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Saint Alphonsus on Detachment  June 2, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

A little excerpt from The Holy Eucharist on the practice of detachment, below.  Remember, this is a Saint writing primarily for religious and all details may not necessarily apply directly to your life.  Take what makes sense and apply it as you feel called to do, perhaps in consultation with a spiritual director.  I post these things to hopefully stir consideration on matters sometimes overlooked.  I certainly do not mean to cause confusion or uncertainty in anyone.

From pp. 371-2 with my emphasis and comments:

Whoever desires to love Jesus Christ with his whole heart must banish from his heart all that is not God, but is merely self-love.  This is the meaning of 06956ce2b3those words, “seeketh not her own;” not to seek ourselves, but only what pleaseth God. And this is what God requires of us all, when He says: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart” (Mt xxii:37).  Two things are needful to love God with our whole heart: 1. To clear it of earth[-ly attachments] 2. To fill it with holy love.  It follows that a heart in which any earthly affections linger can never belong wholly to God. [recall what I said above about religious] St. Philip Neri said, “that as much love as we bestow on the creature, is so much taken from the Creator.”  In the next place, how must the earth be purged away from the heart?  Truly by mortification and detachment from creatures.  Some souls complain that they seek God, and do not find Him; let them listen to what St. Theresa says: “Wean our heart from creatures, and seek God, and you will find Him.” [Some thoughts on the above.  We are of course called to love our families and friends, but we cannot have a disordered attachment to them in the sense that we love them more than God, or allow them to inordinately distract us from our progress in virtue/the interior life.  Likewise, we cannot be attached to any created things more than God, and really should limit our attachment to material saint-alphonsus-liguori-2objects, even though they may be goods in themselves given by God, to the maximum extent that we can.  That room we give up in our heart for created things can then be filled with God.  With regard to parents and spouses, obviously there is great good in the love that exists in these relationships and God wills that love to exist and grow.  But at the same time, it must be subordinate to our love for Him.  I know people whose vision of Heaven has nothing to do with God, it’s all about family or learning about the past and future and the like.  I fear for their salvation.]

The mistake is that some indeed wish to become Saints, but after their own fashion, they would love Jesus Christ, but in their own way, without forsaking those diversions, that vanity of dress, [you can and in certain stations in life should dress nicely, attractively.  But don’t be attached to that finery]  those delicacies in food:  they love God, but if they do not succeed in obtaining such or such an office, they live discontented; if, too, they happen to be touched in point of esteem, they are all on fire; if they do not recover from and illness, they lose all patience. They love God; but they refuse to let go that attachment for the riches, the honors of the world, for the vainglory of being reckoned of good family, of great learning, and better than others.st-alphonsus-2

Such as these practice prayer, and frequent Holy Communion; but inasmuch as they take with them hearts full of earth, they derive little profit.  Our Lord does not even speak to them, for He knows that it is but a waste of words.  In fact, he said as much to St. Teresa on a certain occasion: “I would speak to many souls, but  the world keeps up such a noise about their ears, that My voice would never be heard by them.  Oh, that they would retire a little from the world!” 

Whosoever, then, is full of earthly affections cannot even so much as hear the voice of God that speaks to him.  But unhappy the man that continues attached to the sensible goods of this earth; he may easily become so blinded by them as one day to quit the love of Jesus Christ; and for want of forsaking these transitory goods he may lose God, the infinite good, forever.  St. Teresa said: “It is a reasonable consequence, that he who runs after perishable goods should himself perish.”

———End Quote———

Hopefully I’ve provided enough context in the commentary above. I can say that the view towards attachments that St. Alphonsus provides is essentially identical to that found in Divine Intimacy.


1. Baseballmom - June 3, 2016

Beautiful thoughts, and excellent commentary on love for spouses, family, etc. Bottom line, to love them is to always desire their best – to desire heaven for them. To never sin to please them (eg, contracept for a spouse or lie for a child) and always have a right order in relationships.

2. tg - June 3, 2016

Thanks for the post. I have often prayed to detach myself form things and myself. My prayer to detach myself from liking to shop and buy clothes is beginning to be answered. The desire began to go away after this past Lent, Maybe it’s because I will be retiring after the end of the year. I really do think the Lord is answering my prayer on this one.

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