The catechism says “Detachment from riches is necessary for entering the Kingdom of heaven (2556).” What does detachment mean? And what good is the paragraph from the catechism if the definition is not readily available?
That is one of the lines from an “in brief” section --read the whole section in that part of the Catechism scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a0.htm#2556
- III. POVERTY OF HEART
2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel.335 Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.336 The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.
2545 All Christ’s faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty."337
2548 Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. "The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude. . . . In Scripture, to see is to possess. . . . Whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive."344
And from the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI
- What does Jesus call for in poverty of spirit?
Jesus calls his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone. Detachment from riches – in the spirit of evangelical poverty – and self-abandonment to divine providence free us from anxiety about the future and prepare us for the blessedness of the “poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5:3).
Read whole section: scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a0.htm
Some thoughts on the subject from Abdu’l-Baha:
"Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one’s house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one’s fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one’s possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us. A prosperous merchant who is not absorbed in his business knows severance. A banker whose occupation does not prevent him from serving humanity is severed. A poor man can be attached to a small thing.
A rich man and a poor man lived in the same town. One day the poor man said to the rich man, “I want to go to the Holy Land.” The rich man replied, “Very good, I will go also,” and they started from the town and began their pilgrimage. But night fell and the poor man said, “Let us return to our houses to pass the night.” The rich man replied, “We have started for the Holy Land and must not now return.” The poor man said, “The Holy Land is a long distance to travel on foot. I have a donkey, I will go and fetch it.” “What?” replied the rich man, “are you not ashamed? I leave all my possessions to go on this pilgrimage and you wish to return to get your donkey! I have abandoned with joy my whole fortune. Your whole wealth consists of a donkey and you cannot leave it!” You see that fortune is not necessarily an impediment. The rich man who is thus detached is near to reality. There are many rich people who are severed and many poor who are not.
May our spirit be at rest! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 135)
“Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful. Then will the New Jerusalem be seen by mankind, who will enter through its gates and receive the Divine Bounty.”
(Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 87)
A true detachment from riches would mean that having the riches would not be the basis for your happiness and losing them would not be the basis for your unhappiness. If God is the venter of your happiness, then your riches could do great good for the world.