Freedom from Attachment

A priest refused to go on a mission because he could not stay too far from his mother. The bishop begged him, but he would not agree. Three years after his refusal to go on a mission, his mother passed away. In reaction to his mother’s death, the priest became so sick and five years later, he passed away too, at the age of 57. At the funeral, the bishop lamented over his death, and wondered if his mother would actually want her son to be so attached to her as to not be able to fulfill his mission as a priest! On another occasion, a married man had so many problems with his wife because his own father was always the deciding factor in his marital relationship. He and his Dad were very close to a fault, for he would rather sell out his wife and children than not do what his Dad wanted. Though he had married three times, the same issue continued to ruin his marital life. God wants us to love, but he wants us to love others with great freedom.

A great paradox we deal with in life is the one between attachment and freedom. Attachment is a state of mind in which we invest emotion on certain things, persons, and places so that we kind of identify our life and happiness with those things, persons, and places. The capacity to develop an attachment toward significant persons in our lives is considered a positive aspect of human development. But, like everything in life, attachments can be healthy or unhealthy, disruptive, or promoting of growth. If the Lord had not helped me to break through my attachment to my father’s home, it would have been extremely difficult for me to work as a priest outside my country. Then I would have missed the many opportunities and challenges the Lord wanted me to experience, so I can grow in my relationship with Him and be better able to serve those He has entrusted into my care.

To be healthy, attachments must promote freedom to follow the inspirations and directions of the Lord, who knows us deeply and has plans for each one of us. Attachments must be approached with a detached disposition otherwise it becomes the most potent source of suffering and misery.

So, when Jesus says that we must be willing to hate mother, father, brother, sister, country, etc. in order to be his disciples, He is simply inviting us to examine all the attachments we have in our lives, and how those attachments prevent us from hearing His voice and living in peace and joy. Our attachments are always the source of many of our pains and sufferings: just think of those persons and things we strongly believe we cannot be happy without! That is the voice of attachment. Attachments say that I can’t be happy unless I have this, and so I struggle to get it; and when I get it, I struggle to keep it, otherwise I lose it, and losing it means losing peace and joy. Name it: it could be money, a relationship, toys, beauty, youthful look, house, car, etc. Our Lord wants us to love persons and things in freedom, for everything, even our loved ones, are all gifts from God. If we realize that all we love are gifts from God, we would love them with open mind, filled with gratitude. Only then can they give us true peace and joy. Trying to possess through unhealthy attachments, what the Lord has given to us as gift, is to set oneself up for a life of misery and unhappiness.

Take time this week to sincerely look at the persons, things, places, ideas you are attached to, and observe how they truly can give you refreshing peace and joy; but also observe how your unhealthy attachment to those persons and things give you so much anxiety and misery. When we are in true relationship with God, He sets us free from all our unhealthy attachments. It is my prayer for you. Amen