The Season of Lent is a time for examining our spiritual life and faith practice. We identify the ways in which we need to grow to be more faithful to Christ, to others, by turning away from sin and undertaking spiritual practices of holy detachment. Lent invites us to pray more frequently, give alms, and undertake fasting which can instil a “graced self-discipline”. This self-discipline helps us to avoid the sins that draw us away from the love of neighbour and God.
Pope Francis in his 2019 Lenten Message states, “Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will.” Furthermore, he pointed to the unchecked sinfulness that can become cyclical and unremitting in our lives, “that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself.” These attachments can gradually overpower each one of us so that we find ourselves engulfed by the “unbridled pursuit of comfort”.
St. Ignatius of Loyola addressed such attachments in the Christian spiritual life through the foundational principle of indifference or more commonly known as holy detachment. In the Spiritual Exercise #23 he states, “Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings to help them in attaining the end for which they are created. From this, it follows that I should use these things to the extent that they help me toward my end, and rid myself of them to the extent that they hinder me. To do this, I must make myself indifferent to all created things … I ought to desire and elect only the thing which is more conducive to the end for which I am created.”
As we journey through this Season of Lent, our spiritual and penitential practices can open us to the grace of a holy detachment in our life, to surrender our control and our desires to God. Let us pray for the courage to rid ourselves of those things which hinder our relationship with God, to be more responsible for the care of the created world, and most especially the sacred dignity of our brothers and sisters. Through this grace, the Lord will prepare our hearts to fully receive Him and celebrate the gift of the Resurrection this Easter.
Most Reverend W. T. McGrattan, D.D., Bishop of Calgary March 2019