“Two loves have made two cities. The love of God until the contempt of oneself made the celestial city; the love of oneself until the contempt of God made the terrestrial city.” Saint Augustine, by this famous sentence, warns against the spirit of the world, while attracting to true love, the one that makes other loves good, the love of God. Every day of our short lives we must be careful to restore to God the love we have stolen from him for the benefit of something else. The stakes are high.
The Spirit of Faith and the Spirit of Error
The difference between the worldly and the Catholic (let's say that there is an individual purely verifying each species) is the role of faith in life. The one who does not have faith, or who has lost it, is worldly. His hopes stop at sea level, so to speak. The problem is more crucial for the Catholic who has faith, but a faith that has little or no driving force. It is like putting God's supernatural truths, and therefore supernatural hopes and purposes, in brackets. Like a book in the library that one never opens. And yet we have this book.
So the problem is simple. The one who is rather Catholic, with a faith that touches the details of his life, will transfer his love, his goal, his hopes, mainly to God, and also possibly to other things as long as they do not take him away from God's love. He is essentially in the truth, which is Our Lord Himself.
The worldly person, who puts his faith in brackets, will focus his attention and his heart on what is happening on earth. He will often see things from the human point of view, by natural reason alone. He will therefore often be in error, failing to submit his reason to the light of faith. This “forgetting,” this putting in brackets, this abstraction of faith is a spirit of error, a spirit of lies even, it is in the end the spirit of the devil who wants only to detach man from God. This man is ripe then for the three concupiscences.
The Spirit of Our Lord, and the Spirit of Enjoyment
When a soul has a rather vague, abstract contact with God, it turns to something else, because the human heart is made to love; but the soul is wounded by sin (original and personal). “All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life” (I John 2:16). Faith being on vacation, reason will inevitably make the heart deviate towards these three concupiscences.
The spirit of the world, the spirit of error, will mix the true and the false and thus reassure the heart, with affirmations, reasoning not necessarily false considered in itself, that is to say without faith. But the heart will be distorted. Examples: one can give oneself pleasures from time to time; doing this is not a sin; the good Lord is good; it is not intrinsically bad (we often hear this about the internet); one must not be stuck; I do not want to dress with a potato sack; my fiancée goes to the right Mass; this evening (rally...) is organized by a tradi... etc.
The Catholic tries to fight with Our Lord against these three lures of the world. He often meditates on the passion of Our Lord, he mortifies his flesh as Our Lord wished to be broken, torn in His own; and thus he hopes to obtain through the purity of the body a more luminous and effective faith, guide of an ever more fervent love of Our Lord, and of an ever more ardent desire for heaven.
The Catholic contemplates the complete destitution of Our Lord from the crib to the Cross; therefore, he detaches himself in spirit from money (whether he has any or not), from modern gadgets; he flees from vain imaginations, daydreams, curiosities (the latest news on the Internet, for example). He wants his soul to be rich with heavenly gifts, and loving Jesus stripped on His Cross, he tells himself that Jesus will love him in turn and communicate to him the riches of His holy Soul. The Catholic counts all the humiliations of the Savior in His passion, He the Lamb of God who allows Himself to be led and who stretches out His arms on the Cross. He admires the gentleness, the mercy of Our Lord on the Cross for His enemies, for sinners. He tries to understand how the annihilation, so to speak, of Our Lord does so much good to souls. And he wants to follow his Leader in this way, to fight against vanity, independence, self-sufficiency, disobedience, and above all human respect; he tries to stoop down before others, as far as it is possible to do so properly, he feels that in this way Our Lord's offering of love to His Father will penetrate his will and pass, like the torch, to others.
The worldly, alas, is far from all this. If he were only a sinner, it would be different. The Catholic is also a sinner, sometimes more so than the worldly person. But the heart of the worldly person is caught in the nets of worldly goods not seen in the light of faith. In the darkness, the worldly person will often persecute the Catholic, as Our Lord announces in the Beatitudes.
The Spirit of Victory and the Spirit of Persecution
The Catholic, the just, lives by faith. The worldly man lives without faith, even if he has it. The Catholic resolutely orients his life towards Heaven through the Cross; the worldly person allows himself to be lulled by the three concupiscences. But the two live together, in the same world, in the same city, the same family, the same school, the same parish. The Catholic is a permanent reproach for the worldly person. “Because you are not of the world and I have chosen you from the midst of the world, because of this the world hates you,” says Our Lord. The worldly person, with his distorted heart, is mistaken about the Catholic, making him a bigot, a retard, a cornered person, a moralizer, a fundamentalist, a racist, a killjoy, a sad sire, a naive, a supernaturalist, a depressive. The worldly person feels that the Catholic is right, he sees that he has a goal, that he acts according to a principle, which he does not do himself. He will delay or attack, depending on the circumstances. “Whatever we do,” says St. Francis de Sales, “the world will always make war on us. It will study all our movements; and for a somewhat lively word, it will protest that we are unbearable. It will take for avarice the care of our affairs, and it will call our gentleness foolishness. But when it comes to the children of the century, anger is generous, avarice wise economy, and manners too free for honest conversation.”
The Catholic bends his back and continues firmly on his path, invariable in his resolutions. He knows that “our victory over the world is our faith” (I John 5:4), and he perseveres in all his duties. He separates himself from the world, from its spirit of error, from its attractions, endures oppositions with equality of soul. He knows that he is a sinner, but he tries to take care of himself, he does not look for false excuses, false arguments. He strives to know better the love that Our Lord has for souls, he likes to withdraw to pray to Him, and he mingles with the world if fraternal charity or other duties require it.
Abbé Jacques Mérel
Source : Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine n°67