Being in the World, But Not of the World

On an episode of The Inner Life, Josh Raymond talked about ways to live in the world, but not of it. He began his discussion by comparing this exclusion to the phenomenon explored on shows like Undercover Boss. In similar productions, athletes or entertainers are disguised and tasked with infiltrating everyday situations. They act as if they fit in until the right moment comes and then they expose their talent, amazing the people around them.

Many of the reactions from the audience members are similar, expressing that the celebrity seemed like one of them, but you could tell there was something different. And of course, their skill proves just why they’re different and special. Josh said this is the way Catholics are called to be in the world. We have been given something very special: the truth. But we cannot stay isolated and aloof. We are called to share this message by living out our Faith so that others can see what makes us different and special.

Josh welcomed Father Sam Martin back to the show to talk about this concept of being a light to the world without getting caught up in secularity and materialism. Knowing that we long for Christ, but still have responsibilities here on earth, Josh asked Father Sam what he thought the most important tactic was to strike the right balance? Father Sam referenced the saying of an old bishop to his diocese. “Hold everything with a light touch.” We can’t take any of these worldly possessions with us, the most magnificent cities will not last forever, and we will walk before God as naked as the day we were born. We cannot afford to be so attached to things.

Father Sam told a story of Cardinal Timothy Dolan when he was in graduate school. Cardinal Dolan, then rector of a seminary, was staying with some Dominicans in Zanesville, Ohio. He was amazed at the frugality of the brothers, and at one old priest in particular. The priest had nothing in his small room except a desk and a few books and Cardinal Dolan told him that he admired his lifestyle and simplicity. The priest responded, “What about you? All you have is a suitcase.” “Yeah, but I’m just passing through,” said Cardinal Dolan. To this, the priest replied, “Aren’t we all?”

God gave us bodies so that we may know, love, and serve Him. He gave us bodies so that we may honor the sacrifice at Calvary and bring others closer to Him. So, we must be present in the world, in our culture, in our society. However, we must remember that earth is a waystation. While we have immortal souls, our bodies are finite possessions given to us by God. Father Sam said that after the recent funeral for his late father, his nephew came up to him and said, “Uncle Sam, I think God does a lot at funerals. I think He does a lot of good.” He agreed, saying that funerals are events which confront us with a lot of inevitable information. We are all going to die, we are all going to leave this world behind, and we are all meant for eternal life.

Josh asked Father Sam for tips on how to keep mortality in perspective. Father said that the lessons of living for the supernatural are more often “caught than taught”, meaning it is better to show through example than explain through words. To that point, we should take examples from good Catholics who we admire and who are living lives of happiness because they are operating for a higher purpose. When we find role models like that, we can correctly orient our habits towards God and give off a good example of our own.

Offering mortifications, sanctifying our work, and disassociating from material possessions is not going to make our lives easier or more comfortable. It won’t be an easy transition, and it won’t help us assimilate to the secular world, but it will help us attain personal holiness. It will help us grow closer to God, and it will help us reach eternal salvation.

To hear more conversations like this, tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11:00am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.