At the turning point of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus challenges every disciple to pick up his or her cross and follow him. This cannot be interpreted as a mere turning away from the world, however. Two movements are involved in the Christian spiritual life: maintaining detachment towards the world, yes, but for the sake of becoming more attached to God and neighbor through disinterested love. Detachment is a matter of liberation, so that the disciple can remain self-possessed, then make a true self-gift in imitation of Christ. Said differently, with James, faith must be completed through works: faith involves that necessary detachment, but the working of faith through love is the fullness of Christian engagement in the world. St. Peter Damian demanded this manner of life from clergy of the 11th C., but every Christian is called to practice this while living out their vocations.
-Given at the St. Thomas More Chapel (UST-Minneapolis) on February 21, 2020, on the memorial of St. Peter Damian.