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,