Do you want a more charitable heart? Detachment is the key.
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(NOTE: This transcription has been automatically generated through an AI program. Consequently, this transcript may not match everything you hear in the podcast episode, and it may contain errors such as spelling, grammar, word choice, etc., due to the limitations of current AI technology.)
Hey everyone, Welcome to season four of Midnight Carmelite this season, we’re going to be discussing detachment in relation to Saint John of the Cross. So, I just wanted to do something to kind of introduce this topic and it’s going to be in reference to me on why and how I stumbled on Saint John of the Cross. Getting to the point for us to understand why detachment is so important because if you don’t have detachment, what ends up happening is you take a lesser thing in place of God, essentially you make an idol of things.
I mean, and in making progress in the spiritual life is clearly particularly challenging in today’s world. But what Saint John of the Cross with all the Saints, frankly call us too, is that all human persons must engage in achieving holiness if they want to follow the greatest commandments loving God and your neighbor. I spent more than 10 years studying philosophy. I was trained in what would be called the to Thomistic tradition or the philosophia perennis in my study and learning. You know, I realized that you can know something or you can do something.
But if it’s not done in love and governed by love, and I don’t mean sentimentalism here, I don’t mean this notion of, you know, I just make people feel good and, I’m compassionate because I don’t help people see the truth of things. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean by love. Love is real charity and we’ll get into this later in the podcast season, what I mean by that is, you’re giving yourself to them.
So imagine between you and a person, you attach a string, okay? And, a rope, you two are attached by a rope to each other and that’s the moment you’re deciding to be charitable, to this person. The ropes attached. Okay? And what happens is you’re roped to that person and what you now, if you start running in one direction and the person starts running in another direction, the rope’s gonna tear, it’s gonna be a disaster. But if you look at the direction the person wants to go and assess and say, you know, in the light of faith with reason, you look, and you say, well, where is this person?
What’s his or her pains and problems? How can I help him or her? How can I help him or her become closer to God? In some cases, you know, to do that in my opinion, would be to say to them, hey, like you pull him aside privately, let’s say, and you’re like, hey, you know, I think you’re a little off the rails here, here’s x, y and z reasons, this is why I think you’re off the rails and you know, this is coming in the spirit. You know, we often say in the spirit of charity, I’m air quoting here.
You know, you could do something like that and like, there are times for that. I mean, especially when things are pretty obvious, but I would argue that especially in today’s society, we’ve made an idol of knowledge. So what I mean by it is this imagine you’re let’s do the rope thing again, You’re attached this person so you can’t, there’s no leaving the discussion because you’re roped and um imagine you when talking to this person, you say to them like, hey, you know, you should be, you know, you’re not reverent enough at church to pick something that’s easy to pick on.
And the person may say, well, how do you know that you don’t know my heart? And then you would respond Well, I see slouching and like it looks like you’re about to doze off half the time Now. I would say that in that dialogue. The point with it, despite my bad example is is that when you’re telling someone the truth or when you’re being meaning, you’re governed by charity and you’re speaking to them in truth. Charity’s governing and truth is flowing through charity. So charity is like a cloud and truth is coming through it.
It needs to be it needs to be fully informed by charity. That person may not be able to receive it at that time. Like, let’s say they’re running in the other direction from the rope. But the point is that is you have to understand that charity is about self gift to the other. You know, Christ didn’t show up to the woman at the well and be like, hey adulterer get your life in order. He said give me a drink. And that one question that he asked her to help him, that one thing changed this woman’s life changed that whole towns life.
She went and got everybody, you know, and I think that’s what I realized kind of looping all the way back. That’s when I realized when I was studying philosophy, is that for myself, I wasn’t doing that. I would, people would say, oh well what do you you know for example people maybe I know who don’t believe it, why do you believe this? And I’d start throwing St. Thomas at them because I read it and I knew it or or whoever else studying, not just Saint Thomas.
And what I realized though was in a way, I had made an idol of this. What I had done is I said, well if you just it’s almost Platonic if I had known if I had known what to say in a past conversation, that person would have seen the truth or if I had said things better and once they saw the truth, they would have done it and that’s not true because I would argue how I said it didn’t come forth and love it didn’t come through love, love charity being the form of all the virtues, which by the way, St. Thomas says that for those who are interested.
So the starting point of our love must be God, in other words, I was looking at these others and saying like, oh, it’s just a deficiency of knowledge and knowledge is the key. No, love is the key to being saved. And I didn’t really see that, like I would say that, but I didn’t see it. And I think one of the passages for me that just strikes me as if do you think of the incarnation, that’s God’s sign of love, right? He came to be man, he dwelled among us.
But if you look at the beginning of the gospel of John and this is, I’m translating from the Greek right now. It says in the beginning, I like to say at the origin, so at the origin was the word and the word was with God and God was the word. And obviously this God is Jesus Christ, the word, made flesh, who made his dwelling tent among us. Just another quick aside, you know, I love the Greek language, I love studying it, I love working with it, I love holy scriptures a lot and I love reading it in Greek, so you know, for listeners in Midnight Carmelite who have been listeners for awhile, you’ll probably, you know that for others who are new just to let you guys know, I’m gonna engage Greek all the time.
So it’s going to come out and that’s another thing biographically that plays into this because what happened was with the knowledge thing and with for me, at least in the Greek thing, what I realized is that I wasn’t living my life fully, I wasn’t fully loving and I found what I was looking for. I found its completion when I discovered Carmelite spirituality in particular Saint John of the Cross. And what it did is that built on and completed my understanding of the human person that I found in philosophy because towards the end of my academic life, my main focus was philosophy, the human person and this completion, what it did is it helped me to live the Gospel and come closer to Christ way more than I was able to do with philosophy alone way more and we’ll get into the philosophy faith mix later when we’re dealing with detachment.
So in short Carmelite spirituality, you know, changed my life and it gave me a spiritual path that leads to union with God. And most importantly, is I strive to live the Carmelite spirituality I write about, I just want to make that abundantly clear; to say it clearer, I strive to live the Carmelite spirituality I write about. So I don’t just write things, put it up there and be like, yeah, that’s for everybody else. No, no, it, most of the time, my writings for me and a lot of the inspiration of what I write about comes from things I’m dealing with or how I’m trying to grow in union with God following this path of Carmelite spirituality.
One of the major things though and questions I get from people and just kind of is, you know, where do you start? And I think that the path of Carmelite spirituality to attain union with God, you know, you’re going to have to go through Saint John of the Cross and and a lot of people struggle with him. Okay, I personally don’t and I’m not saying that in a bragging sense, I’m saying that he resonates with me the most because you know, he’s speaking and he uses theological terms.
He’s, you know, I love his poetry. I mean, the people complain about this is just my opinion. People complain about the poetry and the pros. I think it’s great together. I love it. It’s like, it’s very, um, it’s outstanding. So I have chosen particularly John of the Cross and obviously the other Carmelite saints to guide me this path and divine union in my life and we can trust them, I can trust them. So we’re going to start with detachment and we’ll start getting into that detachment. So Saint John of the Cross and his doctrine of attachment, you know, it’s often a huge roadblock and there’s a number of reasons for that.
One of the major roadblocks is that let’s just reflect on today’s society. So there are a lot of mechanisms and behaviors where all of us on some level seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. So what do I let’s let’s dive into that? Does that mean pleasure per se is bad? No, does it mean pain per se is good? No, actually, pain per se is bad, You know? So what, what am I saying here? So what we’ll do, like I said earlier to make idols of things is, well, we’ll say, okay, so, you know, I’m feeling a little down and my, you know, my psychologically depressed or am I just feeling down, right?
And people feel down, you have it, you know, it’s a cloudy day, you feel down, right? Some people do at least anyway. So what you’ll say is like, oh, maybe I want a hot cup of tea, let’s use the cloudy day, I want a hot cup of tea on this cloudy day, it’ll raise my spirits a bit. Something like that effect. Obviously using the word spirits analogously, you know, people go with a hot cup of coffee, so that’s a pleasure to help with the pain, right?
But it gets more complicated when your when you want to achieve union with God. So let’s use a good example is someone or say, you know, I need to do twitter all the time. Well you say, well, why? And you say, I don’t, like, I’m just, I’m addicted to it now, what’s happened is twitter just as a quick aside, I am not saying all technology is bad, I’m not steven saying twitter per se is bad. I’m merely using twitter because it just popped into my head. So just for people out there, okay, so let’s say a person’s, I say let’s go back to the twitter example, let’s say, okay, well you use twitter all the time and you feel like you’re addicted to it, Why do you feel like you’re addicted?
And the person will say, well, you know, I used to use it and I got a lot out of it. It was, it was really great, but like more and more and more, it’s just filled with toxic people for me for that meaning, this hypothetical person I’m talking to and I’d, I’d ask and say, okay, well, you know, why don’t you stop? And the person will say, I can’t now, this is a crucial thing here. This is a crucial thing here, you become like that which you love and in a way you end up serving it.
So what’s happened like using the simplistic example, you know, through the discussion, I find out that the person is addicted to twitter and, and it’s, and you could argue, oh well it’s a psychological addiction, I don’t know, I think ultimately it’s sure it manifests as I collected, but ultimately I think it’s a spiritual problem too, meaning it’s all of those, it’s all one chain, right? One set of causes really like this? this cause disclosed and what’s happening is the person is using it as a mechanism or a way to maximize pleasure.
But because it’s finite because it’s really just other people talking and other people are finite. This person has reached the maximum that that can give him pleasure. And in fact it’s now pulling this person down and pulling this person away from God. Why? Because I can bet a lot of money that this person is probably not praying as much as they should because they’re being pulled into twitter conversations. They’re checking twitter rather than setting aside time to pray. And now again an objection can be raised and people say, well this is kind of like, you know, pietistic and sanctimonious because like, you know, I’m busy and I don’t have time to pray and you know this and that.
And the key though is that’s that’s laying in. That is it’s like, okay, you may not have time, but do you make time, right? So it’s it’s not, again, it’s not that’s saying that okay. Yeah. People have days when they don’t have time for it, especially when you’re a lay person, right? You’re there’s a million things that can happen. You get a flat tire, you know, some emergency happens in the family like whatever, but what are you making that time? And usually the answer is no. Right?
So again, there’s nothing wrong with pleasure and pain per se or with having maximum mechanisms or ways to maximize pleasure in playing. The problem lies with us because see the problem lies with the person not with twitter. Okay, so that’s the first important thing I want to say. And so then you know, and really what this is is that after the fall due to the corruption it caused to our nature, we lost our order to God, we became divided by these many sense things available to us like twitter like hunting like I don’t it could be anything, anything that’s not good and to our imagination as a source of pleasure.
And that’s a key point. We’ll dive into more later with the imagination, just a source of pleasure. But the thing with the imagination is it’s ’s a playground. A vivid imagination is especially hard. You know, you get these images and and that’s kind of a big thing where you want to guard your imagination from bad images because once they’re in they’re in anyway, we’ll talk more about the imagination later. So that’s the first episode of this season of Midnight Carmelite. I will release more next week to talk to you then
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