There is a shift in consciousness that is essential to religion. It is the shift—conversion if you will—from a world-centered perspective to a God-centered perspective. It involves a letting-go of passing things in this world and resolutely clinging to God alone.
That means even letting go of relationships—even the best and most intense. Mind you, I don’t mean this in the literal sense, but, if I can put it this way, in the attitudinal sense, “as if” they were not all defining.
St. Paul tells us that we are not to make the things of this world all important. We are not to be sad or happy but we are to understand that worldly happiness or unhappiness ultimately doesn’t matter.
St. Paul was so overwhelmed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that everything in this world was relativized. God’s love and purpose and existence—made eminently clear in the Resurrection—caused this world to fade into relative insignificance.
This is the apatheia urged by the Greek fathers and the indifferencia of Ignatius of Loyola: “Whether I have a long life or a short life; whether I am healthy or ill; whether I am wealthy or impoverished—it doesn’t matter, as long as I am serving the Lord.”
Instead of seeing money, success, fame, power, and pleasure as ultimate goods, see them as nothing compared to the grace of God. Instead of living as though worldly success were ultimate, live as though the things of this world don’t matter at all. In a word, change your mind, and see things from the perspective of God.
Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.