Detachment from the world

How do you become detached from the world? It seems that being afraid of change and loss, although normal psychologically, requires something spiritually to get though it. Is it detachment? Or courage? Whatever it is, and maybe it’s both, how does one begin to acquire these things? I can understand how you can work to acquire certain virtues, like patience and generosity, but some virtues just seem to be elusive.

Maybe I should add that the changes and losses I’m talking about personally aren’t bad in themselves. No grieving or loss of income. Just freely chosen life changes that are, nevertheless, scary to move through. New job, moving to a very different place, things like that.

Detachment from this world merely means a focus on the world to come. When we are focused on God, on Christ, on living the life of the Spirit, of doing all for the Glory of God, then we are “detached” from this world for the snares of the world, greed, avarice, slander, etc will not trap us.

Of course the above is far easier said than done for temptation is always in front of us.


For me, there’s is a deliberate refusal of certain things that are worldly into my home. Television is one I’m working on, but I wish I’d really paid attention to it more when my children were little. So much indoctrination comes through the television and when children are exposed to alot of television, they begin to adopt certain things as common and acceptable. I do not watch all movies and though I am an adult, I do not need to engage in watching thrillers, sexually charged movies, drama/trauma related movies. I try to expose my mind to positive literature, movies and music. I listen to very little secular music anymore. I do not believe I’m hiding from the world, just being more open to God and less open to the world. There is corruption everywhere, I hope I am setting an example for my kids that are now adults and hopefully show that, yes we have to live in this world, but we do not have to accept and allow the world into our lives. Technology is a new tool that can be a blessing, but it must be used properly and children and young people should be protected from unsavory exposure on computers. Becoming worldly to me means to begin to adopt philosophies, life-styles, and mindsets that conflict with our catholic values.

An excellent topic, methinks. Rockie, I too have been slowly weening myself from the television and have found the benefits to be quite significant. Now, whenever I do turn on the tv (which is usually only on Friday nights to watch Fringe), I am appalled at what I see and shocked that I used to be so numb to everything we are exposed to through this medium.

As far as practically learning to detach yourself form the world? I’ll call upon the sagely advice of Dr. Leo Marvin and suggest “Baby Steps.” Try to avoid one “worldly” thing a day and offer up that time in prayer or meditation. I have found that the more I participate in these small mortifications and rely on God, the easier it is to remove myself from the world and feel comfortable doing so.

But, yeah, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

I try to expose my mind to positive literature, movies and music. I listen to very little secular music anymore. I do not believe I’m hiding from the world, just being more open to God and less open to the world.

I definately agree with you there-I don’t think it’s hiding from the world, though that is what most people do think! I watch and listen to one news show, listen to different kinds of music, but mainly classical and sacred, and I am not a crowd follower. Yes, I know that many will say that as a kind of badge of their uniqueness and that is a type of following the crowd too. I just feel like such a fish out of water everywhere, and it’s odd to me that I would feel so attached to what my life is like right now and so scared to embark on a different life.

Again, I am sure that this is all very normal psychologically. I just think about how saints would go to other countries and leave everything behind with nary a thought, and here I am doing so much less and having so much more anxiety about it all. It seems they must have had something that I lack (many things I lack, to be sure). I wonder if that is detachment from the world, but maybe it is really just courage. I guess that’s why I’m on this forum in the first place…looking for an anchor…

Rockie-I messed up when quoting you. Looks like I was trying to plaigarize!

So funny! I do try to take Dr. Marvin’s advice! Baby steps to looking for a job, baby steps to choosing an interview outfit, baby steps to filling out the troves of paperwork! Love it!

But the trouble comes when someone asks, “So, are you excited about your new job?” Inside I’m yelling, “Excited?! What, as in terrified, unconfident, wishing I never went to grad school in the first place kind of excited? Oy!”

I think you have the jest of it. And yes “People will accuse you of hiding from the world.” But, like the other poster said, devote the time to God, it’s a win-win situation.

I try to find ways to live my life which would be pleasing to him.I’m not perfect. But I try to make my days meaningful. Also, I listen to or watch EWTN and Just recently watched the Journey Home and one of the speakers said “I try to live my life by example, and live out my Catholic Faith, and live it joyfully”. That was very profound, because I think sometimes we forget to enjoy this life, enjoy serving the Lord. I think this is one example of preaching the word without using words, by living a life of example to others.

Once you are living in the “word”, you do tend to notice how you dress, how you speak, how you interact with others, how you think of others first. And… others will notice the changes in you. Once change I noticed was people stopped telling dirty jokes in front of me. I never asked them to verbally, but they were respectful enough to refrain from those things in my presence. The Lord also put many prayerful people in my path that made my journey in the workforce so amazing.

I remember a time I felt so isolated because I was surrounded by people who just seemed wicked and considered me an outcast. I was often reminded of a song, sung by Darlene Zshech: a segment of the song: “You draw me to yourself” as if God purposely pulls you away from worldly things toward him. That is an awesome thing when we listen to God speak to our heart.

You’ll be challenged and your faith will be tested. Stand firm.

What a great line, sounds like a great song. I will have to look it up. That is exactly how I feel a lot. He’s drawing me in, but it’s not necessarily a road of peace and tranquility! No wonder courage is a virtue. When you’re busy being worldly, you don’t need it!

By Hillsong Records: The Potter’s Hand; you’ve probably heard it before. You can listen to it on youtube, and it also has one version with the lyrics. Enjoy.

To detach from the world (and unite with Jesus’s mystery), advance your prayer life beyond vocal and even meditative, and into contemplative prayer.

For example, see if you can find a Lectio Divina (divine reading) prayer group in your area.

Reference CCC 2700-2724

Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. ***This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. ***His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him.

Contemplative prayer is a total willingness to let go of everything, including ourselves, and thereby make ourselves totally open to Him. You don’t even use words in contemplative prayer; it is a prayer done in silence, whereby you [renounce self and attachments and] invite God into your mind and heart, without interference by the ego, or “false self.”


Lectio Divina…ah, where have I heard that before…Oh, yes. AlanFromWichita! Why does that seem so hard an undertaking? How do you know that you are in contemplation and not just being quiet and trying not to think?

Is Magnificat, the publication, Lectio Divina? I looked at a Lectio phone app and it looks similar, but I can’t tell if it is the same or not. Do you know?

I don’t know about the pub or app, but Lectio Divina meetings I go to are physical meetings around a table, and we will read a short scripture and then think about it in silence. They we read it again and this time we go deeper, not just to the literal meaning, but what it says to us. Anyway the deepest stage is “contemplatio” where you actually don’t think at all. We just read the scripture again, then sit silently with open mind and heart, inviting God in.

Now the next question involves how you stop thinking of anything at all, on purpose. Including the fact that you’re trying not to think. That’s where the tricks come in. Different prayer groups use different methods such as Cloud of the Unknowing people used a “sacred word” in a certain way. Don’t take this as an explanation though, I’m just trying to get you in the ballpark.

After time you will find out if the prayer is working. The first evidence of it truly working are if you enjoy improved relationships with other people, especially those closest to you. You don’t know during the prayer itself whether any given session is “effective,” let’s say. And there are actually times the pray itself becomes unpleasant as the Holy Spirit a.k.a. Divine Therapist, does precision thought surgery on us. This can undo spiritual damage done over long periods of time. Also make sure they are doing the prayer right. I’ve seen some wrong explanations of Lectio in YouTube videos, so be careful not to believe just anybody on the proper form to use. Best I think to find a physical meeting and they will explain it to you. Maybe your pastor knows where there is a meeting.

I’ve noticed pattern of thinking and have learned to kind of “turn on” my openness of mind and heart when I’m in a pinch, and the Lord does not fail to refresh me. This has been going on for like a few weeks now. :slight_smile: So for me it was 11 years after first hearing of contemplation and now I can say I am enjoying its fruit.


If you’re wanting to learn about detachment, the saint who is the master of detachment is St. John of the Cross. His book “Dark Night of the Soul” is a good introduction to the process of detachment from the world. “The Way of Perfection” is another great read. Both are available free online. They both teach of how to detach from the world by constantly going against your natural tendancies to detach yourself from your own will.

My priest says that the way to learn detachment is small mortifications every day. You don’t have to take ice cold showers every day, but a lukewarm shower is a good sacrifice. St. Frances de Sales says do one thing at each meal that you do not want to do as a mortification. Eat a few bites of broccoli or something you don’t like with your dinner. Have unsweet tea instead of sweet tea. Drive the speed limit - that can be very penitential. Keep your mouth closed when you are tempted to gossip or say something nasty about a friend or co-worker. Turn the radio off when you drive. Offer to do some household chore that you hate, like cleaning the cat box or doing the dishes after they’ve sat there for a day. There are so many opportunities to go against your own will each day, and each time you take one, you will grow in the grace of detachment.

Not only does making these small acts every day give you sacrifices to offer to God for the conversion of sinners or the sanctification of priests or whatever you want to want to offer them for, but it also helps you become detached from the pleasant things of this world so that you can belong to God alone. Little Thérèse of Lisieux used to carry around " sacrifice beads" and count how many sacrifices that she could make each day. She practiced the virtue of never complaining, and smiling when something unpleasant was happening. She would deliberately pick the worst thing to do and then do it for love of God. (Her “Story of a Soul” is another inspirational book.)

Alan…I get it now. Its not just reading the daily readings. I will look into this.

Honora…Thank you for all the detail. That makes perfect sense. I do love passionists, and St John of the Cross was one, I think. I will look for those books.

If you are looking into John of the Cross - may I suggest the book in my signature. It’s not mine, I get nothing from it…But It is a wonderful distillation of this whole matter. Plus you will be introduced to a number of great teachers, all Doctors of the Church, including John of the cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, Catherine of Sienna and others.
It is also an easy read.

Well worth it. :thumbsup:


Glad you said its an easy read. I shear Doctors of the Church and think…oh no, some kind of esoteric philosophical treatise on minute points that I wont even understand! Thanks for pointing out your signature line…I honestly don’t usually look at those.

You are welcome…I really mean it when I say that it is the best book I’ve read on the subject…:thumbsup:


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