Seeking Purity of Heart for the Lord

“But when, entering the Lord’s house once more, he heard in the Gospel the Lord saying, Do not be anxious about tomorrow, he could not remain any longer, but going out he gave those remaining possessions also to the needy.” Brothers and Sisters in Christ, these words from the Life of Saint Antony have interrogated my own life. Antony desired to be free from all attachments so that he could love, with a purity of heart, his Lord. To love our Lord with a purity of heart means to love freely; that is, free from all attachments.

I too, and I suspect most of us desire to fall in love with the Lord with this same purity of heart exemplified by Saint Antony. As most of you know, I am an avid sports fans. Besides watching football on most Saturdays and Sundays, I find myself checking my sports news at every moment of the day; since, modern technology allows me to carry around in my pocket access to all the breaking news in sports with the flick of a finger. My iPhone, also allows for me to carry around an electronic breviary, so that I can more easily pray without ceasing. And yet, I find that I can read twenty plus sports articles in one day, and at the same time, forget to pray daytime prayer. With both so readily available on my phone, the problem clearly then is not that there is not enough time in the day, but rather, that my heart does not belong completely to God. As Bernard of Clairvaux so eloquently puts it, “The minds of some men are on their plates, of others in their pockets. ‘Where your treasure is,’ he says, ‘there is your heart’ (Mt 6:21)”. For me, my mind is always on sports. I am a sports junkie.

All of us have these attachments that keep us from God. The question becomes, what are we to do about them? Not all of us are called to be like Antony. Certainly some of us may indeed sell all we have and go join a monastery, but for many of us, God is simply asking us to purge ourselves from these attachments. Cassain, another desert father writes, “Therefore, we must follow completely anything that can bring us to this objective, to this purity of heart, and anything which pulls us away from it must be avoided as being dangerous and damaging”. Cassain exhorts us to cut out anything in our lives that keeps us from this purity of heart. Thus, all of us must practice a spirit of asceticism in order to achieve this goal where our hearts can function in freedom; a freedom of true charity.

As a result, I firmly resolve to learn detachment from my phone, especially the sports apps, so that it will not distract me from loving my Lord with a purity of heart. Brothers and sisters in Christ, what are those attachments in your life that keep you from loving the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength? I urge you to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your conscience to those things that keep you away from His most sacred Heart. The goal is to fall in love and to stay in love with Jesus. Let us be edified by those Saints before us, and be moved to conversion.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

SJD

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