"The great evil of the World is that it persuades souls
 that it is not as dangerous as it is accused of being."


Worldliness consists in an infinite number of things that may be permissible in detail, but whose accumulation makes us blind to God, our important duties and our true end. In itself, there is nothing wrong with lounging in a nice easy chair or having a soft bed, enjoying delicious food and wearing the most expensive clothing, going to bed late and getting up late, leading a comfortable little life and leaving dedication to others. But suppose our life includes all these pleasant things; then we run the tremendous risk of losing sight of the "kingdom of God."

Yet Our Lord said, Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides. [1] The spirit of the world aims at making us adopt a totally different formula, and people do adopt it unwittingly, not explicitly but in practice:

"Earthly things come first, the kingdom of God comes later. The earth and earthly pleasures come first, Heaven and the Divine requirements to obtain it for myself and secure it for others are thirty-sixth on my list of preoccupations."

"Don't try and stop me from pursuing my pleasure. I'm not doing anything wrong. Do you mean to say that I must get involved in other people's salvation? As for works, I loathe them! Am I supposed to sleep on a board? . . . It is perfectly obvious that a person can be an excellent Christian without all these trifling details."

Therein lies the spirit of the world.

How can God penetrate into anyone's life when personal satisfaction is that person's unique occupation?

Therein lies the danger of the spirit of the world. There is no open break with God. Oh, no. But alongside God, before God, we put something else. And what is that something else? Well, since we cannot encompass the entire earth and all the pleasures it holds, we try to collect among them all that the parcel of earth within our grasp can contain. So God fades into the background. We are polite with Him when, at certain moments, He imperiously commands a religious act or requires an obligatory abstention. Outside of that, all we ask of Him is to remain in the background and not come and get involved in the details of our daily life. His presence there would offend us like the indiscretion of an unwanted guest who imposes himself without having been invited.

A worldly person judges "the world" by these terms: "Thus we manage to believe in good faith that to live means 'to entertain'; that life is 'an extended afternoon tea'; that perfect happiness is 'a refined dinner,' a living room in "which the highest favor is that of being the 'recognized' guests in attendance. For three-quarters and a half of us, that would be the only fitting manner to spend the years we are given. The world is also a delightful and prolific school of forgetfulness. Without the least little effort, we forget every annoyance, every concern, every care. It is the land of half-awake sleepers."

This Inversion of values is the great danger of the worldly life. People direct their attention to the events or realities of life for reasons that are diametrically opposed to their true importance.
It does not suffice to know what the spirit of the world is. We have understood that it is characterized by:

-----the absence of the supernatural in ideas.
-----the absence of the supernatural in everyday living.

When "the world" gets hold of us, it enslaves us. What sacrifices we accept for it! We endure cold feet when open-toed shoes are in style, sore throats when fashion dictates low-cut apparel, stupid points of etiquette and archaic social conventions, insipid visits and tiresome dinners, boring contacts and ridiculous activities . . .

Madame de Marbeuf, one of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat's first companions, who had a long experience in the world, rightly said to the younger members, "You left the world before you knew it, and you think that by doing so, you have done a great deal for God. Do not be so proud of your sacrifice. If you only knew what the slavery of the world is like: it is like being sentenced to the galleys."

Once we abandon the world
-----or  once the world abandons us -----it does not take long for it to cast us  aside. We go down into a dungeon. Silence covers us. The real grave  of the dead is the heart of the living. Each one of us dies twice: First I scorn the world and then it scorns me. Fair is fair.

 [This section was taken from Fr. Raoul Plus' Face
la vie, pp. 94-100.]

The Enemy of Jesus Christ

What is the world? And what should the world be to a Christian? These are two most interesting questions for anyone who wishes to belong entirely to God and assure his own salvation.

What is the world? It is the enemy of Jesus Christ, and it is the enemy of His Gospel. It is the conglomeration of people who are attached to tangible things and who place their happiness in them; they loathe poverty, suffering and humiliation, and they regard such things as real evils from which they must flee, and against which they must protect themselves at any cost. It is this conglomeration of people who, on the contrary, have the greatest regard for wealth, pleasure and honor; they consider these things as real and solid goods; they desire and pursue them with extreme eagerness, without caring what means they use to obtain them; they fight and envy one another over them, and they try to take from another what they do not have themselves; they only value or despise others in proportion as those possess or do not possess these perishable goods; in a word, upon the acquisition and enjoyment of temporal things they found all their principles, their entire code of morality and their entire line of conduct.
The spirit of the world is therefore evidently opposed to the spirit of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Jesus Christ and the world condemn one another and reprove one another. In His prayer for His elect, Jesus Christ declares that He does not pray for the world. [2] He announces to His Apostles, and through them to all Christians, that the world will hate and persecute them as it hated and persecuted Him. [3] And He commands them to wage an unrelenting war against the world. [4]
In the first ages of the Church, when nearly all Christians were Saints and the rest of men were plunged in idolatry, it was easy to distinguish the world and know who to associate with and who to avoid. The world, openly in arms against Jesus Christ, was distinguished by unmistakable signs. But after whole nations embraced the Gospel of Christ and Christians grew lax, there gradually formed in their midst a world in which all the vices of idolatry prevail, a world eager for honor, pleasure and wealth, a world whose maxims directly combat the maxims of Jesus Christ.

But because this world makes an outward profession of Christianity, it becomes far more difficult to distinguish. Association with it has become far more dangerous, because it disguises its evil doctrine more cleverly, spreads it more tactfully and employs all its cunning to reconcile it with Christian doctrine. With this end in view, it weakens and softens the holy severity of the Gospel as much as possible. And on the other hand, it conceals the venom of its own false morality as carefully as possible.

This results in a danger of seduction which is all the greater in that it is not easily perceived, so we are not sufficiently on our guard against it. It also results in a certain spirit of accommodation and acquiescence, by which we try to reconcile real Christian severity with the maxims of the world in such matters as ambition and greed, or the inordinate enjoyment of pleasure-----a reconciliation that is impossible, a compromise that can only end in flattering human nature, ruining Christian sanctity and forming a false conscience. It is almost incredible how far
this disorder can go, even in the case of people who pride themselves on their piety and devotion; and it is a disorder that is in one sense harder to correct than one resulting from behavior which is openly worldly and criminal, because such people will never acknowledge that they are wrong and are deluding themselves in these matters.

If we desire to live here on earth without taking part in the corruption of the world, there is only one thing to do: break with the world absolutely in our own hearts and adopt the attitude of Saint Paul when he said, The world is crucified to me, and I to the world. [5] Oh, what wonderful words! And how deep is the meaning they contain! The cross was once the most infamous of all punishments, the punishment of slaves. So when the Apostle says that the world is crucified to him, it is as if he said, "I have the same contempt, the same aversion, the same horror for the world that I have for a vile slave crucified for his crimes. I cannot bear the sight of it: for me it is an object of malediction with which all connection, all association, all relationship is forbidden."

There is nothing exaggerated, nothing but what is perfectly just and right, in this expression of Saint Paul, which ought to be that of all Christians. The reason for this is obvious: the world crucified Jesus Christ after having calumniated, insulted and outraged Him, and the world is crucifying Him now every day. It is therefore just that the world in its turn should be  crucified to the disciple of Christ, that is, it is just that the disciple should have a horror of the chief enemy of his Master, his Saviour, his God.

That is why renunciation of the world is one of the most solemn promises of the Sacrament of Baptism, an essential condition of it, without which the Church would not admit us among its children. Do we ever think of that promise? Do we ever think of the obligations it imposes upon us? Do we ever examine ourselves as to how far that renunciation must go? The Christian's renunciation of the world ought to be as emphatic as the world's renunciation of Jesus Christ. This rule is clear, and we cannot err by applying it ...

The World Has a Gospel Its Own

We have only to hold that "gospel" in one hand and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the other; we have only to compare how the same subjects are treated in these two doctrines and their examples. We have only to oppose Jesus Christ on the cross in suffering, opprobrium and nakedness, to the world surrounded and intoxicated with honors, riches and pleasures, and then say to ourselves, "Here are two irreconcilable enemies engaged in a bitter war against each other. To which of these two do I wish to belong? It is
impossible for me to remain neutral or to take sides with both of them."

If I choose Jesus Christ and His cross, the world will hate me; if I adhere to the world and its vanities, Jesus Christ will reject and condemn me. Is there any room for hesitation? If I hesitate for a moment, am I a Christian? But if I range myself once and for all under the standard of the cross, is it not obvious that from that moment on, the world becomes an enemy with whom I can never again make peace or truce? What a tremendous demand indeed, and what holiness Christians would attain if they were thoroughly penetrated with the greatness of their commitments!

It does not suffice that the world be crucified to us; we must also consent to be crucified to the world, that is, for the world to crucify us as it crucified Jesus Christ, making war against us as it made war against Jesus Christi pursuing, calumniating and outraging us with the same fury, and finally, taking away from us our goods, our honor and even our life. If they have persecuted Me, says Jesus in the Gospel, they will persecute you also. [6] And not only must we consent to all these sacrifices rather than renounce Christian sanctity, but we must make them a cause for joy and triumph. The disciple must glory in being treated like his Master. Jesus Christ said to His
Apostles, If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. This is an infallible rule. The world would not be what it is, or Christians would not be what they ought to be, if they escaped the persecution of the world.

We often seek to be reassured about the state of our soul; we would like to know if we are pleasing to God, if Jesus Christ recognizes us as being His Own. I will give you a way by which you can easily be enlightened, and by which all your uneasiness can be set at rest. See if the world esteems you, shows you respect, speaks well of you, seeks your company. If such is the case, you do not belong to Jesus Christ. But on the contrary, if it censures you, laughs at you, speaks ill of you, avoids you, scorns and hates you, oh, what great cause for consolation you have! Oh, you may then well believe that you do indeed belong to Jesus Christ!

Let us therefore think seriously, before God, what the world is with regard to us and what we are with regard to the world. Let us test our interior dispositions, sound the depths of our own hearts. There we will surely find much that will humble and confound us. We will discover that the maxims of the world have left deep impressions on our mind, and that in many delicate matters our judgment is far too close to them. We will find  that we desire its esteem and fear its contempt; that we cultivate and maintain attachments too easily and feel it too keenly when we are set aside. We will find that very often we have too much consideration, accommodation and human respect for it, and this is a great hindrance to our perfection and keeps us in a state of constraint and dissimulation. In a word, we will find that we are not such faithful friends of Jesus Christ and enemies of the world as we ought to be.

But let us not be discouraged: to triumph entirely over the world, to brave it, despise it and be pleased that in its turn it should despise us and resist us, is not the work of a moment. Let us exercise ourselves in the little occasions that present themselves to us: God loves us, so He will make sure that such occasions are not wanting. And by these little victories, let us prepare ourselves for greater combats. When the need arises, let us remember these words of Jesus Christ:

Have confidence, I have overcome the world. [7] Let us beg of Him to help us overcome it also, or rather to overcome it Himself in us, destroying in our heart the kingdom of the world, so that He may establish His Own kingdom there.

1. St. Matthew 6:33.
2. St. John 17:9.
3. Cf. St. John 15:18-21.
4. Cf. 1 St. John 2:15-16; St. Matthew 18:7.
5. Galatians 6:14.
6. St. John 15:20.
  7. St. John 16:33.



Saint Clare of Montefalco

Born at Montefalco, Italy, in 1268, into a well-to-do family, the Saint was devoted to the Passion of Christ from an early age, and at fifteen withdrew, as had her sister Joan, to a small hermitage. In 1290, this place of withdrawal and prayer became a convent dedicated to the Holy Cross, following the Augustinian rule. She became its abbess in 1291, living in continual penitence and having extraordinary visions. She died with the fame of sanctity in 1308 and was canonized in 1881. She is depicted in the habit of the Dominicans.

Clare is of Latin origin and means "clear, luminous."

Sebastiano Conca Circa 1742-51

Saint Roch

Roch (Rock) of Montpellier, France, lived in the 14th century. A hermit, he made a pilgrimage to Rome, where he cared for plague victims. On his return, sick and alone and expecting to die, he was miraculously healed by an Angel and nourished by a dog. He is thought to have died in prison, after being arrested as a spy. Devotion to the Saint spread immediately. Here he is depicted dressed as a pilgrim lifting his robe to reveal the mark of the plague on his thigh; a dog which is usually nearby in paintings is not in this image as we do not have a copy of the full piece. He is invoked against the plague.

PROTECTOR: Surgeons, gravediggers. pharmacists. pavers, pilgrims, travelers. the sick, and prisoners.

Bartolomeo Vivarini 1480

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