What is "The World?"

By Paul Dion, STL

I try to make the Burning Question one that has a doctrinal core to it. Something very Catholic. This week I stumbled across something that caught my fancy for two reasons:

1. It is a very traditional Catholic topic.
2. It is also a topic that has challenged the followers of Jesus for centuries.

Believe me, the positions that are taken about this fill the spectrum of spiritual human activity in the pursuit of perfection (sanctity) from left to right and back again. I am presenting this to you because I want you to get the idea of what I mean when I say that "THIS is not an intellectual exercise."

The Introduction:

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God And the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their aflictions and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (Letter of James, Chapter 1, verse 27)

The Challenge:

Comment on the bold type phrase as you see it connected the meaning of religion and the requirement(s) that it presents to the practitioners of that religion, namely, in this case, Roman Catholicism.

Let us know what you think. This is not a sit-down Catechism class so we don't grade your answer. And you can always post anonymously if you want. We merely want you to dig into your hearts and explore your Catholic faith, as you truly know it.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


  1. Anonymous11:00 PM

    1 John 2:15 tells us: "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

    The Vatican web site, "The Catechism of the Catholic Church" tells us that we should live in such a way as to care for, and take responsibility for the young, old, sick, handicapped, and poor; and this should include orphans and widows as well. In taking such responsibility as this, we will practice a religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father and we will be striving to keep ourselves unstained from the world, and living our Catholic faith as our Father desires.

  2. Anonymous11:02 PM

    To me this means that we are to be the hands and feet and mouths of Christ in helping our brothers and sisters, especially the ones that have no voice… It means to speak about God in all that we do, as someone holy once said, using words if necessary. Being the hands and feet of Christ that helps the poor of the world, and not just the physically poor the spiritually poor too, in our own family, church, community and the world. Being in the world not of the world. Not letting the world corrupt us and trick us into thinking that what we do here on earth, ( as long as we are nice people) won’t matter, that we will get to heaven anyway. God calls us to be more than ‘nice’. We have to commit to a life of transforming change that comes about when we follow Christ.

  3. Anonymous11:23 PM

    To not just say we are Catholic, but be catholic in our outlook, embracing everyone, regardless of differences in culture, language, religion, etc.

  4. Anonymous11:24 PM

    They’ll know we are Christians by our love… Aptly put, Participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass, receiving the Life giving Eucharist and letting it change and transform us into being more like the loving Son that God the Father sent to redeem us. Salvation is intended for everyone and we may be the only way for someone to hear the Word of God except by our modeling our lives after Jesus. The challenge is not to let the world get the better of us. Focusing our eyes on the eternal promise, allowing the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to endure the many challenges that beset us all on this journey to God the Father. Jesus is the ONLY , Way, the Truth and the Life.

  5. As I started to say the other morning before my pinkie went wild on me... I love the world too, however, there is so much in it that is negative. For instance, several years ago I gave up tv for Lent. It was the best thing I ever gave up. I don't watch it daily now, I only watch 3 channels and if there is not an old movie on, ( I mean B&W,) I generally give over the control to my husband. I have hated it all these years BECAUSE it takes people away from one another. My mother hated it too for the same reason. we have to compete with it for attention. In my case, my husband. He has always preferred it to real communication with me. But in retrospect, because he couldn't read, it was his only way of getting information about the world. I didn't understand that till VERY recently. It has turned me into a shrew at times, and no wonder he didn't want to talk to me. I treated him like a child watching too much tv. So, now I keep myself very busy, and since we bought a swing for our front porch, he voluntarily sits out there with me and many times without me, ( when the babies are yowling or the parents are yelling). That is one example of 'the world'. TV keeps people from communicating. Not really thinking just vegetating. I guess I am just a needy kind of gal and I don't need the tv, I need people.

    But I have my church activities, my work, my friends, my garden, my brothers and sisters and God has blessed me abundantly with all these. My husband and I have become closer again because we finally agree on what our kids need. They only think they need us, but they cut the apron string a long time ago, I kept tying it back up. I have turned to Jesus more and more and the more I study the Word and pray and reflect, the easier it becomes to do His will in almost everything. I really do believe now that God won't give me more than I can handle, but it sure seems like it is too much sometimes, doesn't it? I strive to be a saint, but fail daily. The good thing is, there is reconciliation with God and I dust myself off, after I kick myself in the fanny, (try that one) and start all over again.

    On the other hand, where would I be without my music, old B&W movies from the 30's and 40's, sunsets and sunrises, rain and thunder, and of course babies and grandchilren, just to name a few. God is really awesome isn't he?

  6. Paul Dion, STL11:32 PM

    By Paul Dion, STL

    You have grown into the meaning of he "world"...being in it, but not of it, "working" in it as a "pro-creating" right hand of God.

    I have always had a hard time when I read spiritual comments that give "world" a negative meaning, but the older I get and the more I find biblical hints about this meaning, even in Hebrew Scripture, the more I struggle to bring a deeper appreciation of difference into my own life.

    For me, this is not easy because I love the "world" and I consider it to be my playground as well as my challenge, not always spiritual.

    I have for many decades now been adverse to the spiritual saying, "Every time I go into the world I return less a man." Maybe that's why I'm not dead yet. God is still trying to get the lemondade recipe for Paul Dion right.

    I have saved the best for last. It does not come from me. It comes from a team member, Mr. Dennis Sheahan. It is the best short description of the "world" that I have read. I am placing Dennis' contribution before you so that you can appreciate its depth and blessings just as I do.

    In James' letter "the world" is set in opposition to "the Kingdom" even though the latter term is never mentioned.

    In the Kingdom all centered on the King and His service and all good things are provided in abundance in HIs love. We are never confused about the center or about the order of things as they should be.

    In the world there is an inescapable tendency to place ourselves at the center of things and to use our perceived needs (wants) and their gratification as the standard and measure of goodness. James warns that this confusion can be avoided only by a clear apprehension (grasp) of the centrality of God and His will and our joyful acceptance thereof as the standard and measure of goodness.

    God wants us to be happy, joyous and free and He provides us with the concepts, methods, and tools we need to achieve His desire for us. God's will, to the extent that we seek it out and follow (do) it, contains our happiness: God's love, to the extent that we recognize and accept it, provides all our joy in every moment: rendering service onto God is our perfect freedom (i.e. the freedom to do that which is most conducive to the good order of creation and our own best interests).

    To keep unstained by the world is very tricky business which is why we are afforded the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Eh? Dennis

    Thank you, Dennis