If you act for your own satisfaction, even in small matters, you will never be able to live totally for God. If, for example, you are unwilling to combat or overcome your pride which has been offended, and you are impatient or cross with someone, it is evident that you prefer to act for the satisfaction of self rather than to please God, for God lives virtue and not defects. you must always substitute for the tendency to seek your own satisfaction the desire to seek God's satisfaction and pleasure. This is what St. John of the Cross means when he suggests detachment, not as an end in itself, but as a means of becoming more closely united with God, not to leave you in a vacuum, but to direct you quickly to God. The same line of conduct was proposed by Jesus; "Renounce yourself," He says to you. And to what purpose? to walk in His path, to follow Him until you have attained perfect union with Him. The end is union, the road is abnegation or total detachment; we must not forget that it was of this road that Jesus said, "How narrow is the gate and straight the way the leads to life" (Mt. 7:14)
Simply giving something up is not even what is being asked for; Peter understood this when the rich young man went away sad at the prospect. Peter, and the disciples, who had already given up every thing, said "then who can be saved?" (Mt. 19:27). Jesus says "with God all things are possible," (Mt. 19:26) and St. Paul says how, "Let those who have wives be as if they had none . . .those who buy, as though they possessed not, and those who use the world, as if they used it not" (1 Cor 7:29ff). And this is the paradox, that our freedom, perfected, consists in renouncing our very self, for the soul united to God is completely free, the soul attached to things, even itself, is deficient in freedom. The hardest lenten sacrifice, undoubtedly, is to give up serving our self. Let us give up little things indeed, good in themselves, to train us to give up the rest as well.