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Spiritual Discipline of Detachment

April 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Avila Institute, Detachment, Dylan Jedlovec

The Avila Institute helps students grow in their own personal spiritual journey while also equipping them with knowledge about the faith. The great thing about the Institute is that it helps students to grow in their prayer lives and spiritual discipline. Each class is prayerful with plenty of material for students to reflect on outside of class. Many students finish the class having grown in virtue and prayer. For this post, I want to share with you testimonials on how the Avila Institute has impacted students, starting with myself.

I recently finished a course on St. Francis of Assisi at the Avila Institute. The course helped me grow in my understanding of the Franciscan tradition and its influence in the Church. Deeper than that, however, it helped me to grow in virtue, specifically in the virtue of detachment.

Prior to the class, I had no idea what the virtue of detachment was all about, but the instructor, Professor Patrick Linbeck, helped introduce me to a new spiritual concept. In the class, Professor Linbeck talked about the spiritual discipline of detachment and the universal call to avoid the worship of power, honor, and glory. It’s not that the things of this world are bad, but they need to be rightly ordered in order to lead us to our ultimate fulfillment in God. One thing he said in the most recent class that struck me was regarding contemplation. He described contemplation as being awestruck by beauty without the desire to possess it. The need to possess something or someone is an indication of a soul not being detached.

For post on Saint Francis of Assisi     spiritual discipline

Saint Francis of Assisi in meditation. Francis, like many saints, had a profound understanding of the spiritual discipline of detachment.

The words of Professor Linbeck led me to reflect upon the idea of detachment in my own life. I certainly was not detached from a lot of things. I often struggled with being enslaved to my desires for worldly things. However, I also thought of some areas where I had experienced a level of detachment from things, and I realized how freeing it was.

For example, as I was leaving my apartment one morning, I went through my mental checklist and headed out the door only to realize I didn’t have my cell phone. “Oh, I forgot my phone,” I said aloud as I turned back for it. One of my roommates overheard my comment and remarked on how he is too dependent on his phone to forget it. Almost instinctively I responded, “Detachment, man. It’s a good spiritual discipline.”

The fact that these words came out of my mouth shocked me, but I realized I was making progress in the spiritual discipline of detachment. The fact that I was detached from my phone even for that brief moment was a huge victory for me over a culture that makes detachment harder than ever.

Sometimes our desires appear too strong. But in reality they are not too strong, they just need to be rightly ordered. God gave us our desires for the good, the true, and the beautiful in order to point us to him. The problem comes when we enjoy the things of this world (sex, money, power, pleasure, etc.) and stop at them. We choose to worship these created things rather than appreciate their beauty as a sign of God’s eternal beauty and love for us. We long to possess them rather than contemplate their beauty. When we have this desire for possessions, we can quickly become attached to things. The spiritual discipline of detachment helps us to avoid this form of idolatry.

I am far from virtuous in the area of detachment, but the Avila Institute has helped me to grow in this virtue and my understanding of it. I have continued to grow in the spiritual discipline of detachment in the weeks since finishing the course, and I am grateful to Professor Linbeck, St. Francis of Assisi, and the Avila Institute for helping me to grow in this way. That’s what makes the Avila Institute so great and unique: it drives personal formation in addition to intellectual knowledge.

However, don’t just take it from me. Take it from the numerous other students who have had transformative experiences at the Avila Institute. See what students have recently said about their experience in the School of Spiritual Formation:

“I began Avila as a Catholic who knew little about the interior life, occupied the same pew space each Sunday, and nearly always left immediately after receiving the Eucharist. I was an unengaged, and un-catechized member of my parish. The blessings from being a student at Avila began shortly after the first class, and have continued far beyond what I was searching for when I entered the Institute, that of a relationship with Christ, who I really never knew. The beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours, and starting the day with getting to know our Lord, during prayer, was the first blessing I was given, followed by learning the importance of having a Spiritual Director, as well as being fortunate enough to be directed to a very holy man for this. A continuing blessing has been the ability to say yes to Him, after prayer and discernment, and to know that His will is now my will in every aspect of my life. I cannot thank Dan, Dr. Lilles and all the professors enough for leading me to Christ, the friend I never knew prior to Avila.”

“My goal as I enter each course I take is to grow in holiness. At the end of of each class I feel as though I have gained some wisdom that can help me achieve this goal. I have been blessed mostly by being challenged through the courses I have taken. A good challenge causes one to make a change of some sort. A change can make a huge difference in one's prayer life, one's prayer time and in one's heart. The difference makes one desire more of God.”

“I tell every Catholic I know about the institute, including my DRE's in my parish.”

The Avila Institute has transformed countless lives, and we are constantly getting testimonials like this from students. If you are interested in seeing what the Avila Institute is all about, we hope you can join us.

If you have any questions you can visit our website or email us


Art: Detail of San Francisco Meditando de Rodillas (Saint Francis Meditating on His Knees), El Greco, ca. 1586-1592, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dylan Jedlovec

Dylan Jedlovec was formerly an Operations Administrative Assistant at the Avila Foundation, parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio. Finishing up an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Economics from Samford University, Dylan is first and foremost a disciple of Christ and a son of the Church. Dylan has a heart for evangelization on college campuses, and has worked closely with FOCUS as a student missionary and served as President of the Catholic Student Association at Samford. As a member of the University Fellows Program at Samford, Dylan developed a love for the writings of the Saints, particularly the Doctors of the Church, through his studies of the core texts of the Western Intellectual Tradition. This love for the rich intellectual tradition of the faith brought him to the Avila Foundation, where he seeks to further the kingdom through feeding Christ’s sheep. In his free time, Dylan enjoys watching baseball, reading, hiking, running, and lifting weights (although you can’t really tell).

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