Contemptus mundi


Contemptus mundi, the "contempt of the world" and worldly concerns, is a theme in the intellectual life of both Classical Antiquity and of Christianity.


  • So long as the soul is worldly-minded, it remains unmoved and untroubled however much it sees people trampling justice under foot. Preoccupied with its own desires, it pays no attention to the justice of God. When, however, because of its disdain for this world and its love for God, it begins to rise above its passions, it cannot bear, even in its dreams, to see justice set at naught.
  • Do we have all the hatred and all the aversion for the world which Our Lord requires, and which his example must inspire in us?
Have we regarded it as the greatest enemy of Christianity, an enemy that can not abide that Jesus Christ reigns over the faithful, crying ceaselessly through the mouth of its fans, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Saint Anthony).
Have we raised ourselves up to that outlook opposed to the world, and have we tried to destroy the esteem and love for it in all hearts?
Have we referred to it with indignation, distance and contempt; and have we made it clear that it is filled only with corruption, vanity and falsehood?
Have we condemned the world's sentiments? Are we opposed to its maxims? And have we made all our efforts to abolish its laws and overturn its accursed customs?
Have we despised what the world esteems and esteemed what it despises? Have we fled what it wants and wanted what it flees? Have we loved what it hates and hated what it loves?
Have we had the colossal aversion to the world's public assemblies, to its spectacles and all its pomp? ...
Have we fled the company of worldly persons, whom the saints, especially the Ecclesiastics, advise us to avoid like the plague, whom one should see only by necessity, and from whom we should separate ourselves as vigilantly as we can?
Have we wanted, in order to render our separation from the world as perfect as the sanctity of our state demands, that the world have aversion to us, as we have aversion to the world, following the example the apostle has given us, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
  • Louis Tronson, Examens particuliers sur divers sujets (1690), pp. 321-322

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