“Man is to make use of created things in as far as they help him in the attainment of his purpose, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit religious order, wrote that as part of what he called The Principle and Foundation—a brief (7 sentence!) statement about man’s purpose in life and the basic way that he/she ought to relate to the world in order to fulfill that purpose. The Principle and Foundation has provided the basis for what, in many Christian circles, is called detachment.
Detachment = not being tied down or inordinately attached/addicted to any created things so that we are free to love God and neighbor in our particular vocation.
Detachment is really important. It is possibly the most important theme of our authentically Christian brand of Minimalism. (I will write a more thorough reflection of this theme in a later post. For now, I just want to offer some encouragement and motivation.)
Far too often, when I would ponder about the things in my life that need to change (which I probably do too much), I would get overwhelmed and sometimes even a little discouraged at how much really needs to change. A priest once told me, “Take God very seriously, but don’t take yourself so seriously.” As I read over St. Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation this morning, I sensed God telling me to simply enjoy it. Enjoy, be thankful, and rejoice in the process.
If I have a very serious and destructive component of my life to change, then, yes, “taking God very seriously” ought to be my dominant perspective. We should have a healthy sense of grief and of realizing the harm that our choices have brought to ourselves and/or others.
But many of the changes that we will be making in life, I hope, are simply moving us from from satisfactory to outstanding, from average to excellent. Therefore, our perspective should more often be, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” Root out sin and evil, but cherish and enjoy the discovery—both of what we need to leave behind and of the new direction we need to take. This “daily trying to live better” thing isn’t meant to be a chore, it’s meant to be a life, and it’s meant to give us life.
Enjoy the discovery.
Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy your life!