Conquering the heart for Christ PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 February 2016 13:11

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6,21) With these words we are told how important it is to  take care of our heart. That’s because the heart is not only aphysical or biological organ that in itself is already indispensable in our life.

It is actually the very seat of our thoughts, desires and conscience. It’s that part that contains our whole being, and therefore the most precious part we have. Our whole identity, both in its stable and dynamic states, is found in the heart.

It’s the source of what our mouth would say. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mt 12,4). It is what gives the motives for our thoughts, desires, words and deeds.

It’s also where we hear the voice of God as well as that of the devil, where we discern the spirit of God and that of the evil one. It’s where we make our decisions, promises and commitments.

It’s where the dynamics of our faith, hope and charity is played out. But it can also be where merely worldly values, passing and relative, can dominate. Thus, it is where our interior struggle is done, where our choice of either God or ourselves is made.

And if we want to be assured of the authenticity or sincerity of one’s thoughts, words and deeds, we normally ask if they really spring from one’s heart.

How important therefore that we learn to engage the heart with the right treasure, the ultimately genuine one, the one that lasts forever, and not the many pseudo-treasures that the world offers.

Thus, we should often echo those words in Scriptures in our ears: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” (Prov 23,26) Or, Christ’s words: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Lk 10,27) Here God both begs and commands for our heart.

This, of course, requires some effort, and even gargantuan effort, because the human heart is actually very difficult to read, let alone manage. It can be tricky and very slippery to handle. St. Augustine’s words can come in handy here:

“Man is a great deep, Lord.” he said. “You number his very hairs and they are not lost in your sight. But the hairs of his head are easier to number than his affections and the movements of his heart.”

How true! One of the big challenges of our life is to know how to read our heart, that is to say, to know who and how we really are at every step of our life. Oftentimes, our self-knowledge is far off the mark. We are usually affected by all kinds of conditionings, such that our self-knowledge is more subjective than objective.

Obviously to get a handle on our heart, we need to go to God. Our human estimations can never be enough. They can even be dangerous, since they are often very limited and, worse, biased. We have to be wary of the powerful pull these worldly and human estimations can exert on us.

This is where strict self-discipline is most needed. We cannot deny the fact we are often dominated by passions inside us and fashions outside us. We have our usual weaknesses of pride, laziness, attachments, etc. Thus, we need to undertake a continuing struggle, using all kinds of spiritual armory to wage this daily battle and aim at nothing less than conquering our heart for Christ.

Things may look difficult and unwinnable, but with faith, with persistence and God’s abundant grace, we can actually manage.

Besides, there is deep within us a natural longing for God. Remember St. Augustine’s words: “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” The natural attraction of our heart, if not corrupted, is God.

If we don’t complicate our heart, we can easily be led to God because he is where all good comes from. If we can just discipline ourselves and allow ourselves to be guided by faith and reason, we can always find God.

He is not someone who takes delight in hiding from us. His presence is everywhere. Christ himself assured us: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28,20)

Let’s see to it that our heart is always with Christ.

Let’s make it a habit of doing regular examination of conscience in God’s presence. For this we would need some moments of silence and recollection, distancing ourselves for a while from the din of the world and the madding crowd.