Ensouling the world PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 June 2016 13:15



That is, to endow the world with a soul, a living soul. We usually understand the world and everything in it as nothing more than an inanimate object, that is soulless. There may also be some living beings in it, like the plants and animals, but in general we consider the world as a mere object, fully at our mercy, with practically no reference to God, its creator.

That’s not quite so. We need to overcome that mentality, because while the world indeed is inanimate or non-living, it needs to be enlivened, to be animated, to be given a soul proper to it as the place where God has placed us so we can make our ultimate life-choice, that is, either we choose God or us.

The world and everything in it acquire that soul when “we order them to God and to fraternal charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church or CCC 2401) This truth of faith finds its biblical basis in that episode when God blessed our first parents upon their creation: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…” (Gen 1,28)

“To subdue the earth” does not only mean to master and dominate it, or merely to make use and take advantage of it. It also means that man has been given the responsibility to keep the earth a creation of God through us.

It comes from God and it also belongs to God. It has to give glory to God through us. Thus, to the extent that we manage to order the world to God, we are giving it its proper soul.

Otherwise, the world will have its own ethos, a kind of spirit that is a product of a number of factors like the confusing blend of beliefs, people’s aspirations, customs, practices, etc. These elements need to be humanized, reflecting the way God has made us human.

And given the fact that we have sinned and strayed from God but also redeemed by him through Christ, we also have to understand that the world has to be Christianized, reflecting the way Christ has redeemed us.

This can only mean that in ordering the world to God and for the common good, it has to be purified of whatever impurity it has absorbed due to our sins. As Christ redeemed us, we also have a big part to play in redeeming the world.

This is what gives the world its proper soul, not leaving it with just any earthly ethos, whose integrity is not clear. In other words, endowing the world its proper soul is to sanctify the world, to offer it to God the way God wants it offered to him.

Thus, we need to have a very positive attitude toward the world in general, however its state and condition may be in a given moment. This is not, of course, a call for us to be worldly, but rather to love it the way God loves it.

We should not just love the world, or portions of it, when it happens to be in good condition or when it is favorable to us in the many aspects it can be considered—politically, socially, economically, and even morally and spiritually. We have to love it even more when it happens to stray from God’s will, which is usually the case.

Let’s remember what the Gospel says about God in relation to the world. “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) It continues, “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (3,17)

We need to have this mind of God toward the world. We just cannot remain complaining about its problems and evils. Nor to be indifferent to them. We have to have the attitude of saving the world, transforming it from the inside. Again this is what ensouling the world means.

Its problems and evils should not turn us off. Rather, they have to turn us on. We have to convince ourselves that precisely the irregularities and anomalies it has are the materials that need to be sanctified, first of all, by intensifying our prayers and sacrifices, and by looking for concrete ways in which all these evils can convert into goodness.

Yes, a lot of patience is needed. We need to see quickly whatever is good and salvageable in a situation that may be dominated by evil.