Set aside not above

To be consecrated in the truth in this world is to be set aside by grace to achieve a divine purpose wherever you find yourself. You will not fulfill your divinely gifted purpose by hating the material world and living only for the spiritual. You will not fulfill your divinely gifted purpose by hating the transcendent world and living only in the flesh. We are body and soul. Neither one nor the other wholly without the other. If you are only your soul, then what you do materially is irrelevant to your spiritual growth. Be spiritual! And be as you please. If you are only your body, then what you believe about the spiritual is irrelevant to your material growth. Just do it! And do anything you please. Christians are saddled with a much more difficult task: as embodied souls consecrated in the truth, we are bound materially to a world ruled by sin and obligated to achieve spiritual purity in the midst of physical temptation. What we do materially affects us spiritually. What we believe about spiritual truths affects us materially.

If this is true, and it is, what good does it do us to be consecrated in the truth? We are set aside not above. “To consecrate” means “to aside for a specific purpose.” We consecrate things, people, places. We don’t use the altar as a card table. We don’t use a chalice to chug beer. Priests and religious do not participate in government as elected or appointed officials. As baptized priests, prophets, and kings of the Father’s Kingdom, we are set aside to work toward and achieve a specific goal, an end that perfects us in all His gifts. Notice that Jesus does not say that he has removed us from the battleground of this world. He does not elevate us above it or subject us to it. He does not say that we do not belong in the world. He says that we do not belong TO this world. We are not slaves, citizens, or subjects of the dominion of the Enemy. Our purpose is not defined by the laws of nature or the rules of engagement followed by the Enemy. We are free. We are free from this world in order to be free for this world. Not above the world. Not of this world. But in it and beside it, not belonging to it, but free to show a better way, a divinely gifted Way.

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Set aside not above

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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