Our Life on earth is a constant battle!   The Book of Sirach warns us:  “When you decide to follow the Lord, prepare yourself for battle.”  Lent is a 40 day period of training in discipline as well as spiritual battle.   The First Sunday of Lent we encounter Jesus in the desert in mortal battle with the devil, using the tools of prayer, fasting, and the Word of God.   One of the Ignatian classics in the Spiritual Exercises is the “Two Standards”—the Standard of Jesus our General and Leader in opposition to Satan, who is the enemy of our souls.   Ignatius insists on begging the grace to know the strategies of the enemy so as to fight the good fight and win!

The devil tempts us often through entering into our imagination and suggesting indecent images and trying to seduce us into sin.     Due to Original Sin, the flesh rebels against the spirit.  Laziness, gluttony, greed, lust—are four of the Capital sins related to the temptations of the flesh!  If not resisted then we become slaves to the flesh and of sin.

Of paramount interest in this short essay is striving to understand what is the “World”, as in opposition to following Jesus and His values and standards!  The world as enemy is insidious, seductive, tricky and not always easily discovered because indeed we must live in the world but not to be part of it, as Jesus warns us!    

Adolph Tanquerey in his classic   THE SPIRITUAL LIFE, # 210   offers us a clear and concise explanation of what the “World” is in opposition to Jesus’ standards!

The world we speak of here is not the total aggregate of men upon the earth, among whom are found both choice souls and irreligious men; but the sum-total of those who oppose Jesus Christ and are slaves of the threefold concupiscence.  These are: 1) UNBELIEVERS,   hostile to religion, precisely because it condemns their pride, their love of pleasure, their lust for riches; 2) THE INDIFFERENT,  who do not want a religion that would stir them out of their apathy; 3)  HARDENED SINNERS, who love sin because they love pleasure and are loath to part with it; 4)  WORLDLINGS,  who believe and even practice their religion, yet, combine it with the love of pleasure of luxury and of ease, and who not infrequently scandalize their neighbor by giving them occasion to say that religion has but little influence on morals.  This is the world which Jesus cursed because of its scandals:  “Woe to the world because of scandals!’ (Mt 18:7)   Of this world St. John says:  “The whole world is seated in wickedness.” (I Jn. 5;19).

After Tanquerey’s superb explanation of the “World” in opposition to Jesus and His standards, let us examine and explain some concrete manifestations of how worldliness, like dust particles, can seep into our mind, hearts and souls and block our spiritual progress!  Frequently, “Worldliness” is betrayed by maxims, proverbs, sayings and clichés that often are “Half-truths”, but that also means “half-lies”; it is not always easy to sift the wheat from the weeds!  Following are twenty  WORLDY SAYINGS/MAXIMS, PROVERBS  and a short explanation as to why these are  really  half-lies, and dangerous to true followers of Jesus, who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!  

1.    “You have one life to live; therefore live it up!”  True, we have one life!  But this life is given from God and meant to be spent for God’s honor and glory and the salvation of our soul!
2.    “Eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we will die!”   True! But true joy (“being merry”) does not come from food and drink but from union with God.  Our Lady taught us this in the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit  rejoices  in God my Savior…”

3.    What is the criteria that many women have in marrying a man?  The “Worldly”  5-B’S.      He should have BRAINS, BRAWN, BEAUTY, AND BIG-BUCKS!!!!    But what about the beauty and nobility of religion in a man and nobility of moral character?

4.     “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”  Actually this saying comes from the Old Testament, but is interpreted in modern culture as “Even Steven!”  In other words, he has done you harm, get revenge!  The Italians call it “La Dolce vendetta!”—the sweet revenge!   What a marked contrast with Jesus’ teaching on love and mercy:  From the cross, Jesus said:  “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Also, the most renowned prayer in the world, from the lips and heart of Jesus Himself:  ”Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

5.     “It’s MILLER TIME!!!!!”   What is this famous beer commercial inviting? Obviously to guzzle down beer, but how often to excess and leading to dependency, alcoholism and the destruction of countless families!  Check out how many tombstones should have “It’s Miller time “ engraved on it for drinking and driving and crashing and killing!

6.    “ I GOT TO BE FREE!   I GOT TO BE ME!  I’VE GOT TO DO MY OWN THING!” True, we are all called to freedom, but not a freedom to give into the desires and cravings of the flesh, but true liberty which is found in following Jesus!  Actions have responsibilities and have consequences!

7.    “Finder’s keepers; loser’s weepers!”  Wrong!  Why is there a lost and found in schools, auditoriums, and even churches?  Because for the simple reason that if somebody misplaces something, an honest person will return it!

8.     ENJOY!!!!  Often said by the Waitress!    Jesus said said something a bit different: “Whoever wants to follow me must renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me!  Whoever loves his life in this life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it in the next life!”

9.    “Take it easy!”    “Now, do not overdo it!”  “You might get a heart-attack!” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen observes that many people in the modern world suffer from boredom and the reason is that they are not giving 100% of themselves!  Jesus never said, Take it easy, but “take my yoke upon you and learn from me!” A Materialistic, sensual and hedonistic society embraces these three words   TAKE IT EASY!!!

10. ‘REST UP NOW!”     Sheen also stated that there are two philosophies of life: 1st “The fast and then the Feast or Good Friday and then Easter Sunday; 2nd, the Feast and then the headache!   St. Alberto Hurtado asserted:  “There are two places two rest: the cemetery and Heaven.”  In other words, work now and rest later!

11.  “He deserves it; give him a lesson; give him some of his own medicine!”  Once again, these three short maxims all promote revenge! Let us leave judgment to Jesus and in the meantime practice mercy towards others!

12.  “ It will not go to waste, because it will go to my waist!” Another way to promote the Capital Sin of Gluttony!

13.  “She is a real KNOCK-OUT!”   True, spiritually, because she is improperly dressed and can “knock out”, “black out” your spiritual life!

14. “Everyone else is doing it!”  “Just do it!” No!  If it is against the commandment, even though it is majority,  do not do it!

15. “Go with the flow!’   “Be with it!”  “Be modern!”   As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be counter-cultural; we must swim against the current; we must be willing to be  called  “Crazy” for the sake of following Christ and carrying the cross!

16.  “It is only a white lie!’  In Spanish, “Una  mentira piadosa!”  (“A pious” lie!”).  Once  Charlie Brown said to Lucy, “Lucy, it is only a white lie!” Lucy, retorted, “Charlie, I did not know that lies came in colors!”

17.  “Five-finger discount!”  A short modern juvenile expression for breaking the 7th Commandment:  “Thou shalt not steal!”

18. “Do it later!”  If something is worth doing, it is worth doing later!  In Spanish, “La filosofia de la manana!”   Wrong!  What is not done, upon the moment, inspired by God’s grace, will not be done or be done poorly! Remember that “Time is of the essence and life is short, like the flower that rises in the morning and withers and dies in the evening!”

19.  “Just take a second look!”  David did and he ended up by committing adultery and murder!   The wife of Lot did and she was transformed into a pillar of salt!  No!  Spiritual writers insist upon custody of the senses, especially the eyes which are the gateway and mirror to the soul!

20.  BALANCE/MODERATION: DO NOT OVERDO IT NOW!  True and false!   The devil can push us to extremes. However, often the word “Balance”, “Moderation”, “Calm down” can be a camouflaged way to support laziness and mediocrity!  Compare your life to that of St. John Vianney (Cure of Ars), or St. Francis Xavier, or St. Dominic Savio, or St. John Bosco, Or St. Peter of Alcantara or even the children of Fatima!  In the eyes of the  world  all of these were “Extremists!”, had gone overboard, and could be called simply crazy!  But the Catholic church calls them  SAINTS!!!!!!!

Friends in Christ, the WORLD can easily seep into our minds, and heart and life almost without being aware.  The world desensitizes us to spiritual values.  Walking down a dusty road, we are not aware of the dust until we enter our house and look in the mirror. 

Use this reflection as an examination of conscience!  Three excellent ways to detect WOLDLINESS  and fight against it would be 1) The daily examen, 2) Frequent Confession to the priest, 3) Periodic Spiritual Direction.

May our Standard be “no” to the world but  “yes” to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE! 

Click here for my corresponding presentation on the danger of worldliness.