The Father William Most Collection
Detachment and feelings
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
Our analysis of Mt 6:21 plus the words of St. Paul in 1 Cor 7 on detachment should not lead one to try to be without feeling. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He took little children in His arms, seemingly enjoying their natural charm, which He, the Creator, had given them
St. Francis de Sales, in his Letter 217 (Classics of Western Spirituality edition, p. 104) wrote to a married woman, that the forms devotion takes vary with state in life. So he said: "Your husband will love it as he sees that as your devotion increases, you become more warm and affectionate toward him."
It is almost as if there were a competition or contrary pulls in what we have said. Really not. There is need of a fine balance. All things fit together well. we should avoid letting any feeling or love or creature pull us to the extent that it would lead us into even imperfection. But if this is done, then to use feelings to carry out things that are part of God' plan, especially if part of the duties of our state in life - that is not spiritually harmful. Rather, then one is using feelings to help do the will of God. In this it is important to do these things. i. e, to be warm not just for the pleasure of doing so, though it is not wrong to feel that pleasure --but basically as a means of fulfilling Our Father's plan. Then as St. Francis said it would be sanctifying.
It is true. Paul in 1 Cor 7 did speak of those who have wives as being as though not having them. In 7:5 he spoke of voluntary abstention from sex in marriage but only for a time, by mutual consent, so you may be free for prayer. But he viewed the use of sex within marriage as normal: then go back together again, he concluded after 7:5.