Growing in Freedom

True Freedom[photo source]

Everything that exists is a gift from God. Yet oftentimes we look to the things and creatures created by God for a satisfaction and fulfillment that only God Himself can provide. When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world looking for satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself, and in others as well. Many spiritual writers call the process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging, and disordered seeking of things and persons “detachment.” The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Things and people become even more beautiful when we see them in this light. There are almost always painful dimensions in this process of “letting go” in order to love more, but it’s the pain of true healing and liberation. Christian detachment is an important part of the process by which we enter into a realm of great freedom and joy.

The Father communicates to Catherine of Siena some striking insights on why detachment is needed.

“For created things are less than the human person. They were made for you, not you for them, and so they can never satisfy you. Only I can satisfy you. . . . Do you want me to tell you why they suffer? You know that love always brings suffering if what a person has identified with is lost. These souls in one way or another have identified with the earth in their love, and so they have in fact become earth themselves. Some have identified with their wealth, some with their status, some with their children. Some lose me in their slavery to creatures. Some in their indecency make brute beasts of their bodies. . . . They would like to be stable but are not. Indeed they are as passing as the wind, for either they themselves fail through death or my will deprives them of the very things they loved. They suffer unbearable pain in their loss. And the more disordered their love in possessing, the greater is their grief in loss. Had they held these things as lent to them rather than as their own, they could let them go without pain. They suffer because they do not have what they long for. For, as I told you, the world cannot satisfy them, and not being satisfied, they suffer.”

…Catherine of Siena points out that even in this life the greedy, the envious, the revengeful, and the lustful are tortured by their disordered desires. They suffer through their own sinfulness, meriting nothing by it and refusing to heed the message of this suffering: to repent and return to the Father. Christians, in taking up the cross of Christ, can taste something of the joy of heaven in this life; so too, those who choose to follow their sinful desires take up “the devil’s cross, and taste the pledge of hell even in this life. Unless they reform they go through life weakened in all sorts of ways, and in the end receive death. They pass in hate through the gate of the devil and receive eternal damnation. . . . How deluded these souls are, and how painfully they make their way to hell—like martyrs of the devil!”

…The Life of a Christian is to be different than the life of the unbeliever. Like all human beings, Christians need certain things of this world to live, but Jesus calls us to be primarily occupied with living for the kingdom. If we do this, He promises that the things we need for life on this earth will be given as well.

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FADThe above excerpt was taken from Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints. For more great wisdom, pick up a copy today! Shop Now»


Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin is president of Renewal Ministries. He also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. Ralph holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome and is a professor and the director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and was also appointed as a “peritus” to the Synod on the New Evangelization. Ralph is the author of a number of books, the most recent of which are The Urgency of the New Evangelization, The Fulfillment of All Desire, and Will Many Be Saved? He and his wife Anne have six children and sixteen grandchildren and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

One thought on “Growing in Freedom

  1. Your article on detachment and St. Catherine of Siena reminds me a beautiful prayer by St. Teresa of Avila, Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away, God never changes, patience obtains all things, whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices.

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