“Purifying our attachments.” This was a phrase I read this morning in Living Faith, Daily Catholic Devotions. It was part of Elizabeth Duffy’s reflection on Mark 10:29-30, today’s gospel where Jesus says that those who have given up house, lands, and family for the sake of the kingdom will receive a hundred fold. That receipt included persecutions of course, as well as eternal life. The persecution part didn’t excite me but often is the very thing that purifies. Even not being accepted because of being different or thinking differently or perceived as a threat to the established code can be forms of persecution. One doesn’t need to physically die.
Fear is a clear sign of attachment. One doesn’t fear losing what one is not attached to. I tend to think the great majority of people fear losing their livelihood, those closest to us, and life itself. Rare is the person who can face those things with serenity. That’s probably a good thing actually. It’s key to survival.
There is an attachment that plagues those with mental and emotional conditions that surely needs purifying. I’m talking here about thinking ones self as incompetent, worthless, or unworthy of love. These beliefs and associated feelings prevent God from entering and bringing light to the world. We can pray for healing but do we really want it? It would mean leaving an identity behind. That perhaps is the greatest purification, the purification of our experience of our selves. It is the one that changes our attitude towards all the other concrete attachments we have.
Perhaps we should pray for that loss, the loss of our present, limiting identity. Better yet, perhaps we should do something about it by getting help, support, and forcing ourselves to act as if we believe we are the opposite– competent, worth something important, and worthy. Being purified is passive and lends to complaining. Helping the process along by jumping into the flames is active. Imagine it as jumping into the heart of God, however a stretch that may seem. “God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God and God in him.”
Picture by Nicolas M. Perrault. Author has dedicated work to public domain, June 2009, on Wikimedia.