Renewal Begins with Detachment and Mystical Prayer

In our day, many in the Church have in many ways grown much too comfortable and sought the things of this world, rather than the far higher supernatural goods. In order to begin the path to higher forms of prayer such as infused contemplation—led by God–we must be willing to cut ties with the things of the world that weigh us down. We must turn from even good things and ask God to purify us of our sins. We must make prayer the greatest priority of each day. This prayer will help us overcome and detach from the things of this world. It is this intimate union with God in prayer that will renew the Church and lead souls to Christ.

This detachment must begin with our sins, both mortal and venial. Cutting out mortal sin is obvious, but indifference towards venial sin impedes spiritual growth and can lead to backsliding into mortal sins we thought we had overcome by God’s grace. Even the smallest of attachments to sin and to worldly goods keep us from ascending to God. The Lord Himself tells us that we must seek the things of heaven, rather than the things of this world.

The rich young man (Matthew 19:16-30) follows the letter of the law, but he is attached to his wealth. When the Lord invites him to abandon his wealth, give to the poor, and follow Him, the young man goes away sad. How often do we do the same thing with the various worldly pleasures, sins, relationships, plans, ambitions, and attachments we have in this life? The Lord looked upon this man with love and issued a deeper invitation to Him, but the young man chose His worldly attachments. We do the same thing to varying degrees in our daily lives and in the Church.

It is very easy to cling to worldly pleasures. Even our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—some clergy—will tell us that it is ok to be attached to good things in this life. The spiritual masters—the saints—understood that any attachment to worldly things keeps us from ascending to higher forms of prayer and union with God. It is this union that we are ultimately made for, not clinging to the good things of this life that are a small glimpse of God. He wants to give us Himself.

Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. in Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel—on Prayer explains:

The New Testament has already admonished us that we must not love this passing world or anything that is in it, for the love of the Father cannot exist in the person who loves the world, the sensual body, the lustful eye, pride in possessions. God’s grace has taught us “that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions.”

When our focus is on the things of this world, the body, possessions, or sexual appetites, we turn created goods into false idols that get in the way of union with God. We become weighed down by our passions and all of the good things around us. The goods of this world are always meant to lead us to God, but they are not God, which is why we must learn detachment. Until we commit to detaching ourselves from worldly things, we will not be open to higher forms of union with God. We will continue to be slaves. Even venial sin is a form of slavery that God wants to free us from.

How do we reconcile this with our call to love God and our neighbor? We are called to love others with and through God for God’s sake. In so doing, we are able to rightly order our relationships. We stop placing the people in our lives above God. In our fallen state, we often make false idols out of our closest relationships or people we have authority over. We place too much emphasis on people and not enough on God. If our relationships do not lead us to God then they must become rightly ordered to God or cut out.

As difficult and arduous as it is to allow God to detach us from the things of this world. Those passing pleasures and comforts are nothing compared to the glory the Lord wants to give to us in infused contemplation and mystical union. This is not only a calling for hermits and nuns in cloisters, it is a calling for all people. This is what we have been made for. It is also through this union with God that our works become fruitful. It is the answer to what the Church needs today because union with God leads to transformative love and fruitful works. We cannot bear lasting fruit without deep prayer lives of mystical union with God.

The detachment that is necessary for individuals to grow to higher levels of contemplative prayer and union with God is required at all levels of the Church in order for renewal to begin. We must all be seeking the Lord and asking Him to free us from our ambitions—including the latest prayerless or prayer lite committee scheme—and worldly attachments. It is His will that matters, not our own and we cannot know His will if we are not seeking detachment and to attain the highest levels of union with God in prayer. It is in this prayerful union that God sets our hearts on fire with His love. A love that He uses to transform the world.

If we step towards Him with an earnest desire for detachment, to love Him above all else, and to go higher up the holy mountain of prayer, He will take us by the hand and lead us to mystical union with Him. This is where renewal will begin. Through this prayerful union we will truly be able to unleash deep, abiding, and authentic love upon the world because it will be a love devoid of self that is completely immersed in the Most Holy Trinity.

Photo by NEOM on Unsplash


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy. Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths.

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