Recently, I heard Fr Watson say: ”The one thing you are attached to is the one thing God wants.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. Immediately I began to take inventory of my attachments, both large and small.
Why does God want our attachment(s)?
“To be perfectly united to God by love and will, the soul must first be cleansed of all appetites of the will, even the smallest” (John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel Book1, 11,3) In the language of St John of the Cross, appetites are disordered inclinations or affections, more or less contrary to the divine will. God wishes us to love ourselves, as well as all created things, in the measure assigned by Him, with a view to His pleasure and not to our own selfish satisfaction. These inclinations or appetites always give rise to venial sins, or at least to deliberate imperfections, when one willingly yields to them, even though it be only in matter of slight importance. The will of the soul which freely assents to these failings, slight though they be, is stained by this opposition to the will of God; for this reason, a perfect union cannot exist between its will and God’s. Moreover, if these imperfections become habitual and the soul does not try to correct them, they form a great obstacle to divine union; and according to St John of the Cross, “they prevent not only divine union but also advancement in perfection” (Divine Intimacy #79 Voluntary attachments)
For example: “As long as attachment remains, it is impossible to make progress in perfection, even though the imperfection may be very small. It makes little difference whether a bird is tied by a thin thread or by a cord. Even if it is tied by a thread, the bird will be held bound least as surely as if it were tied by cord; that is, it will be impeded from flying as long as it does not break the thread.’ (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, Chapter11.4)’
Are you aware of your attachments?
Being aware of our attachments is the first step. Do you love and/or trust someone or something more than God? And once we are aware of our attachments, how does John of the Cross recommend detaching from creature and things, even the smallest imperfection?
Endeavor always…“Not to the easiest, but to the most difficult; Not to the most delightful, but to the most distasteful; Not to the most gratifying, but to the less pleasant; Not to what means rest for you, but to hard work; Not to the consoling, but to the unconsoling; Not to the most, but to the least; not to the highest and most precious, but to the lowest and most despised; not to wanting something, but to wanting nothing. “ (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, Chapter13.5)