with the majority of the Christians, who were caught in the trap of the devil and refused to leave the trifles of the world. Will we choose God or the world that we have grown to love? If we lie to ourselves to cover our guilt, we can never repent and change.
Attachments to Things
Attachments to Entertainment
Attachments to Self-Glory
“There is nothing more loathsome to God than fondness for worldly glory” (St. Anthony Mary Claret).
Attachments to Our Will
For instance, it is very easy to become attached to someone because we desire the consolations, help and love someone give us and choose to repeatedly run to them, desiring them and the love they provide and not God. St. Ignatius of Loyola was very aware of the devastating effects of attachments and how they stood between us and God and the love we could give and experience. When he traveled, he didn’t want to travel with someone so he wouldn’t “look to his companion for help [etc.]…and have some affection for him; where as he wished to place all this confidence, hope, and affection in God alone“ as he wrote (in the third person) in his autobiography. How easy it is to crave the kindness of others.
The hardest attachment to rid desiring our will. There are a countless ways we seek our will, which most of us aren’t even aware. And until we rid the more blatant attachments, we won’t see them. We need to grow to despise ourselves (our will) to such an extent we wont’ seek it again. How easy it is to become attached to our will and be unwilling to let it go of what we want to accept what God has allowed and to do what God desires and now what we want; resulting in us not trusting in God to lead us to Heaven but instead trusting in ourselves and fretting when things don’t go as we plan.
We can also become easily attached to the praise, pampering and comforts of the world not looking to suffer and sacrifice everything of the world to carry our cross with Christ for the salvation of souls, but looking for personal pleasure. St. Isadore of Seville also speaks of how he refused to eat meat “not because meats are evil…but because banquets of these things produce pleasure of the flesh.” Oh, how easily we are driven to pleasure and how hard it is to remove our attachments to them. We run to them and not to sever and sacrifice for souls but to serve and pamper ourselves by countless things hoping they make us happy, when God is waiting for us to truly seek to live the faith and come to know, serve and love Him so He can bless us with the perfect peace He has desires to give us.
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
The problem most of us have with reading God’s Word, is we look at any list of sins and see some we don’t think we commit and then declare we are just fine…but look again. Perhaps you don’t partake in orgies, but orgies are put on a par with being selfish. Find that absurd, well it isn’t. Truly, we must strive to stop sinning all sins or we simply won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Really, if we look at the more serious sins and then negate to examine our conscience for the rest we will die just the same.
Even though in the above list of “why we seek the world” I separated happiness into its own category, however, it is pretty much the sum of all of the above reasons and why we do anything. We commit any sin hoping for happiness. The devil gets us to forget God and His will for us provides perfect happiness and then we seek the joy we want else where. If we want to indulge in the pleasures of the world to bring us happiness like going out to eat, going on vacation, going shopping, getting our hair and nails done, watching sports, news, a sitcom, being with our family and friends, partaking in a sport, using social media, or a billion other things, and we long for that, then we are choosing the world, and rejecting the cross of Christ for the pleasures of the world. That is quite sinful and deadly…and tragically most of us are clueless of our constant rejection of the cross for the world. We are supposed to live a life like Christ in self denial and picking up our crosses not seeking to remove them. Oh, how many of us spend our day thinking about those worldly things waiting for when we can partake in them and not God? How tragic! God is to be our everything, not the world. We have been trick into living for the world.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
If we have to do those things I mentioned to know, serve or love God, or anything like those things, that is ok, but we can not make them our source of happiness and desire them or we will become attached to them. The problem much of the time, if we do partake in those things, perhaps to be with our children who need to play much, or if we are with some of weaker faith who can’t or doesn’t want to carry a constant cross for souls and still needs the world to not be depressed since they don’t have the fulfilling love of Christ, or we still haven’t grown enough to rejoice constantly in the cross or for any other righteous reason, much of the time when we do partake in worldly pleasure, we are tempted into seek to do them again looking for the happiness they bring…longing for it and not God. All it takes is to long for one pleasure…then we desire that worldly pleasure over God. God tells us to only long for Him and Him alone. We should avoid all addicting pleasures; once we be become enticed, we very well might become hooked and seek them and not God.
“Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
Partaking in or desiring any of those things if our true intention is to know, serve or love God doesn’t make doing those things sinful at all, but most of the time we partake or want to partake in those worldly pleasures because we don’t want the cross and want to live a life of pleasure. Enjoying an occasional sport or playing an instrument or singing, etc. and having fun outside is perfectly fine to revitalize our bodies so we can carry our cross well, as long as we aren’t longing for that time and we are doing it for the honor and glory of God. Relaxation and recreation can help the body become stronger to serve God more perfectly. However, partaking in them outside of God’s will, at the wrong time or outside of moderation/need is where the sins comes in because once we begin doing them outside of moderation, we begin to love and desire them…then they are our idols and aren’t for strengthening our bodies but wearing it out. They aren’t for God’s honor and glory but our own personal pleasure as we choose them instead of serving God.
“[Certain forms of recreation] should be only a little and very seldom…since by doing otherwise you put yourself in danger of loving it” (St. Francis de Sales)
Rest is fine also and needed to serve God well. However, the devil takes all good and tries to warp it into excess…then we won’t wake up early to give our first fruits to God; we won’t stay up when tired to finish our prayers, we will love our pillow, our self-comfort, more than knowing, serving or loving God. Imagine choosing Hell because we loved our pillow more than God. Oh, we must be alert. Sadly, we mostly use the world to satisfy our sinful passions. And only if we honestly look into our intentions will we even see our error as the devil will have us justifying everything so we can continue in it.
Our goal is to reject all of the world’s pleasures and choose the cross perfectly. Perfectly surrendering our will for God…even if it is partaking in a worldly pleasures. For when we do come to love the cross, partaking in the worlds pleasures will be more painful than any cross because we will have come to hate pleasure and prefer suffering for souls. Truly the cross is the way to true happiness and salvation. We are to strive to emulate the saints that lived for the cross. But in the beginning of this journey, if we are still weak, and can’t live a constant cross, we can of course partake in some kind of pleasure but little by little we will be removing it and always longing for our life to be the perfect image of Christ striving to make a perfect sacrifice of the pleasures of this world to follow Christ. This cross–rejection of the world–is foolishness for those who are perishing, but if we can hear…we will know giving up the pleasures of this world is the Way of Christ, and the Way to Heaven. Follow the saints…they left the world for a reason; we need to too. We need to change and LIVE THE FAITH.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
If we now can hear and finally realize we have been only living part of the faith then we need to work hard to change. Truly, if our heart or mind chooses to crave or delight on anything other than God, we are rejecting God for the world and if we aren’t resolved to remove those attachments, we are in fact rejecting God’s saving grace–committing mortal sin–by the very things God gave to us as gifts to help move us towards Life. Yes, the devil turns God gifts–the good things God has made–into stumbling blocks and vices, and we reject God’s love because of our attachment to them. Sadly, we have allowed the evil one to turn the world into something very sinful for us that robs us of God’s grace.
“Knowledge of all good…is the fruit of the cross” (St. Theodore the Studite)
What knowledge that we need to find a saving faith comes from denying ourselves and picking up our cross. It opens up our souls to receive God’s love–wisdom. It leads right to Heaven. God tells us if we wish to truly love Him, we must let go of our desires that aren’t Him and to seek Him alone. And God is the cross, they are one. St. Theodore inspires us to choose the cross by saying “the cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self [that loved the world].” If we have spent our entire life loving the comforts and pleasures of the world, how long do we think it is going to take to learn how to let go all that we have grown to love to love God? Well, for some we change rather quickly as some allow great grace into our souls, but others who don’t open up their souls as much as others, might need to spend their entire life working hard to remove our every attachment so when their hour comes they pine only for God and are truly sorry for when they have failed to love Him above the enticements of the world.
“In order to embrace what is best…rid themselves of the attachment[s] which they have to the thing[s] acquired, in order to find in peace God our Lord, and be able to save themselves” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).
If we take God’s gifts, like any of the above pleasures, and allow God to transform them from a distractions and into a tool and a real gift to help us grow in the likeness of Christ then they won’t be a disordered attachments anymore but a blessing. However, until we work hard to rid our attachments, sometimes even removing them completely from our life–if necessary–we will still loose God’s spiritual food He wishes to give us by choosing the world over His love. We must choose to leave the world and seek God’s love if we want to gain a saving faith. Truly, we can’t desire anything but God alone and we must love God above everything. All of the things in this world are supposed to only be used to fulfill God’s will so we can know, serve and Love God more perfectly–not so we can run to them for consolation and happiness. God is waiting to fill our every need, but we need the faith to experience it.
“[For those who have enough faith] God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)
How to Rid Our Attachments
To remove our attachments and grow in holiness, we need want to remove them. Getting to this point in our faith to where we honestly desire to remove all of our attachments takes much grace, as we might say we want to remove our attachments, but in our heart we don’t really want to…we still deep down seek them. We don’t have enough fear of the Lord yet to really drive our actions to change. But we need to see every attachment as a poison, a toxin that corrupts God’s perfect love from living in us. Every attachment we love rejects God’s perfect love. Therefore, we must rid our life of all poison. After seeking God, and gaining enough grace to motivate and strengthen us, we will hopefully one day finally be willing to let all the poison go.
But to get started in removing our attachments we don’t have to seek to remove everything…even though it is best to have a true complete desire to surrender it all to come to truly love God, we don’t have to wait for that desire to become true to get started. Sometimes, our desire to leave the world won’t be true…but we are willing to leave some of the things we desire that isn’t to know, serve or love God. Removing something is better than nothing. Every attachment we can leave, will stop us from rejecting God’s some of God’s grace and help us. Then hopefully we will receive enough grace for our heart to finally burn with the desire to save our souls and love God and nothing of this world.
“Holiness means overcoming ourselves. It means having perfect victory over all our passions. It means truly and constantly disregarding ourselves and despising the thing of this world to the point of preferring poverty to riches, humiliation to glory, and pain to pleasure” (St. Padre Pio).
Did we hear what the goal is that St. Pio said? We are to desire the cross…and nothing of pleasure if we want God and to receive the full pleasure on Earth and for Eternity that Our Lord provides. Wow! What a goal…but that must be our goal if we wish to receive Life. Now even if we want to remove all of our attachments at one time and live for the cross, we won’t be able to. Sadly, we can’t instantly open up our hard hearts to accept enough of God’s grace to do it. It would be wonderful if we could, but no saint has ever been able to let go of the world so perfectly instantly when God touched them with the truth. Not that will we would even be able to see all of our attachments at once either, but we can’t remove them too fast or we would die of loneliness, boredom or grief.
Without the faith to fill us–without God’s fantastic grace to give us His incredible peace and happiness, loosing the things in this world we adore, that we have gone to for our happiness day after day, would be incredibly devastating and might even lead us to despair and greater sin, if we were to try to remove them all together. Without the faith, losing our attachments is very painful and some of us aren’t strong enough to withstand the temptations that comes for their loss and might fall right back into sin or even greater sin if we leave them too quickly. Therefore, since we have made many attachments our source of happiness and not God for so many things, removing needs to be at a moderate rate based upon the faith we do have and the faith we will obtain along our journey, so we don’t fall into despair and quit working towards Salvation. But be aware don’t allow the devil to use this as an excuse to “say” we are working on changing, but in the honesty of our hearts, we really aren’t. God reads our minds and probes our hearts and knows fully well if we have a real plan to remove our attachments or not.
To begin lets look for our idols. Ask ourselves, “What do I do with my spare time?” Do we run to pray and be with God? Probably not. Well, what is it that we do we do? We probably run to something in the world that we like to do or think is relaxing…not to our Beloved Lord who is waiting for us to spend time with Him. Sadly, we probably don’t choose to spend our time doing something that is “good” which helps us to know, serve or love God more perfectly. Most of us have been tricked and believe we only have to give God some of our life and the rest can go to our selfish desires. But choosing to anything that isn’t to know, serve or love God choosing sin and if we don’t wish to remove those sinful delights we have, we choose eternal suffering. Therefore we must change.
To remove our sins, we need to become organized just like we would with any big important goal we would want to accomplish. We won’t continue to repeat the same failing plan over and over again. We will little by little, daily CHANGE. What is more important than seeking Eternal Life. That needs to be our life’s goal. Seeking to stop sinning and learning how to truly love God isn’t any different from what we would do to get an A in a challenging class we were taking. If we really love God and truly want to stop our sins, we will come up with a plan to obtain the goal. We can’t fail. If we really understood, we won’t be so lazy and careless to just go by the fly of our pants not really seeking the best way to do this. We will study (the saints books & Catechism and of course the Word). We will learn from those who have successfully found salvation on how to obtain it. There is too much misguidance out there…stick with the saints; they have proven to know the Way. (To obtain a list of some great books of the saints click here.)
I don’t want to suggest the greatest form of obtaining knowledge and wisdom is from the saints or the Catechism even though they are must reads, but the greatest way to grow in knowledge and wisdom of the truth is ridding our life of sin, combined with reading the Word, COMBINED with prayer of contemplation. We need to learn how to pray humbly so we can advance in prayer to contemplation. That is where the real wisdom comes from. That is also how God is going to purge our habitual sinful desires that run so deep with in us too. Mortification–sacrificing our habitual sinful ways–can only go so far…we need the deep spiritual healing power from God and that mostly comes from prayer of contemplation. We can read and read and gain some knowledge…but the powerful wisdom comes from humble prayer–humble contemplative prayer. (To learn more click here.)
When we begin to remove our attachments and grow and grow in love of God, we will develop a true disdain for what we once loved. As our love for God grows, and the greater it grows the greater strides we will take in removing sin and growing in wonderful holiness and happiness. When we first start removing our attachments, we might begin with a small fast from something. During that time we might feel greatly tempted to partake in our attachment and if we have grace or discipline or both, we might be able to combat that desire. For example: lets say we are attached to indulging in ice cream after dinner and we long for our desert. We can easily see longing for ice cream isn’t done to know, serve or love God. It isn’t to provide our bodies with nutrition so we can better serve God. It isn’t choosing the cross of Christ, so therefore it is a sin. Longing for anything other than God leads to death, therefore, we need to remove our attachment for ice cream. To do this, we need to look honestly into ourselves to see how much love we have for God and natural discipline, then we will have an idea of how much of a fast we can make and be successful. Some people still have such little love for God that sacrificing anything they desire will seem almost impossible to succeed in and if we lack self-discipline too it will be impossible. But if we have any real love for God, we can surrender something at least to a very small degree to grow in love and faith. And if we have self-discipline we can increase our sacrifice even greater. The bigger the sacrifice the better as long as we are successful. Therefore, depending upon the person, our fast will be adjusted accordingly.
We want to be successful in our fast, even though failure is acceptable too and God’s will. As it proves our great weakness and great need for God and will hopefully spur us ever greater to run to God, with a humbled softened heart, when we “see” our real lack of faith and hopefully accept more of God’s grace (help). Nonetheless, when we start with a fast…and great temptations come along, those temptations are needed and allowed by God for our good, since “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). Therefore, lets say if we have sexual temptations…they aren’t coming from no where. Look for the source. Chances are we are not watching or participating in perfectly pure things and feeding our desire, even if what we are partaking in seem good enough; it isn’t. Just look and you will see the impurity. It might not be rated R material but the slightest sensuality can feed someone’s lustful desires, not starve it and cause great temptations…then in our weakness it can very well lead to grave sin. I’m not saying we, as human beings, don’t have natural inclinations to procreate, eat, etc….yes, we all desire things that are good and needed. But that natural good desire, the devil, knowing our weakness, makes it into a tailored temptation just for us to use against our unnatural desires that are with in. That is what we need to combat…our unnatural desires…our lusts, our greed, etc. that still dwell within.
When we fast from our ice cream and succeed, then we praise God and increase our fast the next time until we allow God to remove the desire for that indulgence completely. Not only will the temptation for ice cream leave, but I tell, a disdain for ice cream will develop. We will fully realize we actually preferred ice cream over God. How absurd is that! And we will gain a holy disdain for ourselves and for ice cream…we certainly won’t long for it any more. We will long for God. However, if we allow sin to enter in us again and grow that desire again, that temptation will reoccur. And we will have to return back to the beginning and start all over again.
The more love we have for God and the more self-discipline we have, the greater success we will have and the greater sacrifices we will be able to make. However, if we only have self-discipline (a gift from God) and not much love for God, we will be tempted and tempted to partake in our attachment when fasting from it. We might be able to restrain from it because of our self-discipline, but we know we lack the love of God because we are still craving something else. But when our love for God grows, we won’t have the craving to indulge in it anymore. That will leave. Now, if it pops back for a moment that doesn’t necessarily mean we have fallen from grace and need to start all over again…no, God could just be testing us. This test will, if we pass or fail, will show us if we are lacking the grace or not. Please understand, what we once looked forward to indulging in will be a thing of the past when we grow in true love of God. Something that was once a hard to sacrifice (give up) and was very challenging to remove, that we once pined for, will be truly hated and easily passed up to love God alone. The yoke does become easy and the burden light.
If God wills, from our greatly increased love for Him–from the removal of our sins and attachments–we could begin to experience great spiritual joys from Our Lord like the saints have described…hopefully, never desiring them, but if God wills, when we truly surrender the world and only seek Him and His will, much of the time He rewards us greatly. Those rewards are to motivate us and keep us moving forward towards perfection. Now with those rewards, we might deceive ourselves in several ways and the evil one will try to turn something good into something sinful–like he does with everything.
We might begin to pride ourselves and think because of all God is giving us and doing through us we are somehow better than another. Which couldn’t be further from the truth, but to the proud, who looks at the exterior or gifts might make the huge mistake and give credit to the person with the “gifts” not God. Horribly, we might think we are somehow better than another because of them. Oh, what a sad blind state that is. Many can grow a bit in the faith and be taken completely down from horrid pride. Do we not know we are nothing…nothing. If we remove God from moving our actions, we are horrid wretches who desire the world and all of it’s pleasures, not God. We are an abomination of love. But the devil convinces some that we are some how good. But remember we are just the same wretch. God is the good. If we take credit for our “good” choices and works, we are taking credit for God’s work. It is no different than blatant plagiarism. We have done nothing. But somehow think we deserve the glory. How can we take any credit for what isn’t ours…GRACE has done everything. We must take credit for nothing, for truly it isn’t ours.
If we forget who we are, because of all of the bounds of love and encouragement God gives us, hopefully God will bless us and strip us from experiencing His love, so we can clearly see that without Him, we are truly nothing at all and then crawl back to our Lord with a truly humble heart that seeks nothing but His will truly know our nothingness.
Nonetheless, when we successfully remove all that isn’t to know, serve or love God, we will be perfect. And it all happens one step at a time…never quitting and growing and failing along the way, but always changing and learning God’s blessed ways.
After we begin to remove our obvious attachments, the challenge is coming to know our hidden desire for sin. Even if we can’t see a sin we love, we still choose that over God. Just because we have become really good a covering a sin doesn’t mean we aren’t still held accountable for it. Therefore, after our obvious sins are removed by God’s grace, then we need to begin looking for the less obvious ones. We need to open up our mind the the reality of our great sinfulness so God can enlighten us. This is done by prayer and asking ourselves Why? Why do we desire something? Some desires are good and driven from God and are given to us so we can know, serve and love God and others aren’t.
Some of our hidden disordered attachments can be greatly damaging to our spiritual growth and others sadly we might still need because of our lack of faith, we won’t eve be able to let some things go and not fall into despair since we don’t have God’s grace to fill us and complete us with His love and peace. However if we have successful removed our obvious larger attachments and much sin and grown in grace, and believe we are ready to move onto the lesser, yet still equally as deadly, lesser disordered attachments, then we need to ask ourselves WHY we do, don’t do, enjoy or dislike anything. Sadly, we will find many hidden loves of sin in much that we do or want.
There are too many variables that we fall into sinful attachments for me to even begin to enlighten us to the depths our this kind of misery we have. Therefore, we really have to seek out God in prayer to enlighten us to learn how to correctly examine our conscience to come to know our true misery. However, I do go into much greater depth in the book, “Remove the Obstacles” available at LiftingOurValues.com. But in this article I will only give a couple of example as to what this kind of examination entails.
For example: If we go to Church and we desire to see a particular person, we need to ask ourselves why? If we want to talk to a person on the phone, we need to ask ourselves why? Are we attached to the love and approval they show us? Are we allowing them to be distraction from God knowing, serving or loving God because we seek their love and their smile? Do we want their companionship? Why? Have me make God our everything…or without our friends we are feeling alone? Have we allowed people to replace the perfect contentment of God and the perfect companionship He provided?
I’m not saying we don’t need others to help us in our work or spiritual journey…Sure for some we are still so weak, so broken and needy, we need the dotting and affection of thers
Perhaps they inspire us to love God more perfectly, which can be wonderful but for some it can be an attachment and a distraction from trusting in God. Do we see the beautiful Lord in them and want to smile upon His splendor and give our love? Why do we do what we do? Only with honesty can come to know our real attachments and real reasons why we do anything. Then we can learn if what we are doing is for good or bad. We can oh, so easily tell ourselves what we think is the right reason for doing something, lying to ourselves pretending that is why we are doing what we do so we can continue in our sinful ways. Be alert! Now there is no sin in liking someone and loving the beautiful person they are whether it be a friend, spouse, or child, etc. and we enjoy the wonderful love they give, but if we look into our conscience and see we are desiring them–to make us happy, to approve us, to complete us, etc.–when our heart should be only desiring God to bring us happiness, approval, completion, etc. then that is a problem. God should be our everything. We have allowed ourselves to become attached to someone. We need to only desire God as our source of joy and happiness. If others make us happy that is fine, the sin is if we seek the happiness from them when we should be seeking it from God alone.
Removing these lesser attachments to people’s affections, unless they are very great and strongly pulling us away from God, shouldn’t be attempted until we remove our larger attachments first, because we might need those attachments to people since we don’t have the faith–God’s love–to be without them. Yes, of course, recognize the sin, hate the sin and be resolved to remove it, but not until we have the strength and love of God to do so. And we won’t have it if we are still drowning in countless other graver attachments.
Why do We Love the World
From concupiscence (the desire to sin which is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin) we desire the pleasures of the world instead of God’s love. However, from the moment we recognize Jesus as Lord, we are supposed to make a choice to leave the world, or at least want to leave the world and begin to remove our attachments so to grow into a saving faith that truly loves God’s above all. But we have been deceived into believing we can love/desire the world and still be a true follower of Christ, but we can’t. That lie needs to die, as it kills.
Please don’t get caught into the trap and say, “I don’t love anything over God.” when our actions prove so very clearly we love many many things above God. Most of us know what it is like to really love someone above anything else. They are on our mind all of the time; we want to spend every free moment with the; we do everything for them and would do anything for them. That is true love. But most are far from having that kind of love for God because we have given our hearts to the world and not God.
more coming soon.