Saturday, June 18, 2016

Practicing a Spirit of Detachment

The readings for this morning are all about detachment.  I mentioned this in my last post and I'd like to elaborate.  Detachment to me means putting material things in their proper place.  That is they are to serve God and your family.  And you are to appreciate that they do this but not to the point that you neglect God and your family.  I'm guilty of slipping into this poor habit as I am sure many of you are.

It's something that Protestants often accuse Catholics of doing.  We have icons, prayer beads, crucifixes, etc decorating our homes and our Churches.  Naturally to an outsider it looks like we aren't focusing on God but are rather materialistic.  This may or may not be true. 

In contrast many Protestants have stark homes and churches devoid of anything else besides perhaps a Bible scene and a simple cross.  In the extreme, many avoid any of the symbols altogether.  This isn't healthy either.

Having religious objects and art are supposed to enhance our relationship with God.  Having nothing to aid one in this manner reminds me of the Biblical passages (which were also recent readings) of Jesus telling the disciples to wash ones face and look presentable while fasting.  In other words, you are purposely depriving yourself for prideful reasons.  It could be "I'm better than those Catholics" or "I don't need these things because I have Jesus" which is ridiculous because Jesus gives you those things to help you.  Jesus knows if you are practicing good detachment or not. 

Not to let the Catholics off the hook either.  Outside of religious objects, Catholics and Protestants do often go shopping and practice poor stewardship habits.  Are you researching to save money or are you obsessing over the object?  Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses or are you trying to make your appearance presentable to non-believers?  Is it really necessary or could you make do?  Do you thank God and take care of what he has given you or do you squander and mistreat it?  Could you give it to someone else who needs it more?

I would like to think that for Christians we practice proper detachment, but realistically we are all sinners.  If I find myself slipping down that oh so slippery slope of materialism like I so often do, I find that it's better to pray and do something productive. 

What do you do when you find yourself not practicing detachment?  How do you cope?  Do you put a freeze on spending for example and does that help?  Let me know in the comments.

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