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Is it Okay for a Christian to Hug a Tree?

Shouldn't we be like God? Should we love his creatures or not?
by Fr Nathan Miller, LC | Source:
20131107_Hug a Tree_FT.jpg

If something exists, than it must be good, because God created it. Wisdom chapter 11:

    For you love all things that are
    and loathe nothing that you have made;

    for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.

   And then ... Jesus in today's Gospel turns around and says we cannot be his disciples if we do not renounce all our possessions. So where's the catch? Shouldn't we be like God? Should we love his creatures or not?

   The answer is yes, but without allowing ourselves to be attached. So we need to know: What does it mean to be attached?

   According to St. John of the Cross, detachment is just as important as St. Teresa of Avila's 5 conditions if we want to experience God in contemplative Prayer (link).

So first, what attachment is NOT:

  • Attraction: Just because you find them attractive when they walk by and catch your eye, doesn't mean you are attached. It's humanly healthy to feel attracted to what is beautiful.
  • Possession: Just because you own something, doesn't mean you are attached to it. Not all wealthy people are attached, and not all poor people are detached.
  • Enjoyment: When you sit down and dig into your hamburger, it is good that you experience pleasure.

What attachment IS:

  • Attachment is when we turn an end into a means. Like love for money. Money serves no purpose other than allowing us to purchase what we need.
  • Or attachment goes against God's will. As long as we use things for the purpose that he planned, then we are not attached. For example, spouses should enjoy each other's kisses, since this is part of God's plan for marriage.
  • Or finally, attachment is when we use God's creatures in excess. Like when you open your closet and find that you have 100 unnecessary pairs of shoes.

   One of the best ways to free yourself from attachment is by using natural desires and pleasures positively as springboards to God, for example, by raising your mind and heart in thanksgiving when experiencing the joys of a cold glass of beer ... together with that tasty hamburger.

   No one can refrain from enjoying things, but as Christians nor should we! Rather, every detached enjoyment should remind us that we are created for even better. Because heaven, they say, will be the fulfillment of all our natural desires.

Fr. Nathan is editor of

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