"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16.33
Father René Voillaume, co-founder of the Little Brothers, taught that every human being inhabits three worlds. These worlds operate in concentric circles, rather than separately or even merely overlapping.
The first is the interior world of our thoughts and perceptions. The second is the outside world around us, which we perceive with our physical senses. The third is the meta-physical world where God reigns supreme. This is the ultimate reality, reflecting Plato's theory of Forms, where what exists on earth is a flawed reflection of the perfect original in heaven. But that is an incomplete analogy. For as Plotinus (a disciple of Plato) taught, there is no distinction between material and spiritual existence: both are equally real.
Neither Plato nor Plotinus were Christians, yet their insights have enriched our theology, our understanding of the world and our grasp of the significance of Jesus' penetration of the physical world, to address the damage (through sin) to God's good creation, and his promised return to complete the reconciliation of heaven and earth (New Creation).
Voillaume insisted that our faithful response is not to hanker for a bygone age or dream of a future utopia. It is to come alive in the intensity of today and to live faithfully within these three concentric worlds we inhabit: interior, exterior and transcendent.