A Summons To Sanctity & Separation


#1

Dear Friends,

As Catholics do we, in this age of dissipation, take seriously enough the N.T. summons to sanctity and separation?; are we striving “…for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14)? A vital part of our pursuit of holiness is separation from the godless world around us - “Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord…”(2 Cor. 6:17). Indeed in every age all the devout, Catholic and Protestant alike, have agreed that separation from the world is one of the grand evidences of a work of grace in the heart.

It is my opinion that this subject was never more urgent than it is at the present time. There is a widely-spread desire to make things pleasant in our religion, I mean we want to avoid, as far as possible, anything that smacks of self-denial or sacrifice. On every side we hear Christians loudly declaring that we must not be too narrow and exclusive, we must not be prissy or overscrupulous, and that there is no harm in indulging in many worldly amusements; we may plunge into almost anything that appeals to our senses and all the while remain good Christians. Now how does this square with the religion of Sacred Scripture or the lives of the Saints?

The whole course of this life is a state of probation and we are admonished to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” and to “be the more zealous to confirm (our) call and election” (2 Peter 1:10). We do not know how many will be finally saved but our dear Lord in answer to that most sombre of questions did remark, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (St. Luke 13:24). Interestingly the word translated “strive” implies a severe conflict and struggle - sort of “strain every nerve” to enter into life eternal. Being saved is an ardous business involving daily repentance, self-denial and the taking up the cross to follow Christ. A weak and shallow desire will not suffice, only an earnest hearty desire to enter in will be blessed with success. Now is this really the religion of multitudes of professing Christians today? Alas, I fear not.

Has the fact that we are God’s children, created in His image, redeemed by His beloved Son, really had a profound impact upon our priorities and how we live each day? Are we renouncing “…irreligion and worldly passions” and living sober, “…upright, and godly lives in this world” (Titus 2:12)?, or are we quite satisfied with a hand in hand with the world type of religion that demands nothing and allows us to remain devoted to salacious TV programmes and films, unwholesome novels with questionable content and rock music with its occultic connections and heavy sexual overtones? Why this is nothing more than “Catholicism Lite” (George Weigel) and as such is utterly contrary to St. Paul’s exhortation: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good, and acceptable, and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

Alas, so many Christians are virtually indistinguishable from their pagan neighbours when it comes to worldly separation and sanctity, notwithstanding that we are bidden to keep ourselves “unstained from the world” (James 1: 18). Sacred Scripture and the lives of the Saints are insistently summoning us to sanctity and separation, but are we listening?

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait


#2

I know!!! I completely agree. So many of us are liars… we say we’re Christians but we’re NOT. It’s so sad. All we can do is pray for God’s mercy, for people who don’t deserve it to recieve a divine intervention. And of course work on it ourselves


#3

. . . separation from the world is one of the grand evidences of a work of grace in the heart.

When you sell your PC and give the proceeds to the poor then come back and preach serious separation from the world to us.

There are some such as the Stylite saints and ascetical hermits who may be called to fully separate themselves from the world (even though the Church has historically sought to bring them into a community and to bring them under a rule), but even more are called to be “*in *the world but not of the world,” and to witness to it, and to be a leaven to it raising it up and evangelizing and Christianizing it in the process.


#4

Interesting questions, and sober challenges that should give us all pause to think about our present relationship with God.

However, Jesus called us to be salt and light. To be in the world (as you mentioned) but not of the world. If we go by appearances only (taking quick snapshots, if you will, and labeling these short and brief views) then we do everyone a disservice. Who could honestly say that they could accurately pick out all the christians from among the pagans by looking at a snapshot of a sold out football stadium.

Who can look on a person’s heart except God? Who knows what struggle or turmoil is taking place in a person’s soul? Who can see the crosses that each of us bear but Christ alone. I think that if this is such a concern to you (as it should be to all those who love God) that you and I ought to be more concerned with intercessory prayer, offering up our sufferings, and being a better example ourselves of Christ’s love and charity not through words only, but through selfless acts of devotion on the behalf of those who may have strayed from the faith. I know that in my lifetime I have played the part of the Prodigal Son more than once.


#5

Dear Friends,

Thankyou for all of your replies to my thread, but have I demonstrated beyond question that Sacred Scripture does indeed summon us all to sanctity and separation from the godless world? Thus, for example, when St. Paul admonished the Corinthians to “come out from among them, and touch not the unclean thing”, was he addressing all of them or only a select few, the thorough going and ardent among them?

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait


#6

We live in the world but not of the world, for we are co-heirs of the Kingdom of God and His Kingdom is not of this world. We must always remember the great dignity of the Christian: Made in God’s Image and Likeness, redeemed at the price of the Precious Blood of His Son, made holy by His Spirit, loved and prayed for by His Mother and our Mother. We are sons of Christ and the Church, not sons of the world or nature or chance or angels or powers. We are sons of men just as Christ is a son of man, and adopted son of God in a manner like Christ the Son. But not every Christian has the same ecumenical life, not every Christian practices the ecumenical counsels to the same degree. Some are called to a deeper intimacy with God, hidden like pearls from the world, while others are called to be garbage cans among garbage cans in order to convert garbage cans. It is the call of God, who calls us to something not beyond our strength but in accordance to our endurance, our strength, our state of life, our capacity, our will and our choices. If our Yes is great, so shall be our calling; Mary was no priest yet she was exalted by God above the angels and saints, because her Yes was extraordinary. So let us answer the call to holiness, i.e., God, and accept the graces He gives us.


#7

My dear friend

Thank you. Very good post. I agree we must be careful if we’re in the world to avoid sin. If your called to the priesthood or consecrated life you can leave the world behind. But the problems in the world stem largely from a lack of saints in the world. We are called to be saints that will act as leaven in the world to transform it from within, if we’re laymen. We must be detached from the things of the world and on our guard against temptation always. The world needs saints at every level and in every place within the world. I think it’s best to put the most emphasis on our own sanctification. This way we will transform the world in many ways. Saints make saints too. The prayer of a saint can be very powerful. The life of a saint can be like a powerful prayer in action. A saint is like a living prayer that rises to God with great speed ceaselessly. So it’s a good idea to try and turn our whole life into prayer whether we’re in the world or not. Prayer is love. This love is the leaven that the world needs. Love is contagious and this is why true sains are contagious. If something is contagious it catches on and spreads quickly. So lets spread love and transform the world into a city of love and peace, a city of God.

Everyone is sinning but the sin is a search for God, for Love. People want and need love but don’t know where or how to find it. They must be shown - first in our life, then our word and then on the map. The local church is lsted on the map.

People are like sheep without a shepherd. They are being led by a million interests and manipulated left right and centre. They have been deceived into thinking so many things would make them happy such as great wealth, many possessions, fame and fortune, science, freedom from guilt, non stop entertainment etc. But they are miserable. A lot of the problem is they don’t know their miserable or can’t fathom they can ever be happier. Or the lottery ticket wll bring them happiness if they win. They are living in fantasy. I’s not reality. Each of us should try and show them true happiness by showing them who Christ is in our lives. Only when people see and experience christ can they begin to know Him in this secular world. People are just lost and looking for love in the wrong place. To do our part to help them we just have to show them what and who love is - Love is God. I hope I make sense.

God bless all and pray for me please:thumbsup::slight_smile:

John


#8

The truths of Scripture need to be taken as a whole. We cannot focus on only one passage or one book and ignore or overlook others.

While St. Paul did say “come out from them and be separate from them,” in reference to pagan society, and also said Christians should not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers," he ALSO said that

  1. Christians should submit to legitimate civil authority, pray for their political leaders, and pay their taxes;

  2. Christians married to pagans should stay married to them, as long as the pagan spouse was willing to live in peace with them, since their good example might serve to convert the pagan spouse;

  3. eating meat purchased at a public market that was, or may have been, left over from a pagan sacrifice was not wrong in and of itself, but should be avoided if it offended or scandalized other Christians (direct participation in a pagan sacrifice, however, would be wrong);

  4. Christians should work to earn their own living, and not allow themselves to be dependent upon others without good reason (“if a man does not work, neither shall he eat”);

  5. wives should obey their husbands and slaves/servants should obey their masters in all that was not sinful. (He did not say “unless your husband or master is not Christian, then you should have nothing to do with them.” The command to slaves to obey their masters could better be applied today to the relationship between employer and employee.)

All of these actions would require some kind of cooperation with unbelievers, and would not be compatible with the notion that Christians are obligated to live as hermits and avoid ALL cooperation with a pagan society.

I think what St. Paul and other Scripture writers, along with the Sacred Tradition of the Church, seeks is a balance between simply giving in to pagan society completely and doing nothing to set oneself apart from it, and scrupulous avoidance of all cooperation or potential cooperation with non-Christians (which is impossible in a fallen world). Both extremes make a lot of good works impossible and also thwart many opportunities for evangelization.

Perhaps Catholics as a whole in recent years have been leaning too far in the direction of blending in with pagan society and need to be reminded that we can’t agree with or “just get along” with everyone all the time. However that does not mean we must go to the opposite extreme either.


#9

Priests are certainly not called to ‘leave the world behind,’ while those living a consecrated life are to a major degree. As an example of why even the consecrated do not abandon the world 100%, many cloistered religious receive and read newspapers so as to know for whom to pray for.

Here’s an example of someone who left the world behind, who lived atop a pillar for 67 years.

Alypius, after standing upright for 53 years, found his feet no longer able to support him, but instead of descending from his pillar lay down on his side and spent the remaining fourteen years of his life in that position.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/Alipii_stolpnik.jpg/335px-Alipii_stolpnik.jpg


#10

Sorry if I offended you dear friend. I was vague in my post for sure. I’ll try to be more specific in future. Are you considering leaving the world? If so, can you tell me what you feel called to, if you know? I’m no friend of the world. I’d love to hear your ideas.

God bless you and pray for me please:thumbsup::slight_smile:

John


#11

Dear Eucharisted,

Thankyou so much or your insightful comments above; yes indeed if only more christians would ‘answer the call to holines’ in these days unprecedented spiritual declension. It is only this that will usher in the long awaited spiritual revival of religion.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

PS I found your testimony very moving - a real ‘Damascus Road’ type of experience. When I read the Scriptures I also have sensed what I believe is the presence of God, this was very intense after my conversion to the Christian faith in 1981.


#12

Dear John,

Thankyou for your words of encouragement - my sentiments entirely.

We need to pray earnestly that those with whom we live and move and have our being will take knowledge that we have been with Jesus. Somehow we must offer this sin sick world an alternative Christian counter-culture; we are to be a sort of moral disinfectant in a world where standards of morality are deplorably low, constantly changing, or, alas, non-existent. Our dear Lord said that we were to be “the salt of the earth” (St. Matt. 5: 13). “Have salt in yourselves”, He said on another occasion. Christian saltiness is Christain character as depicted the Beatitudes (the *attitudes *that ought to be in our lives, as someone has pur it). If we are to be effective Christians we must not become assimilated to non-Christians and contaminated by the impurities of the world, or we will “loose our savour”(i.e. influence for good).

It has, I think, been said many times that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is prepared to listen to
the holy Gospel, though it may despise it at first. If we Christains are indistinguishable from our pagan neighbours, we are useless; we might as well be discarded like, well saltless salt.

If we are engrossed in the outlook and pursuits of the world which rejects God, and the pendulum has decidedly swung in that direction today, then it is evident that we have no real love for our heavenly Father - “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4: 4) and “No man can serve two masters” (St. Matt. 6: 24; St. Lk. 16: 13), and clearly if we cannot serve God and mammon, neither can we love the Father and the world.

God bless John and I will remember you in my prayers.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait


#13

Thank you for your thoughts and a big thanks for your prayers.

God bless you dear friend:thumbsup::slight_smile:

John


#14

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