Thursday, February 12, 2009

Disengaging and Reengaging the World

The devotional masters write much about training the heart in two opposite directions: contemptus mundi, our being torn loose from all earthly attachments and ambitions, and amor mundi, our being quickened to a divine but painful compassion for the world.

In the beginning God plucks the world out of our hearts—contemptus mundi. Here we experience a loosening of the chains of attachment to positions of prominence and power. All our longings for social recognition, to have our name in lights, begin to appear puny and trifling. We learn to let go of all control, all managing, all manipulation. We freely and joyfully live without guile. We experience a glorious detachment from this world and all it offers.

And then, just when we have become free from it all, God hurls the world back into our heart—amor mundi—where we and God together carry the world in infinitely tender love. We deepen in our compassion for the bruised, the broken, the dispossessed. We ache and pray and labor for others in a new way, a selfless way, a joy-filled way. Our heart is enlarged toward those on the margins. Indeed, our heart is enlarged toward all people, toward all of Creation.

Richard Foster

Spiritual Formation Agenda

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