Yet a Little More About Detachment


Incrementally, the discussion continues. Please bear with me. As people bring up points, it seems that there is more to say.

Today's point--detachment is not a comfortable or easy exercise.

Below a commenter says that "it is easy to slip from detachment to indifference when it is difficult for you to form attachments anyway." Part of that statement evokes a certain misunderstanding of what detachment is. First to repeat: the point of detachment is to love God and the love of God needs some expression. That expression is found in love of neighbor and self. Proper exercise of detachment becomes a discipline of self-giving.

The desire or habit of not forming relationships is an attachment itself. There is something that has proven successful about not forming relationships. So detachment forces one out of this stable mode and into the mode of loving God through loving neighbhor. Love without works is dead (as St. Therese implies). And Jesus tells us, if we love Him, we will keep His Commandments. One of His commandments is feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. When becoming detached from our own preferences and our own desires, the road to indifference is a temptation, but not when the way of detachment is clearly the way of the cross.

Detachment is uncomfortable. It is a source of constant unease. It is constantly against the grain. If we would rather not become involved, then we are attached to the concept of non-involvement. And it is from this that we may have to work particularly hard to escape.

This is where detachment becomes really difficult. It's hard to identify what the attachments are. Sometimes they are defense mechanisms so thoroughly ingrained we can't see them. Sometimes they are participation in a really good thing. For example, if you absolutely must go to a Latin Mass--you wrench your schedule, the schedule of your friends and family, and generally discomfit and discombobulate everyone and everything around you in the search for a Latin Mass, that is a pretty certain sign of attachment. If you go to a Mass in English that, except for being in English, is otherwise properly conducted and carp about the music, the way the prayers are said, whether one is standing or kneeling, etc.--you are probably attached. When you cannot see Jesus for want of your preferences, attachment is indicated. John of the Cross says that even when you prefer your food prepared a certain way and will not eat otherwise, that is an attachment. (Obviously this is aside from doctor's orders. In fact, the unwillingness to follow a doctor's orders with respect to food indicates attachment.)

So, one of the difficulties is identifying the attachments. That is where prayer, patience, and focus help. If our eyes are on Jesus and we truly love and adore Him, everything else fades into the distance. Jesus truly becomes Lord of our life, and detachment from created things is a natural corollary. We might start by working at detachment, but unless our eyes are firmly set on Christ and Him Crucified, we will quickly lose our way.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 26, 2003 7:36 AM.

Learning to Become Detached--Training in Love was the previous entry in this blog.

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