Published on:

1st Mar 2018

In the World but not of the World

In the world but not of the world

Lourdes asked the Lord regarding our community’s relationship with the world. Are we to flee from the world or engage it. This was the answer:

1. My little one (to retreat) is not the way that I am seeking for these end times. Satan will be defeated by heroic acts of love united to My perfect sacrifice of love. 

2. I need souls willing to live in the world but not of the world.

3. Souls who receive the brokenness of other souls and suffer for them as one with Me solely for love.

4. Souls immersed in the darkness of this world to fight as My soldiers of Light against the demons of hell.

5. These are My hidden victim souls in the world living through Me, with Me, and in Me.

6. My little one, Satan will try many tactics to move your heart from the desire of My Heart. 

7. I am forming you (plural) as My warriors of the great battle.

Now I shall reflect on the above seven points:

1) How did Jesus defeat Satan?

  • It was a battle but not as we may imagine.
  • Most of His life was hidden, but living in the world, not isolated. He lived among the people of Nazareth who knew Him. -they thought. 
  • Then He lived intimately close to His disciples.
  • Finally, death on the Cross.
  • Every step Jesus lived in heroic love in the ordinary things while being misunderstood, rejected, giving Himself when He had other plans. He takes His disciples to rest only to find a multitude. Even His plans are changed, and He continues loving unto the Cross.
  •  Lourdes’s example of how we are to apply this: A husband that returning from work proceeds to be attentive to his wife and children instead of seeking his pleasure (tv, computer....)  

2) Willing to live in the world but not of the world.

  • Jesus said: “Do not be conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2).
  • Fr. Cantalamessa comments: “After these words, we would expect to hear, “but transform it!” Instead, He tells us, “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, “in other words: “Transform yourselves!” Transform the world, yes, but the world within you before thinking you can transform the world outside of you.
  • We are to participate in His mission, and so He goes on to say: “that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Jesus defeated Satan by becoming flesh and loving in the world with a human heart. He came to redeem all that is human, even the most ordinary, making it the locus for our growth in holiness.

3) Souls who receive the brokenness of others and suffer with them as one with Me solely for love

  • When others hurt us, we want to run away! The hurt eclipses our discernment, and we find a pious reason to break relationships. Had we given the Lord time, we could have seen our mistake; we could have seen how we are growing through the trials.
  • When we run from suffering and still want to feel pious, we become fake saints.
  • We want to love those we find lovable.
  1. Mt 5:44 “Jesus said to his disciples: “I say to you, love your enemies... For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
  • How does the Father reveal His perfection? -By sending to us His only Son, while we were sinners.
  1. Jesus reveals the Father’s perfection with His love, receiving the sin, the brokenness, the sorrows of all.
  2. He asks us: “Will you be one with Me?” Will you receive My love so that you can love as I love?

4) Souls immersed in the darkness of the world to fight as my soldiers of Light and against demons.

  • Yes, the world is in darkness, but we have the mission to go into the darkness being light.
  • This brings us into the same battle Jesus fought unto the Cross.

5) These are My hidden victim souls in the world living through Me, with Me, and in Me.

  • Our lives are hidden in the sense that they are ordinary, unrecognized by most.
  1. We don’t seem to have an impact on the world.
  • Our flesh would prefer to be admired heroes.
  • The essence of holiness is the love of Christ, hidden to the world even though He is in the world.
  • We must trust and allow the Spirit to lead us. Learn to wait for the Lord so that we live through, with, and in Him. How am I doing this in my present trials?
  • At the root of sin is our independence from God. A new letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warns of old heresies coming back: neo-Pelagianism refers to individuals who believe themselves to be “radically autonomous,” who presume to be able to save themselves and their own strength. Our fallen nature finds it hard “welcoming the newness of the Spirit of God.” He teaches us a way that we would not have considered.

6) My little one, Satan will try many tactics to move your heart from the desire of My Heart. I am forming you (plural) as My warriors of the great battle.

  • The Lord is forming us as warriors for the great battle.
  • To win a war, you need to know the enemy. We learn the enemy’s tactics from Scripture, the lives of the saints, our community’s teaching, and our own experience.
  • More importantly, we need to know and trust the Lord from Whom we receive power and direction. 
  1. He will expose the lies of the enemy. He will reveal the battle plan and implement it in our daily life.
  2. He gives us self-knowledge (our sin, our weaknesses) and reveals what God wants us to be.
  • None of the above is possible unless we are open to the Holy Spirit to bring them to life.

7) I am forming you (plural) as My warriors of the great battle.

  • As warriors, we must be focused on the mission.
  • Victim souls are one with Christ in His self giving to the Father. 
  • They are disciplined as warriors: time to get up, time to pray, Eucharist, share with family, work, accompaniment, and go to sleep on time.

See also:

First Lenten homily 2018- Father Raniero Cantalamessa.


 “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

In a society where everyone feels called to transform the world or the Church, this word of God breaks in, inviting people to transform themselves: “Do not be conformed to this world.” After these words, we would expect to hear, “but transform it!” Instead, it tells us, “Transform yourselves!” Transform the world, yes, but the world within you before thinking you can transform the world outside of you.

This word of God, taken from the Letter to the Romans, introduces us to the spirit of Lent this year. As has been the case for some years now, we will dedicate this first meditation to a general introduction to Lent without entering into the special theme of this year because of the absence of part of the habitual audience who are committed elsewhere for the Spiritual Exercises.

1. Christians and the World

Let us first take a look at how the ideal of detachment from the world was understood and lived out from the beginning till our day. It is always useful to take into account the experiences of the past if we want to understand the requirements for the present.

In the Synoptic Gospels the word “world” (kosmos) is almost always understood in a morally neutral sense. In its spatial meaning, “world” indicates the earth and the universe (“Go into all the world”). In its temporal meaning, it indicates the present time or “age” (aion). It is with Paul, and even more with John, that the word “world” takes on a moral dimension and most often signifies the world as it became after sin and fell under the dominion of Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). This is the meaning of “world” in Paul’s exhortation that we began with and in the almost identical exhortation of John in his

First Letter:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 Jn 2:15-16)

Christians never lost sight of the fact that the world in itself, despite everything, is and remains God’s good creation, a creation that he loves and came to save, not to judge: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

The attitude toward the world that Jesus proposes to his disciples is contained in two prepositions: to be in the world but not of the world. “Now I am no more in the world,” he says, addressing the Father, “but they are in the world. . . . They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:11, 16).

In the first three centuries, the disciples were quite conscious of their unique position. The “Epistle to Diognetus,” an anonymous writing at the end of the second century, describes the perception that Christians had of themselves in the world:

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. . . . They follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them [to die]. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh.[1]

Let us very briefly summarize what followed. When Christianity became a religion that was tolerated and soon after even protected and favored, the tension between Christianity and the world tended inevitably to subside since the world had become—or at least was considered to be—a “Christian world.” Then we witness a double phenomenon. On the one hand, groups of people, desiring to remain the salt of the earth that did not lose its savor, fled from the world, even physically, and withdrew to the desert.

Monasticism was born under the banner of a motto that goes back to the monk Arsenius: “Fuge, tace, quiesce,” “Flee, be silent, be still.” [2]

At the same time, the pastors of the Church and some of the more enlightened people sought to adapt the ideal of detachment from the world for all believers, proposing not a physical but a spiritual flight from the world. St. Basil in the East and St Augustine in the West were familiar with Plato’s thinking, especially in the ascetic form it had taken with his disciple Plotinus. In this cultural atmosphere, the ideal of flight from the world was alive. It was related, however, to a flight that was vertical rather than horizontal, so to speak, a flight upward and not toward the desert. It consisted in raising oneself above the multiplicity of material things and human passions to unite oneself with what is divine, incorruptible, and eternal.

The Fathers of the Church, with the Cappadocians in the lead, proposed a Christian asceticism that responded to this religious need and adopted its language without, however, ever sacrificing the values of the gospel. To start with, the flight from the world that they recommended is a work of grace more than it is human effort.The fundamental step is not at the end of the road but at its beginning, in baptism. It is therefore not reserved to a few educated people but is open to all. St. Ambrose wrote a short treatise called “Flight from the World,” addressed to all the neophytes.[3] The separation from the world that he proposes is above all affective: “Flight,” he says, “is not to depart from the earth but to remain on earth, to hold to justice and temperance, to renounce the vices in material goods, not their use.” [4]

This ideal of detachment and flight from the world will, in diverse forms, accompany the whole history of Christian spirituality. A prayer in the liturgy summarizes this in the saying, “terrena despicere et amarecaelestia”: “to despise earthly things and to love heavenly things.” (The same prayer in modern liturgy says: “to use with wisdom earthly things, always oriented to the heavenly goods”)

2. The Crisis of the Ideal of “fuga mundi”

Things changed in the period prior to ours. With regard to the ideal of the separation from the world, we went through, a period in which that ideal was “criticized” and looked at with suspicion. This crisis has distant roots. It begins—at least on the theoretical level—with Renaissance humanism that revived interest and enthusiasm for worldly values, at times with a pagan cast. But the decisive factor of the crisis is seen in the phenomenon of the so-called “secularization” that began in the Enlightenment and reached its peak in the twentieth century.

The most evident change concerns precisely the concepts of “world” and “age.” In all of the history of Christian spirituality, the word “saeculum” has had a connotation that tended to be negative, or at least ambiguous. It meant the present age that is subject to sin, as opposed to the future age or eternity. Within a few decades, its meaning underwent a transformation until it took on a decidedly positive significance in the 1960s and 1970s. Some titles themselves of the books that emerged during those years, like The Secular Meaning of the Gospel by Paul van Buren and The Secular City by Harvey Cox, highlighted this new optimistic meaning of “saeculum” and “secular.” A “theology of secularization” was born.

All of this contributed, however, to fuel an exaggerated optimism about the world for some people that does sufficiently not take into account its other face—the one which is “under the evil one” and is opposed to the spirit of Christ (see Jn 14:17). At a certain moment the traditional idea of flight “from” the world was substituted in the minds of many (including clergy and religious) with the ideal of a flight “toward” the world, that is, worldliness.

In this context some of the most absurd and delusional things that have ever come under the name of “theology” have been written. The first is the idea that God himself becomes secular and worldly when he lays aside his Godhead to become man. This is the so-called “Theology of the Death of God.” There also still exists a balanced theology of secularization in which secularization is not seen as something opposed to the gospel but rather as its product. However, that is not the theology we are talking about.

Someone has commented that the “theologies of secularization” referred to above were nothing but apologetic attempts meant “to furnish an ideological justification for the religious indifference in modern man”; they also fit with “the ideology that the Churches needed to justify their growing marginalization.” [5] It soon became clear that this was a blind alley. In a few years almost no one was talking about the theology of secularization, and some of its very promotors distanced themselves from it.

As always, to reach the bottom of a crisis becomes an occasion for going back to the “living and eternal” word of God. Let us listen to Paul’s exhortation again: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We already know from the New Testament which world not to be conformed to: it is not the world created and loved by God and not the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor, the downtrodden, and the suffering. “Blending in” with this suffering and marginalized world is, paradoxically, the best way of “separating” ourselves from the world because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as possible. It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness.

Let us focus for a bit on the significance of what follows: being transformed in the deep recesses of our minds. Everything in us begins in the mind, with thoughts. There is a wise maxim that says,

Watch over your thoughts because they become words.

Watch over your words because they become actions.

Watch over your actions because they become habits.

Watch over your habits because they become your character.

Watch over your character because it becomes your destiny.

Prior to our works, change must come, then, in our way of thinking, that is, in our faith. There are many causes at the origin of worldliness, but the principle one is the crisis of faith. In this sense the apostle’s exhortation is only repeating Christ’s exhortation at the beginning of his preaching: “Repent and believe”; repent, that is, believe! Change your way of thinking; stop thinking according to the “human way of thinking,” and start thinking according to “God’s way of thinking” (see Mt 16:23). St. Thomas Aquinas was right to say, “The first conversion consists in believing (prima conversio fit per fidem).” [6]

Faith is the primary battleground between the Christian and the world. It is through faith that the Christian is no longer “of” the world. When I read the conclusions that unbelieving scientists draw from their observations of the universe and I see the vision of the world that writers and filmmakers offer us—in which God is at best reduced to a vague and subjective sense of mystery and Jesus Christ is not even taken into consideration—I feel, thanks to faith, that I belong to another world. I experience the truth of these words from Jesus: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!” And I remain amazed in observing how Jesus foresaw this situation and gave us the explanation ahead of time: “You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Lk 10:23, 21).

The “world,” understood in its moral sense, are by definition those who refuse to believe. The sin that Jesus says the Paraclete will “convince the world” of is the sin of not having believed in him (see Jn 16:8-9). John writes, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).

In the Letter to the Ephesians we read,

You he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:1-2).

The exegete Heinrich Schlier has done a penetrating analysis of this “spirit of the world” whom Paul considers the direct antagonist to...

Show artwork for Love Crucified

About the Podcast

Love Crucified
Formation in the Heart of Jesus
Jesus desires that we be ONE with Him in love. He tells us: "Suffer all with Me, no longer two but one, in my sacrifice of love". He is forming His Body, His faithful remnant for these decisive times.

About your host

Profile picture for Love Crucified Community

Love Crucified Community

Love Crucified is a Catholic international covenant community of men and women of all walks of life who seek to live as God's "victims of love"