Excerpts From In the Shadow of His Light
Mother M. Angelica
Detachment

Could it be that the best way to become detached is to have an overwhelming attachment to God?

It is not so much the possession of things that makes me attached; it is the burden these things impose—the fear of loss, the greed for more, the power they exert, the glitter that is so bright for so short a time. All this puts me in a vicious circle that is hard to change. The more I have, the more I want; the more I want, the more anxious I become and everyday my mind and soul are absorbed in a complex web too tight to break through.

The visible reality brings a degree of happiness, but not peace; it gives' a glow but not a light; it gives security but never assurance; it promotes love based on service, but never feeds the love that is based on sacrifice.

Is detachment the answer to freedom? No, because detachment is negative—it is to be without. The answer must be positive—I must replace what I have with something better. The things that occupy my mind and are contrary to the Divine Will are the things that exercise the greatest power over my soul.

I must rise above the things that pass by seeing God in them. The essence of attachment is to possess, to hang on to, and yet everything is passing. Why should I put my heart in anything that is here today and gone tomorrow.

Where, my soul, is the balance between compassion and detachment, providing for today and not being anxious for tomorrow, having things and not possessing them, deeply caring and being unselfish? The balance is a deep and strong love for God. All lesser loves fall away in the presence of a great Loveand here is the balance and the answer to detachment: Supernatural Love.

Supernatural Love is free and unattached because it is based on an unseen Reality; it is sure because that Reality is eternal; it is strong because it is fed by God Himself; it can possess things without being possessed by them; it can love people and be content if that love is not returned; it can give and give and never run dry.

It is then, a matter of preference and priorities and first things first. It is not a matter of having or not having, of being rich or poor, a success or failure. It is putting God and His Kingdom FIRST, FOREMOST and ALWAYS, knowing that all these other things will be added.

The secret to real freedom is to prefer God to everything and to do everything for God.

THE LOWEST PLACE

The word "humility" is misunderstood by most people and despised by others. It does not mean making oneself a doormat. Jesus told us to learn from Him how to be meek and humble of heart. We must look at His life if we are to have any concept of what humility is all about.

Christ took the form of a servant but He never ceased to be the Master; He took the lowest place but was always the Leader; He was meek when accused unjustly, but strong enough to call men hypocrites when He had to; He cured the blind and then told them not to tell anyone; He felt the jealousy and hatred of His enemies but never lost His serenity; He was afraid in the Garden of Gethsemane, but did what He had to do; He suffered unheard of torments and asked forgiveness for His executioners; He felt abandoned but commended His soul to His Father. This is how He was humble.

Humility is-to know my place before God and to be grateful and to take my place before men with lowliness.

SELF-CONTROL
When I deny myself, what am I really doing? The power of my will is so strong that I can say "no" even to God. Although it is a spiritual faculty, the will needs exercise in order to
strengthen itself-just as a muscle needs exercise to keep its tone. Misuse and no-use mean death to both physical and spiritual faculties. Every time I say "no" to a small temptation, I strengthen my will to say "no" to a greater one. The more my will is turned toward God, the greater will be my union with His Son.

POSITIVE EFFECTS OF SELF-DENIAL

Love is increased when I refrain from speaking of my neighbor's faults.
Patience grows when I listen to a boring account of a friend's neurosis. Temperance becomes stronger when I use moderation.
Justice is sweetened when I put myself in my neighbor's shoes and forgive his offenses. Gentleness gives me more control when the opportunity to lose my temper is squelched. Humility is preserved when I give credit where credit is due—to God.
Prudence becomes easy when I forget myself and look for the good of others.
Fortitude is strengthened when I accept pain and suffering with resignation.

THE CALL TO HOLINESS

God alone is holy and good and I find myself in the same position as St. Paul when he said that the things he wanted to do, he did not do and the things he didn't want to do, he did. This proves that Paul was an ordinary man with a mission from God. I too have a mission—to cooperate with the working of the Holy Spirit by developing the seed of holiness (grace), planted in my soul by Baptism. The essence of holiness is not doing great things, but in doing ordinary things with great love for God and neighbor.

A TIME OF DECISION

It is difficult to lead a Christian life today. The world has so much to offer and even though I find only emptiness, there are so many things waiting to fill the vacuum in my soul that God doesn't seem to have a chance and then, one day, through the prayer of a friend, a sermon, a book—my life begins to have meaning and Jesus becomes real and alive in my soul. A whole new world opens up. I see the Hand of Jesus and His love in many places and suddenly I realize the things that held me in such bondage before have lost their meaning.

I seem alone in the midst of crowds. The things of the past no longer interest me and I cannot see the future. It is the time of decision. The seed has fallen to the ground and begun to germinate. The Lord and the world wait with expectation. The best way to make any decision is to face it head-on and weigh all the pros and cons.

PRO If I choose the Lord, I will have joy and pain, but His strength will uphold me and the reward is eternal.

CON If I choose the world, there may be happiness here and there, but the pain will make me bitter and the reward is passing.

PRO If I spend some time each day in prayer, Scripture reading and an effort to see His love in everything, I will arrive at peace of soul and joy of heart.

CON If I choose to fill my day with gossip, hours of television and fun and games, my day will be empty and my life more and more shallow.

PRO The Love and joy that come from Jesus in my soul will radiate to my neighbor and give him hope in times of despair.

CON My best friends may think my new-found love is a threat to their lives and turn away from me.

PRO In my business associations I will see I things and make decisions by Christian principles, giving fair wages, being honest and unprejudiced in dealing with employees - and thereby witness to my love for Jesus.

CON I may possibly bring down upon myself the ridicule of my partners and associates and be accounted as a fool and unrealistic for living by Christian principles.

Before I make a final decision I must look at the Lord. Jesus chose me by accepting the opposition and ridicule of the majority as part of my salvation.

He didn't mind being considered a fool because He knew this was part of the price He had to pay so I might enter the Kingdom.

He was happy to have a few friends accept Him as He was rather than accept the applause of the crowds who cried aloud, "Hosanna to the Son of David."

He was brave enough to suffer the loss of all things, knowing that someday I would be asked to give up a few things.

My new life then, as a Christian, is a matter of choices. Everyday there are opportunities to choose the Lord and I can do this without fuss and fanfare. My neighbor must not be made to feel that, now that I have found the Lord, he is not good enough for me.

The first Christians attracted pagans, not by quoting Scripture, but by having joy in the Lord in every circumstance, by love for everyone especially enemies, by breaking bread together, praying together, singing in their hearts and having a beautiful assurance that Jesus is the Lord. They made Christianity so attractive that people flocked to join them.

The time for choosing has arrived.

I CHOOSE THE LORD

THE LIFE TO COME

I know that life is a pilgrimage, a testing ground and a time for growth. I must be aware of two realities—the visible that I can see and the invisible that I cannot see. My whole life must be geared toward a perfect harmony between these two realities.

If I look at only the visible and ignore the spiritual, I am a fool; if I see only the spiritual and ignore the visible, I am unreal. Now that I have made my choice I must maintain a balance between these two forces in my life.

I have seen what I must do and what rewards I will have in this life—but what of the next?

IN HEAVEN

God Himself will wipe away every tear from my eyes and sorrow will be no more.

There will be no disappointment, failure or separation in the Kingdom. Everyone without exception will love me and I will love them in return.

I will constantly learn new mysteries about God that will enlighten my soul and make it experience untold delights. I will never again feel fear, distrust or anger—only security, assurance and perfect peace. I will know the reason behind every pain and heartache during my earthly sojourn and I will exclaim, "How great Thou art—to give so much for so little."

BACK TO EARTH

It often happens that after I have chosen to follow the Lord I suddenly feel a strange emptiness and a distaste for anything spiritual. I wonder what's wrong? Have I displeased the Lord? Has He withdrawn His Presence because of my unworthiness?

No-if I am sincerely trying to do His Will and love my neighbor, I know this dryness is for my good. The Lord is purifying my soul of all selfishness so I may love Him for Himself alone. I will consider how I may grow strong in Faith, Hope and Love so the reflection of Jesus in my soul will become brighter and glorify my Father.

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE

These three infused supernatural virtues, given to me at Baptism, are interwoven in my life like the petals of a flower. Faith tells me that what I believe in is true; Hope tells me the One I believe in is faithful; Love tells me the One I believe in is mine.

FAITH is the virtue of the threshold; it makes me see in darkness now what I shall see by vision in eternity.

HOPE is the virtue of the road; it assures me that I posses NOW what I shall possess in eternity.

LOVE is the virtue of the goal; it permits me to experience NOW what I shall delight in for all eternity.

WHAT IS FAITH

FAITH IS:

an encounter in love between myself and God. a constant giving on God's part and a loving acceptance on mine.

a prevention against being complacent and a means of reaching for the invisible. believing what God has revealed just because He revealed it and being content with the mystery I do not understand. believing that God is Love and that somehow everything tends to good for those who love Him.

HOW TO GROW IN FAITH

I will thank God for the Gift of Faith and pray every day for an increase of this virtue which puts me in such loving contact with God. I will read Scripture and other books designed to increase my Faith and teach me how to see God around me and within me.

I will be careful not to bring the Wisdom of God down to my own level by refusing to believe those truths of Faith beyond my comprehension.

WHAT IS HOPE?

Hope tells me that God not only wants me to be with Him in Heaven, but that He longs to live in intimate union with me NOW.

Hope tells me that God takes His delight in making me holy, especially when He has so little to work with.

Hope prevents me from being presumptuous or rash by thinking no effort on my part is needed to avoid sin.

Hope prevents me from being discouraged when I fall for I hope with certainty that God will do for me what my efforts alone can never do-make me holy.

HOW TO GROW IN HOPE

I know that God is Infinite Mercy and Infinite Justice, but if these two concepts are not harmonized perfectly by Hope, I run the risk of presuming on His Mercy by committing sin or despairing after sin by realizing His Justice.

Hope is an equalizer, a balancer, a harmonizer. It harmonizes these two attributes of Mercy and Justice in my life by giving me a childlike relationship with God as Father. This relationship bestows upon me courage to resist temptation out of love.

Faith and Hope are so interwoven that at times Faith is a certainty that gives me assurance, and Hope is an assurance that gives me certainty.

WHAT IS LOVE?

Love is a tendency of the soul towards good, and so it means many things to many people, but when the good I seek is only perceived by Faith, that Love is supernatural-it is Christian Love. It is a gift given to me at Baptism, and one I must grow in every moment of my life.

HOW DID JESUS LOVE ME?

He left all of Heaven to come down and teach me by word and example how to live. I am more valuable to Him than all of creation.

I WILL LOVE MY NEIGHBOR AS JESUS LOVES ME BY—

Loving him as he is,
being patient with his sins, realizing I have a beam in my own eye,
making it easy for those who have offended me to ask forgiveness and assuring them all is forgotten,
weeping with those who weep and laughing with those who laugh.

PRAYER

Lord God and Father, You are Love; Your Son showed me Your Love and Your Spirit gave me Your Love. Grant me the grace I need to be love, to show Love and to give Love to my neighbor in the same way You have given Yourself to me. Amen.

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The author prays that all those who read this booklet will have a deeper awareness of the Father's Mercy, the Son's Love and the Spirit's Power.

Printed with the ecclesiastical approval of
JOSEPH G. VATH, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham
Alabama, USA

©1976 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc.

Scripture Quotations taken from Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise indicated


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