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
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!
“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!
“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…”
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?
“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.”
“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
“ 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
“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!
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!”
“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
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.